“There’s not a random pixel in any of my photographs”

After years as a record producer, arranger and film composer – not to mention a road manager who toured with the Beatles — Ed Freeman made a leap. He left the music industry behind to pursue photography.

But the Getty Images Prestige photographer soon discovered something familiar: The same creative process was at the heart of both.

“Composition, color, balance and harmony, all those words are the same for both music and photography,” Freeman said. “So when you create, you tend to think or see or hear in those terms.”

Freeman compares the connection to how someone might hear a trumpet sounding orange, or a violin sounding red. Or an orchestra playing something green, and a conductor encouraging them to “play it more blue.”

“Music and photography, they’re not dissimilar,” Freeman said, “but in ways that are difficult to explain. For example, when I’m composing music, I might hear a thin red line meandering in the top, over some dark green moss, and that would be a flute line with a string pad underneath.”

It’s the same approach he brings to his fine art and commercial imagery.

“When I went to photograph the surfer and I looked at my first batch of images, my first reaction was ‘Oh my God, there’s a horizontal line through all my pictures!’ And that was the horizon line. For me, the challenge was how to get rid of that line because it was boring as hell.”

Similar to how he might add an instrument to bring depth to a musical piece, Freeman realized he could manipulate the picture in such a way so the wave and the sky would disguise the dull horizon line.

Like great music, the resulting image captures the emotion of surfing, how it feels.

“I know absolutely nothing about surfing,” he said. “But I know about composition by being a musician. … I wanted the picture to look as exciting as it felt.”

Freeman said his style of shooting is not meant to be photojournalism or authentic in the documentary sense. But that doesn’t make it inaccurate.

“My photography is real in conveying the emotion, not which drop of water was where. Actually, there’s not a random pixel in any of my photographs,” he said. “It’s a lie about the little stuff, but it’s not a lie about the big stuff, the feeling, the emotion.”

In other words, sweet music.

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