These are the songs about photography I have enjoyed listening to over the years.
Each of the songs below features cameras, videos, photographers, photography, or some form of photographic element.
Whether you were looking for songs about pictures or songs about cameras, your search ends here.
If you need some inspiration or entertainment, play these songs about photography and read the background about them below.
(You can click the YouTube images to play each song)
Grab your headphones and a cup of tea, and let’s dive into the recommendations.
Table of Contents
20 Songs About Photography (Play Each One Below)
1. “Kodachrome” by Paul Simon
“Kodachrome,” released in 1973, is one of Paul Simon’s most famous songs.
Named after the iconic Kodak film, the song is a melancholic musing on the past.
Through its lyrics, Simon explores how photographs can encapsulate our memories and emotions.
Despite Kodak’s discontinuation of the film in 2009, the song remains an enduring tribute to the enduring power of photography and its role in our lives.
It’s worth noting that it was also the first major song to use a brand name in its title.
When this song was released, Kodak required approval for the use of its product names in advertisements, but Paul Simon was not asked for permission before the song’s release.
However, Kodak didn’t raise any legal issues, presumably because the song acted as free advertising.
2. “Photograph” by Ed Sheeran
“Photograph,” from Ed Sheeran’s second studio album “x” released in 2014, is a heartfelt love song.
In the lyrics, Sheeran describes a photograph of a loved one as a source of comfort during times of separation.
The song has been interpreted as a commentary on how photographs can serve as tangible memories, anchoring us to certain times, places, and people.
The song’s music video features real home footage from Sheeran’s childhood, effectively using the theme of photography and capturing moments to portray a very personal story.
The song was also part of a high-profile copyright infringement case.
3.”Picture To Burn” by Taylor Swift
“Picture To Burn” is one of Taylor Swift’s earliest hits, from her debut album in 2006.
The song’s title and lyrics refer to a photograph of an ex-boyfriend that Swift is eager to erase from her life.
As such, it’s an exploration of the pain that old photos can sometimes bring, reminding us of relationships that have ended and the emotions that linger afterwards.
This song is one of the few instances where Swift openly addresses an ex-boyfriend.
After releasing the track, she had to change a lyric to avoid a potential libel lawsuit from the boy who inspired the song.
4.”Photographs” by Rihanna ft. Will.i.am
“Photographs” is a track from Rihanna’s 2009 album “Rated R”.
The song sees Rihanna and Will.i.am trading verses about the pain of lost love, using photographs as a metaphor for the memories they can’t forget.
It captures how photos can serve as a reminder of past relationships, conveying the emotion and longing for what’s been left behind.
5. “Pictures of You” by The Cure
Released in 1989 as part of the band’s “Disintegration” album, “Pictures of You” is an evocative song about loss and memory.
It uses photography as a metaphor to express the feelings of longing and nostalgia that come with reminiscing over past relationships.
The song remains one of The Cure’s most popular tracks.
The inspiration behind the song is actually quite poignant. Robert Smith was inspired to write the song when a fire broke loose in his home.
Among the charred items that survived was his wallet which contained pictures of his wife.
6.”Freeze Frame” by The J. Geils Band
“Freeze Frame” by The J. Geils Band, released in 1981, utilizes photography as a metaphor for capturing a moment in time.
The song’s infectious energy underscores the theme of wanting to stop time, preserving the joy and thrill of the present.
“Freeze Frame” reached number 4 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.
The term “freeze frame” is a term used in cinematography, describing the act of freezing the motion picture to create a static image, showing the band’s penchant for blending different artistic expressions.
7. “3×5” by John Mayer
In this song from his 2001 album “Room for Squares,” John Mayer sings about a road trip and his regret at not having a camera (a 3×5) to capture the scenes he’s seeing.
It reflects on how life experiences are often more significant than photographs and emphasizes the importance of living in the moment.
8. “Photograph” by Nickelback
“Photograph” by Nickelback, released in 2005, is a sentimental song about nostalgia and the passage of time.
The song narrates a trip down memory lane through old photographs, examining the emotions, memories, and stories each snapshot holds.
The song’s music video was filmed in Hanna, Alberta, the small Canadian town where the band originated. The places shown in the video, such as the old high school and street scenes, are real locations from the band members’ pasts.
9. “People Take Pictures of Each Other” by The Kinks
From their 1968 album “The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society”, this song is a commentary on the culture of taking photos.
The Kinks express the human desire to immortalize moments through photography, yet suggest that this fixation might prevent us from truly living in the moment.
10. “Girls on Film” by Duran Duran
This 1981 release from Duran Duran, “Girls on Film”, is about the exploitation of fashion models in the photography industry.
The song sparked controversy due to its provocative music video, which was seen as a critique of the fashion industry’s treatment of its models.
The song’s controversial music video, directed by Godley & Creme, featured semi-naked women and lascivious scenes. The video was initially banned by the BBC, and a ‘clean’ version was created later for wide broadcast.
11. “This Is Not a Photograph” by Mission of Burma
Released in 1981 by the American post-punk band, this song explores the idea of photography as a method of freezing time but also questions the authenticity of these frozen moments.
It’s a deep dive into the philosophy of photography and the nature of reality.
12. “Photobooth” by Death Cab for Cutie
“Photobooth,” a track from the 2000 EP “Forbidden Love,” captures the nostalgia associated with photobooth pictures from past romantic relationships.
The song expresses a longing for those simpler, happier times and highlights how photographs serve as poignant reminders of the past.
13. “Take My Picture” by Filter
From their 2002 album “The Amalgamut,” “Take My Picture” is a song that uses the act of taking a photograph as a metaphor for longing to be noticed.
This longing extends beyond just the individual in the song, but also to society’s obsession with fame and recognition.
