Country Music Trends, Photography, and Modern Sameness

Do you like country music (or music in general for that matter)? Hey, me too and here's a video that I think raises interesting questions and may serve as a great thought exercise regarding modern media trends and the problems of sameness.

In this video from Grady Smith, he's talking about what's trending these days with modern country music. Let's be clear, he's not talking about the photography industry, but watch the video and stick with me on this one because I think I can bring it back full circle. I was at the gym doing cardio and like usual I found myself also scrolling YouTube; I came across this video and seeing as how I enjoy country music, the video grabbed my attention and I gave it a watch. While I found myself agreeing with much of what Smith says, I also found myself immediately drawing parallels with social media trends and the photography industry.

The gist of Smith's video is that there is a current trend in country music that due to large scale success on the charts is creating ripple effects throughout the industry that has many of the top artists doing the same thing. The basic trend is that homogeny in one particular area is taking over to the detriment of the industry at large. Sameness is becoming the norm the expensive of craft, expression, passion, and musical styling. It's reaching a point where many of the modern country hits feel like they've followed a recipe and thus lack the meaning of something created with heart.

How does any of this relate to the photography industry though? Think about the kinds of images that you've been seeing on Instagram over the last year or so. Don't the majority of images kind of look the same these days? How many person-in-raincoat-and-in-awe-of-waterfall photos have you seen? What about pretty-girl-sitting-outside-coffee-shop images or editorial images edited with identical green and gold color presets? Popular social media photography trends have so rapidly steered many people away from pursuing passion-based content and towards what they think will yield the most likes and comments.

When so much of what we see looks the same, it starts to cheat the things that should matter. It starts to feel like we're becoming numb to a passion-based creative process and more like we're robots churning out whatever we're told is popular. As Smith makes his case that there is a trend killing country music, do you feel like there are social media trends that could be killing photography? Obviously country music isn't going to disappear in the same way that photography isn't going away either, the thought exercise here is to ask ourselves if we feel that the trends of now could be detrimental to the creative future of the industry. Chime in with a comment, I'd love to know what you folks think on this one.

Log in or register to post comments

9 Comments

Jonathan Brady's picture

This is exactly what went through my head when reading this article!

Evan Kane's picture

Haha, a friend just linked me that the other night, pure gold lol! :D

Patrick Hall's picture

Man modern country is the worst! And Keith Urban used to be pretty good...

Evan Kane's picture

There are still a few gems out there but they are definitely becoming fewer and further between. . .

David Justice's picture

Art and business don't play well together. You can do your thing, find your niche, and have some success. Or you can take every portrait gig possible, shoot it at f1.4 with them staring directly at the camera, and give it warm tones. And then while you're raking in the money, you have a second brand that does all the artsy things you want to do.

I used to work at a portrait studio. High school yearbook, passports, events.. That sort of thing. The photographer in charge, I thought that's all he did. Years later I found his model mayhem with nude women. A dude with an octopus covering his junk. Crazy things like that. Did he complain the yearbook stuff was ruining his creative expression? No. He did the job that people wanted and then in his free time did what other people wanted.

Stop complaining. Get paid. Or make it a hobby.

Jonathan Brady's picture

How did you have time to be a photographer and a baseball player in the past?!

Jay Boatwright's picture

Great video, been listening to Tyler Childers pretty much every day since watching. That guy is inspirational.

Matt Crace's picture

On point to what you are saying with this Country Mashup!
https://youtu.be/FY8SwIvxj8o

You mentioned two of my favs with Tyler Childres and Turnpike Troubadours. Hope is not lost! Be sure to check out some of these very talented artists who do it their way.

http://codyjinks.com

http://www.warddavismusic.com

http://whiteymorgan.com

http://paulcauthenmusic.com

http://www.charleycrockett.com

https://travismeadows.com

https://www.americanaquarium.com

http://margoprice.net

https://jamielinwilson.com

BJ Barham -frontman for American Aquarium writes some of the most powerful lyrics out there! Travis Meadows opened for American Aquarium last year and told the story of his hit Better Boat. He suggested to the audience to go help a starving artist who was really coming on the scene and had purchased Better Boat to use on his latest album. The crowd erupted with laughter when he dropped Kenney Chesney's name. I heard Travis and Better Boat that night for the first time and I've been a fan since. He has a very dark, troubled, story to tell and I highly recommend reading a bit more about him. His version -the original, of Better Boat is profoundly better than Chesney's! I think because it's his, the years of torment that you can you hear in his voice -originality.

I could go on and on with stories from each of these artists because I've seen them and heard many of their stories. As photographers, we need to do "our thing." Stay true to ourselves while creating not duplicating the latest social fad.

Pic is one I grabbed at the Charley Crockett show last summer with a Fuji X-T20.