An Interview with Carl Tyer of “Sound Images”

We met photographer / videographer Carl Tyer of "Sound Images" at our first-ever Fall Fashion Expo when he asked if he could capture some of the ambient sounds of the show. We were instantly intrigued by his request and instantly loved the video he produced for us using sounds and still images from the Fall Fashion Expo. Today we're excited to share with you our interview with one of our favorite members. 

What’s different about the video/ audio pieces you produce?!

From my perspective, the story line is often missing in the thousands of short videos that are captured and posted everyday. When I created Sound Images, a service that incorporates both sound, still images and video, it was driven by my interest to better incorporate the storyline into the final piece. Journalist focus on the storyline all the time, and that’s what makes a news article or radio piece interesting to the reader or listener. 

When I’m attracted to photograph a scene or situation, sometimes my initial attraction comes from the sounds coming from the scene. These ambient sounds or the natural sounds are all part of the landscape before us. Still photography captures the image but that leaves out a large proportion of what our senses are telling us which includes the sounds from the environment!

How does your work align with the mission of Redress?

There are several aspects to the Redress mission but I initially saw the artisans. The individual designers and creators of the fashions or accessories that are the end product of the eco-fashion movement. There’s also the manufacturing side of the textiles industry but it was the individual artisans that I initially saw when I learned of your organization. 

To “hear” directly from an individual artisan, I believe, has a lot of power in promoting their work. We are drawn to those that have passion for their work, that’s the storyline. This can be conveyed in the sound of their voice, explaining in their own words who they are or what they make or why they make it!  Marketing or promoting their work is probably the hardest part of being successful for an individual artisan and my videos are a way to get those stories out. 

We love the short audio/video piece you created for our Fall Fashion Expo 2013! We're curious to know what led you to create it the way you did?

When I looked at the scene in the Armory in Durham I wanted to convey what it was like to be there and doing it only with still images or just video wasn’t going to capture it. Then I looked at all the vendors and all the volunteer models and I thought about all the energy it took to put on the “show”. That led me to recording the ambient sound from the show and wanting to get background information from the three co-founders on how this all started. That comes from the journalist side of me, my first job when I was 18 was as a part-time writer for a daily newspaper.

Is the piece you created for us your first?

No. I’ve done several over the past year. My first was a bit by accident. A friend asked me if I would photograph a local professional saxophonist who was updating his webpage to promote his work. When I met him it struck me that hearing him talk about his art might appeal to some who were looking for an instructor or a performer. I used a small audio digital recorder and recorded an interview with him, he sent me samples of several musical pieces and I incorporated it all together into a final product. I’ve been pleased with how popular it has been on his
web page. 

I think that approach can work for any of the artisans involved in the Redress movement! 

What should an artisan expect if they want you to create a piece for them?

There are several steps in the process. I would want to spend a few hours with them to shoot still images. These could be portrait and/or images of them at work, with their work. Depending on the type of environment where this is done I might also record some ambient audio while this is done. Then we would have a conversation which would involve me interviewing them and talking about their work, which I would record. I use a small digital audio recorder which takes up little space. 

The bulk of the time in creating the final product is spent editing the material, mostly the audio which takes more time. It’s a matter of listening and finding pertinent information that fits best to convey a message about the individual then matching it with an image that helps convey a message. 

I use SoundCloud.com in the production process to allow the individual the ability to hear the audio both in it’s raw state and the proposed final edited state. Then I mesh the audio and images into a video file which is hosted on vimeo.com , an excellent video site. Vimeo, unlike Youtube, doesn’t sell ads, it’s strictly a video hosting site. The individual has the ability to embed the video on their own webpage as you’ve done.

I track statistics on how often the video is accessed, that helps me determine if the content is attracting attention.

What satisfaction do you get from creating the pieces?

First there is the creative side. I enjoy the challenge of creating the still images and sound recordings. Sound is something I started evolving into several years ago and it’s been a learning process. It also takes me back to when I did some journalistic writing, learning about people and their backgrounds.

Second is a sense of contribution in helping make the artisan successful. It isn’t easy to be successful as an artist and marketing and promotion is probably one of the toughest aspects. Today, promotion and advertising is primarily online. Thus individual artists need an online presence and they need content that attracts the viewer. I’m taking a bit of a different approach in creating that content.

Third, I think the eco-fashion mission is a good one, so I see a connection in promoting that mission through the individuals involved in the industry. 

What has the process taught you about working with artisans?

It’s reinforced the power of the creativity of the individual and their perseverance and the talent that’s all around us that we often overlook.

To get in touch with Carl Tyer and learn more about his services, contact him directly