My Photo Editing Soundtrack

I have to listen to music when I am editing photos.  I need something to separate me from distractions; music helps center me and even helps with pacing my workload.  My photo editing soundtrack typically involves a Pandora station that suits the type of shoot I am editing.  After I pick the music, I set a timer for an hour (which is about how long I can edit without a break) and turn up the volume. Since all the music I listen to while editing is protected under copyright law, I'm not able to show a video with examples.  However, it's kind of fun to open one of the music clips and look at the photos.  Well...I think it's fun.

When I edit, I try to think of what kind of feelings I want for the shoot and play music that helps get me there. For example, when I am editing high school seniors I often listen to Alex Clare Radio. I like both the energy and drama of the music which feels like high school kids to me.  I listen to songs from Alex Clare (obviously), AWOLNATION, Florence and the Machine, and even some dubstep.

Black and white of teen girl running down the street looking over her shoulder laughing. Black and white of teen boy against window reflecting the clouds.

For me, the music selection when editing isn’t about what the people themselves listen to, it’s what helps me be in the right frame of mind for editing their shoot. If I’m editing a high-energy session, I don’t want to be listening to yoga music.

One of my more literal musical choices recently is listening to The Album Leaf’s A Day in the Life when I edit Day in the Life sessions. I love the spirit and atmosphere (if you can apply that term to music) of that song and the other music I get from Pandora in that vein.

Girl seen outside dancing through the front door. Natural looking photo of boy in car putting on his seatbelt. Black and white photo of famlly in their car through the front window. From the backseat, mom, dad, and small dog. Famlly dog in outside car window with wind blowing in his hair.

Lately, I’ve been editing some commercial work- lifestyle photography for a real estate company and I found Lunz Radio to really works for me. No particular message, just nice neutral background music.

Stapleton downtown photo. Stapleton Bluff Lake view of mountains.

For editing my own family, we are pretty eclectic. I like to listen to the Queens of the Stone Age, Detroit CobrasBig Star, and the Dirtbombs to edit my clan. My sons are both guitar players and write most of their own music.  I feel like the decade doesn’t matter much as long as it has guitars.

Boy eating steaming noodles. Man in the kitchen reading something on his ipad.Self portrait of woman and camera in mirror. Documentary photo of young man eating and watching TV

Finally, when I edit my own work for my website, I almost always listen to the Kinks.  (Isn't it funny how we often wind up adopting the music of our parents' generation?)  The song Victoria "sounds" like my photos.  I love the lyrics of People Take Pictures of Each Other and Picture Book. Wouldn't it be cool to license the Kinks for one's little photography business?

Mom blowing on girl's cheek while son blow's on mom's.Family on the beach in silhouette.Tatooed dad handing baby to beautiful mom Man in woods holding son and looking away from camera.Touching photo of woman huggin and older woman.

What is your family or business theme song?

Life Unstill shoots Day in the Life sessions in Denver, CO and beyond.  Contact Willy to schedule a session and find out your soundtrack.

A Love Captured - Leonard Zanni

In Memoriam – Leonard “Len” Zanni  

In the course of life you meet many people, and some of those people touch you in a way that you never forget. One of those people for me was Len Zanni. Len, being a man, was fairly typical: willing but unenthusiastic about having his picture taken. That said, despite his reticence, Len took direction well and always put up with whatever scheme I concocted for their photos each year since 2011.  He was always charming and funny, he couldn't bring himself to call me Wilson and kept trying to guess what the "H" stands for.

Group shot of grandparents, parents, kids all sticking out tongues20131103-5748-Mackowski

I was brokenhearted when I heard of his untimely passing this March. I had a good cry and spent some time looking at the hundreds of photos I have taken of the Zanni family over the years. I am just a photographer, not a family friend or loved one, but this group of people has been very dear to me. Jeanne, Len’s daughter-in-law, was one of my first clients when I started working up in Carbondale in 2010 and I will never forget her loyalty and kindness over the years as I and my business have grown.

Traditional family shot outside in the fall grandparents parents and kids20121111-3356-Mackowski20141109-3550-Zanni

I’ve taken traditional, artful, and playful photos of the Zanni family over the years. However, one of my very favorite photos of all time is of Len and his wife Gay, in a sweet and personal moment. It’s been on my website since the year I shot the photo and it captures everything I feel is meaningful in photography. Love.

Black and white photo of gray haired man an woman with their foeheads togther.

Our last shoot together, which was just in November, I convinced everyone to give me their best “model” pose at the end of our session. I wasn’t certain what kind of response I’d get from Len Jr. and Len Sr., neither of whom particularly loves the camera. But they rolled with it and I got this fun and hilarious shot.Goofy multigenerational photo in front of a Mt. Sopris.


When I heard the tragic news, I read Len’s obituary and learned that he was a 9/11 survivor and had been on the 55th floor of the World Trade Center that day. His wonderful son, Len Jr is named for him, but I found out that his grandson, whom I’ve always known as Curtis, is technically Leonard Curtis Zanni, III. Three generations of Leonard Curtis Zanni in my photos. I am honored.

Nice family photo in the grass with grandparents parents and kids everyone dressed in red.

Dear Zanni family, you are loved and it is obvious how much Len loved and doted on you all. My deepest, deepest sympathy to every one of you.  Len was a wonderful man full of spirit and he will be sorely missed.

_DSC9677 20121111-3255-Mackowski _DSC9661 20131103-5729-Mackowski 20131103-5727-Mackowski 20141109-3906-Zanni