What do you listen to when culling or editing photos? I would love to know. I have a shortlist go-to music that I’ll share.

Ambient music

I listen to a lot of instrumental ambient music. And one of my favorite artists in this genre is Brian Eno. His music is sonically rich and complex enough that it pleases my ears while providing a beautiful soundtrack for culling and editing photos.

I also enjoy Andy Othling’s “Morning Care” series, which he performed live during the pandemic. He manipulates electric guitar with various pedals into a deep landscape of sounds. Like Eno, it’s sonically rich while still not being too distracting. 

I play music, and don’t typically listen to what I’ve done. However, there are exceptions. This includes The Mercury Seven. Usually, I listen to “mcmlvii.”


Pharoah Sanders performing live at Catalina Bar and Grill in Los Angeles, March 2011. He has played with luminaries such as the ever-passionate Billy Higgins and Alice Coltrane. He is musical joy personified in person. This was taken before I began doing night photography. You may be able to see a Herman Leonard influence here.

I sometimes listen to jazz, but I won’t go for the skronky stuff most of the time while editing. My shortlist includes Miles Davis, Alice Coltrane, kozmigroov stuff like Herbie Hancock and Dave Brubeck Take Five.

Below is Alice Coltrane’s “Journey Into Satchidananda.” As an aside, I knew her for many years, going to her ashram and having dinner with her once. To describe her as extraordinary doesn’t even do her justice.


Curiously, though, every once in a while, I listen to metal. I usually go for classic metal like Iron Maiden and Judas Priest as well as Tool and Testament. Sometimes, I listen to more contemporary metal. I’ll share Judas Priest “Firepower,” a relatively recent album for them, just to show that they’ve still got it.


From time to time, I also listen to the following as well while culling and editing. 

  • Anna Thorvaldsdottir: “In the Light of Air.” This is an Icelandic artist. There are numerous Icelandic artists that create great music for creating a sense of openness, wind-swept mountains, and more. 
  • Sade: “Lovers Rock.” This beautiful album takes me back to sitting in the beaches of South Thailand. Gorgeous melodies.
  • Harold Budd and Brian Eno: “The Pearl.” Ambient goodness.
  • Brian Eno: “The Shutov Assembly.” Often overlooked by Eno fans.
  • Ethiopiques 11: Alemu Aga — The Harp of King David. This is an unusual deep sound that is mystical and ancient.
  • “Timeless: Ali Akbar Khan & L. Subramaniam,” Universal Music India Pvt., Ltd., 2002, Made in India. Probably difficult to track down now, but worth a listen. This is my favorite Carnatic raga.
  • Brian Eno: “On Land.” Evokes another world, diffused glows, and unusual sounds. Very rich and textured.
  • Henryk Gorecki: “Symphony #3.” An absolute classic, and one of the greatest minimalistic classical pieces ever created. Dawn Upshaw’s vocals are transcendent and heart-wrenching.
  • Hamza El Din: “Eclipse.” Sensual.
  • Rebab and Female Singing of Central Javanese Gamelan (World Music Library). Unusual gamelan music, creating a rich tapestry of rhythms and textures.
  • Cluster live USA 1996. Improvisational electronics done by some of the best, all done live.
  • Future Sound of London: “Lifeforms.” A 1990s ambient classic.
  • Vidna Obmana: “Memories Compiled.” Evocative ambient music.
Pharoah Sanders performing live at Catalina Bar and Grill in Los Angeles, March 2011. I found myself with an enormous smile throughout the entire show. I’ve seen him perform three times, all at the same place. Once again exhibiting a bit of influence from Herman Leonard.

Please share music that you love to listen to while culling and editing your photos! I would love to hear your choices!