How to look at a photograph of a live band.

© Copyright 2017 Kelsey McCormick, Ryerson University


McCormick, Kelsey. “cigarettes after sex” Photograph, Ryerson University, January 31, 2017.

This is a photograph of a band that I like.  The photo shows all of the members but most clearly it shows the lead singer and the keyboard player. It’s poor quality because it’s taken on my iPhone and the lighting is horrendous. But even though it has so many flaws to it, that’s what makes it good. The way that I see this photo is different from how you would see this photo. Which is the beauty of photograpy. Each and every person could look at the same photo and see something different, or feel something different or even nothing at all. I’ll start with how it makes me feel. It makes me feel happy and sad and dreamy and blissful all at once. My boyfriend and I went to this concert for our anniversary and four songs in we had to run all the way home because he got paged, because he was on call for work. This is where the sadness comes in. But this is only what I see when I look at it.

I also hear the sounds that I heard when I was there from seeing it, which you couldn’t because perhaps you don’t know what they sound like. But you could imagine that maybe the keys were playing a soft melody and that the singer had a sweet tone and a mesmerizing stance while he closed his eyes to sing. If you look closely you can also see that the keyboard player looks like he’s not into it at all. And being there in the crowd for those first 20 minutes, he really didn’t seem into it. He looks stiff and rigid and the lead singer looks more relaxed. Then you could start to think of all the different ways in which they individually spent their days and maybe something bad happened to the keyboard player and he really doesn’t want to be there but he has to because this is his job.

You could also look at in from the angle that the drummer and the guitarist have taken a backseat and almost blurred into the edges of the shot and look at that and wonder why only the lead singers in bands are paid the most attention to. Or why they are the ones who “steal the show.”

You can also see what the venue looks like and maybe that would make you want to go there too or Google images to see what it really looks like. This photo isn’t used for anything really, I use it as a reminder that sometimes things will get ruined and it’s ok because it’s not the end of the world. You could also look at it and ponder on what it’s like to be a musician and go on tour leaving loved ones behind to pursue your dreams. And wonder what it’s like to have the open road as your home and play a show in a different city every night and see different faces that you will more than likely never see again. What seems like such a shitty, poorly taken photograph can become so much more if you look at it mindfully.

It’s like how when I was reading Elkins, he said that we don’t really look at things and wonder or stop and think, that we do so many things on the surface level and don’t think about how we see anything, we just kind of see it, things are just there.

There is no right or wrong way to look at this photo, but there are about a million different ways that you could see it. What do you see when you see it? Hey, maybe you just see it and simply feel nothing, and that’s alright too.



  • Elkins, James. “How to Use Your Eyes.” Routledge Print
  • McCormick, Kelsey. “cigarettes after sex” Photograph, Ryerson University, January 31, 2017.


  • Images in this online exhibit are either in the public domain or being used under fair dealing for the purpose of research and are provided solely for the purposes of research, private study, or education.