It's Week #40: Sound

To be shot and submitted between Sunday, Sep 27 and Sunday, Oct 4 (noon, Eastern)

“Sound unbound by nature becomes bounded by art.”

― Dejan Stojanovic

There are two definitions of “sound.” The first is quite technical – a vibration the progresses through air (or other medium) as an audible wave of pressure and displacement. The second definition refers not to the element itself, but to our perception of it.

So sound is either something purely physical, in and of itself, or it’s abstract, existing in our understanding of it.

How will you capture it? Something invisible, something intangible. The good news is that sound has an effect. A profound effect, indeed: Sound is a celebration, a wail, and warning, a surprise, a distraction, a meditation. It is both real and abstract, both fleeting and forever.

Your challenge: capture it. Use one sense – vision, to capture another – sound. Perform artistic alchemy and turn the audible into the visual. Hear and see. Listen, and then show.

This week, it’s up to you to decide: what is sound? Does it exist by itself, or only in our perception of it? In other words – if a lone camera clicks in the forest, does it make a sound?

Tips and Tuts for this week:

  • Think of what “surrounds” the sounds around you – their sources, their effects – both physical and emotional, their “accompaniments,” their purposes. Try to photograph one of those elements to demonstrate the sound itself.
  • Spend some time listening. As you go through your day, pay attention to the sounds that punctuate your routine: the alarm clock, the hot water, the bus, the radio, the phone, the tv, the birds, the oven, the shower, the snore. Hone in on each of those sounds, focus on what they make you feel. Try to capture that feeling in your photograph.
  • Is the sound you’re photographing happy or sad? Inspiring or celebratory? Identify the mood of the sound, and then match your technique – shutter speed, color choices, composition – to complement it.

Looking for more inspiration? Check out the Sound album from 2012 and Music from 2013. Google, as always, holds more inspiration, as does Flickr.

Extra Credit: No Musical Instruments

Avoid the obvious. For extra credit, step away from the devices that create sound, and find another source of auditory sensation. Hopefully, this creative constrain will encourage you to dig deeper, think harder, and shoot something truly unique.


Remember, it is not necessary to work in this Extra Credit piece. It’s extra credit!

Have a challenge idea for 2016?