This is the eleventh collaboration between Richard from CK Ponderings and I. This time, it was down to me to set the theme, and I suggested that we base our photographs on our current favourite songs. Hope you like the results…

Richard Cooper-Knight:

Ego Music

Ego Music Pet Shop Boys

I had a real problem when it came to this collaboration. It was not the collaboration itself – I have got way more inspiration from the last twenty-odd weeks than I could ever have anticipated – but the title and restriction.

The trouble for me is that I don’t really listen to a lot of new music. I constantly have my iPod or hi-fi on – music, along with photography, is my major passion – but I’m not really into a lot of new music. So anything I have or listen to is usually six months old at the newest. It took a while to identify some tracks that I could use that were fairly recent. There were some pretty obvious shots conjured up by the titles (Nell Bryden’s Buildings and Treetops and Ultravox’s Brilliant), but, in the end, I returned to an old favourite, and the Pet Shop Boys won out.

Elysium, their tenth studio album (putting aside five greatest hits collections, five remix albums, a musical, movie soundtrack and ballet) was released earlier this month, and builds nicely on everything that has gone before. Oddly, any of the twelve tracks could have inspired a photograph (now there’s a project for the future!), but it was Ego Music that immediately leapt out at me. It’s a tongue-in-cheek view how self-obsessed musicians can become, and, for me, echoes Robbie Williams’ album track The Actor (Rudebox, 2006).

So, to the photo itself.

I wanted to try something new, and had an idea of the image I wanted to create, but which pushed my way beyond tweaking brightness and hue in Photoshop. I’m not sure that it totally works, but I’m happy with the outcome, and hope it marries photography with art. It also pushes that boundary way back for me – it’s a self-portrait!

Comments gratefully welcomed!

Richard Guest:

Love Letters, 2012

Like Richard, my biggest problem was working out what my current favourite song is, and I also don’t listen to much new music. So I plumped for old. My choice is a lot older than Richard’s. Love Letters by Ketty Lester was released in 1962. It reached number five in the Billboard Hot 100 chart. She gave up singing commercially in the late sixties and became a successful actress.

I didn’t hear Love Letters until 1986, when it featured on the soundtrack to David Lynch’s Blue Velvet, but I’ve been singing it in the shower on and off every year since. It’s a beautiful song which, in the film, has sinister overtones. At one point, the film’s pyschopathic antagonist, Frank (played with sadistic glee by Dennis Hopper) tells Jeffrey, his lover’s lover (played with delicious awkwardness by Kyle MacLachlan) that he wouldn’t like a love letter from Frank, because a love letter from Frank is a bullet from a gun.

The song plays over a shoot-out in an abandoned factory and there is a video on Youtube of the sequence if you’re interested, but I prefer this one from Shindig in 1964. Enjoy.