The Modest Mouse Project


When we were given the assignment, I had many thoughts and project ideas running through my mind. I love to read, enjoy music and value other photographer’s work so to narrow it down into one concrete photography project was difficult. I want to have an idea that makes the viewer think and inspires emotion. One of the things that inspires me the most is music and my favorite band, Modest Mouse. They invoke strong imagery into their song lyrics and even the song titles. My mission statement of this project is to showcase a collection of photos to tell a story through their song titles and/or lyrics.

1) As I drive down to London, Ohio for training, my mind races with photography opportunities and how I can tie my story together. I am staying at a hotel in the midst of farmland and it brings these lyrics to my mind from Modest Mouse that can set the stage for the first photo.

“Little Motel”

“I hope that you like it in your little motel And I hope that the suite sleeps and suits you well… Well, I can see it as time and a sight through smell and That’s why it’s nice to be yourself”

Modest Mouse "Little Motel"

Modest Mouse “Little Motel”

2) The second image shows the man by himself, looking off over the city. I was in downtown Columbus taking skyline photos when I realized how interesting this white illuminated bridge was and figured it would work well for a solitary shot. The song I chose with this image is:

“Talking Shit About a Pretty Sunset”

“Changed my mind so much I can’t even trust it My mind changed me so much I can’t even trust myself”

Talking Shit About a Pretty Sunset by Modest Mouse

Talking Shit About a Pretty Sunset by Modest Mouse

3) The third image is a self realization shot summed up by the following lyrics. The shadow played well against the light to add to the internal struggle of the character. This effect was achieved by dodging and burning areas of the image.

“Baby Blue Sedan”

“And I’m lonesome when you’re around And I’m never lonesome when I’m by myself And I miss you when you’re around”

Baby Blue Sedan by Modest Mouse

Baby Blue Sedan by Modest Mouse

4) The fourth image displays the man distraught, with an old photo of him and the girl and a bottle of whiskey by his side. I had prepared this shot ahead of time in my head and actually executed consistent with what I wanted. For this shot, the song:

“Whenever You Breathe out, I Breathe In”

“I didn’t go to work for a month I didn’t leave my bed for eight days straight I haven’t hung out with anyone ‘Cause if I did, I’d have nothing to say”

whenever you breathe in, I breathe out by modest mouse

Whenever You Breathe In, I Breathe Out by Modest Mouse

5) The fifth photo is of a map with the route planned out to find the girl. It is inspired by the song “Trucker’s Atlas.” Whenever I take a road trip, this song perfectly complements ones love to travel. Modest Mouse outlines so many different destinations in this song and I took the time to trace the route he has listed. The man chases the woman to different destinations she could be at until he finds her?
Interesting side note: I checked with about 10 different stores to find a full United States map.

“Trucker’s Atlas”

“I don’t feel and it feels great I sold my atlas by the freight stairs I do lines and I crossed roads I crossed the lines of all the great state roads”

Trucker's Atlas by Modest Mouse

Trucker’s Atlas by Modest Mouse

6) The last photo is of when I pulled into the motel. It was snowing so hard and I knew that it would make a good shot with a long exposure to add to the mysterious mood. I didn’t know this would be the ending photo until I listened to the song

“One Chance” by Modest Mouse.

“We have one chance. One chance, to get everything right.”

one chance by modest mouse

One Chance by Modest Mouse

The photo is up for interpretation in the viewer’s mind if the man is successful and finds the woman at her hotel. The hardest part of the project was to visualize what songs meant a lot to me and what lyrics provoked the most emotion. I was confident in the technical aspect and execution of the shots but the challenging part was to make the story flow in logical sense. I debated whether or not to take a picture of the woman of desire in the flesh but opted to let the viewer decipher what the woman looks like. I did leave the small photo inside of photo 3 to get a glimpse but I mainly wanted the viewer to use their imagination. This project made me look deep inside and try to emphasize the strong imagery of the band’s beautiful and haunting lyrics.