American photographer Alexander Coggin talks us through the five tracks that have been the soundtrack to his professional life as he studies the revealing nuances of human behaviour. From the tracks that put models at ease, to the Ethiopian jazz that sustained late night editing.
If I’m shooting a subject and want to conjure a specific mood, I’ll often tailor my music to the atmosphere I want to create. I find that this track (and the whole album, really) is a great one to get subjects to loosen up. I want a naturalism to come through my work, and this lovely disco hit usually does the trick.
A big part of my photographic process is about the wander. Walking around, I seek visual curiosities and am very inspired by the street. I’m also a huge theatre nerd and find overtures to be exciting in the way that they can change emotion and narrate my walks and my eye. For those that don’t know, overtures are a ‘preview’ of songs you’ll hear in a Musical or Opera and are played at the beginning of a show. This track is by far the best one I’ve come across, and I love it for its jazzy energy. It’s the perfect companion to street shooting.
I find this track inspiring when I am struggling with doubt or insecurity about my work. This particular performance of this song I find to be so touching in its authenticity and the way that Adrianne Lenker connects with the lyrics. I strive for authenticity and authorship, and here’s an artist that’s doing just that. I’ll listen to this song and watch this performance, and it serves as a bit of a pep talk.
I listen to a lot of Classical and tonal music when I edit my work, and this track is in near-constant rotation. I shoot a lot every week and consequently spent a lot of time editing my work and constructing the narrative for a particular project or commission. I cherish this time when I can get my selects in order and tinker with them.
Increasingly I find myself shooting the people and scenarios I know intimately. I’m interested in making sure I commit to a place, topic or person and keep looking and going deeper into their story. This song inspires me because it’s doing the same thing. The Roches are three sisters who wrote this beautiful song about their family dynamics. One of the sisters wanted to leave the group, and we hear her story in contrast to her sisters’ pleadings halfway through the song. It has very much served my career to live with this idea that you can take familial or emotional intimacy and put it into your work. Use it!
We all have a hype song. A fail-safe track which gives us energy and focus. If I’m heading to an important meeting at an agency or with an important editor, I want to show up as fully present as possible and not psyche myself out before (which I’m prone to do!). And this song gets me so wonderfully out of my head. It’s a real banger.