Category Archives: music


I have never found much interest in landscape photography, it’s all about people, for me. I enjoy the interaction, the give and take of subject and photographer, and most of all, I love seeing and hearing the reaction to the images we come up with.

I’m sitting at home today, a little sick and itching to go outside and shoot… so I thought I would write. I needed to do it anyway, so here I am. The first thing I do when it’s time to get into the mindset is turn on some music. The sound fuels my work, it directs it, it informs it. Often it’s music that inspires me to take a certain photograph in the first place. It’s not uncommon for me to have a particular song in mind when photographing something. I recently discussed this very subject  with a musician named Andy Zipf, who finds inspiration for his songs in images from time to time.

The type of music I choose is usually determined by the type of work I have in front of me. For example; weddings usually require some chill music, such as, Over the Rhine, William Fitzsimmons, or Peter Broderick. I need the lovely, the sentimental, the emotional to step into my head and make me think “wedding.” Portraits are different. Some portrait sessions are moody, and fit nicely with the likes of Radiohead, or Sigur Ros. Other sessions are light and fun. I grew up on 80’s and 90’s pop music… so when we’re talking about fun and light music, it’s gotta be Wham!, Milli Vanilli, Michael Jackson, or, if I really need fuel – it’s Color Me Badd. With two “D’s” there, folks. They’re that serious about being bad.

Hip Hop is a great energizer for days when the tasks is large. The Beastie Boys, Public Enemy, Run DMC… all were in my heavy a rotation.

Art inspires me. Music, dance, painting, films. Being a witness to someone else creating is an honor, and it helps to keep me moving towards my goal of documenting life for other people.


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Anna Gilbert loves music — that was obvious during the shoot. Committed musicians, whether professional or not, have music genetically interwoven throughout everything they do, I’m convinced. You sit Anna in front of a piano, even for a picture, and she plays and sings. I love that. I respect that.  Honestly, I get that. I’m an enormous music fan, and I think that’s largely the reason I love photographing musicians. I get to be around people who love music even more than I do.


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  • benj haischNICE! that bottom one screams album art to me. classy.

  • jessLOVE that second shot. beautiful!

  • Vida CarsonWow, that second image is just.. wow.

  • jobeth / bootsmcjay – these rock! that light in the second image – bea-u-ti-ful!

  • Rayleigh ShoresThose are great! I’m way impressed by the photography and by Anna’s beauty!

  • BethanyAnneHoly crap. Gorgeous porgeous. Beautiful.

    And the second pic – reminded me of Jeremy C’s style. Love it!

  • geneohawesome work, Jay. Love it.

  • JaqThese are great, i love her expression & the lighting in the second one. The piano is gorgeous.

  • GraemeNew posts please. =)

  • jayeadsI know. I’m behind 🙂


I was driving home after shooting a short wedding when I saw him. The banjo, the hat, the overalls… I knew I had to pull over and take his picture, if he would let me. Fortunately he was all about it. Erik has been playing the banjo for 33 years, and it shows. His effortless picking was only outshone by his amazing handlebar mustache. He told me that he loves playing in front of The Kiva, a great little grocery in Eugene, because of the appreciation their customers show him. I guess people who like good wine, and good food, also like good music.


This shot was a special request by Erik.  Happy to oblige.


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  • BethanyAnneHolly snap these are amazing. Especially #5!

    Love it!

  • BethanyAnneHolly snap these are amazing. Especially #5!

    Love it!

  • Shari DeAngeloI absolutely love every single image here, Jay. Exceptional series.

  • Lauren HurtJay you are so cool, and so is this dude. These pictures make me want to start using lights, they’re just perfect!

  • GinaYour portrait work really tells the story. Each photograph is fascinating imo. It’s such a treat to view your work!

  • jessjay! don’t know how i missed this shoot but i love the mood, tones, etc. so beautiful. 🙂

  • HarveyI just want to mention that I came to your site this morning (as I often do) for inspiration. This shoot continues to inspire me over and over and over again. I love how there are so many different takes on one man playing a banjo in the street. Each one impresses and inspires for a different reason.

    Thank you.

  • Nirav PatelIncredible Jay. As everyone else has mentioned, you are truely an inspiration. If you’re ever in San Francisco shooting a wedding and need a second, or third, or fourth shooter, please let me know haha. I’ll work for peanut butter and possibly some jello. Seriously though, it would be an awesome priveledge to be able to work with you. Take care man.


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