This song gained popularity and widespread recognition when it was used as the theme song for a commercial by an airline company, despite its somewhat cynical take on fame and the desire for recognition.
14. “Camera” by R.E.M.
“Camera,” from R.E.M.’s 1984 album “Reckoning,” is a heartfelt tribute to a friend of the band who tragically passed away.
The lyrics poignantly explore the theme of memory and loss, with the title “Camera” serving as a metaphor for the captured moments and memories encapsulated in photographs.
R.E.M. frontman Michael Stipe reportedly wrote this song as a tribute to a friend named Carol Levy, who passed away in a car accident.
Levy was a photographer, hence the reference to a “camera” in the song’s title.
15. “Swap Meet” by Nirvana
“Swap Meet” from Nirvana’s debut album “Bleach” released in 1989, uses photography in a more abstract way.
The song tells a story about people at a swap meet selling and trading their items, which include photographs.
The images in these photos are used to depict character traits and the interactions between them.
Despite being one of the lesser-known songs in Nirvana’s discography, “Swap Meet” is appreciated for its narrative lyricism and grunge sound that characterizes the band’s early works.
16. “Distant Camera” by Neil Young
Neil Young’s “Distant Camera” from his 1996 album “Broken Arrow” is a poignant reflection on time, change, and the desire to capture fleeting moments.
The song beautifully articulates the role of photography in capturing and preserving moments of our lives, giving us the means to look back and reflect.
This song is part of Neil Young’s “Broken Arrow” album which, upon its release, was a commercial disappointment. Despite this, it is now regarded as a deep-cut classic in Young’s extensive catalogue.
17. “Kamera” by Wilco
“Kamera” is a track from Wilco’s 2002 album “Yankee Hotel Foxtrot.”
The song’s lyrics, while abstract, seem to use the camera as a metaphor for how we frame and interpret our personal experiences.
It emphasizes the selective nature of memory, much like a photograph focuses on a particular scene.
The album “Yankee Hotel Foxtrot” was infamously rejected by their record label for not being commercially viable.
It was eventually released by another division of the same parent company and is now considered one of Wilco’s best works.
18. “Taro” by alt-J
“Taro,” from alt-J’s debut album “An Awesome Wave,” tells the story of renowned war photographers Robert Capa and Gerda Taro.
The song is a tribute to the couple’s love story, which ended with Taro’s death in the Spanish Civil War and Capa’s subsequent death years later.
It reflects on the danger and allure of warzone photography.
The song’s lyrics refer to the deaths of war photographers Robert Capa and Gerda Taro. The title “Taro” is a nod to Gerda Taro, whose real name was Gerta Pohorylle
19. “Itchin’ on a Photograph” by Grouplove
Grouplove’s “Itchin’ on a Photograph,” from their 2011 album “Never Trust a Happy Song,” uses a photograph as a metaphor for a past that the narrator can’t let go.
The song discusses the deep longing and nostalgia that comes with holding on to a physical manifestation of the past.
Grouplove’s debut album was named “Never Trust a Happy Song” as a tongue-in-cheek comment on the typically upbeat and energetic nature of their music, despite sometimes dealing with deeper themes, such as longing and nostalgia in “Itchin’ on a Photograph.”
20. “Paparazzi” by Lady Gaga
“Paparazzi,” released in 2008 by Lady Gaga, is a critique of the invasive celebrity culture perpetuated by paparazzi photographers.
The song highlights the tension between public figures and the media, examining the often destructive relationship between the two.
The song peaked at #6 on the Billboard Hot 100 and remains one of Gaga’s most well-known songs.
The song served as a prophecy of Lady Gaga’s own experience with fame.
The music video, directed by Jonas Åkerlund, also caused a stir with its controversial themes and cinematic approach.
It portrayed Gaga as a starlet who is killed by the paparazzi, thus commenting on the destructive nature of fame.
5 Songs with ‘Photograph’ in the Lyrics
I hope you enjoyed all the above songs about photography as much as me.
Now here’s a list of some songs I know with the word ‘photograph’ in the lyrics:
- “Photograph” by Ed Sheeran: The lyrics go “Loving can hurt, loving can hurt sometimes / But it’s the only thing that I know / When it gets hard, you know it can get hard sometimes / It is the only thing that makes us feel alive / We keep this love in a photograph / We made these memories for ourselves…”
- “Photograph” by Nickelback: The lyrics include “Look at this photograph / Every time I do it makes me laugh / How did our eyes get so red? / And what the hell is on Joey’s head?”
- “Photograph” by Ringo Starr: Starr sings, “All I’ve got is a photograph / And I realize you’re not coming back anymore”
- “Photograph” by Def Leppard: The band sings “Photograph – I don’t want your / Photograph – I don’t need your / Photograph – All I’ve got is a photograph / But it’s not enough”
- “Photographs and Memories” by Jim Croce: In this song, the lyrics go “Photographs and memories / Christmas cards you sent to me / All that I have are these / To remember you…” This song about photography is a poignant expression of how photographs and memories can serve as reminders of people and moments that we’ve lost.
5 Songs with ‘Camera’ in the Lyrics
Now here’s a list of some songs I found with ‘camera’ in the lyrics:
- “Into the Lens” by Yes: The lyrics go “I am a camera / Camera camera / I am a camera, camera camera / There by the waterside / Here where the lens is wide / You and me / By the sea.”
- “Camera Phone” by The Game ft. Ne-Yo: “And you’re a star and I got my camera phone / (I got my camera phone) / I’m looking at you, you’re looking at me and you’re a star (I like that right there).”
- “Kamera” by Wilco: The lyrics mention “I need a camera to my eye / To my eye, reminding / Which lies have I been hiding / Which echoes belong / I’ve counted out days / To see how far / I’ve driven in the dark / With echoes in my heart.”