Jazz and Photography

…..and saying YES to possibilities.

I’ve been listening to jazz since I was 17 years old. I’ve been taking photos since I was 19 years old. They are and have always been my two favorite pastimes for all these decades. Several years ago it occurred to me that it would be fun to combine the two for a project but couldn’t quite figure out how. I could go to jazz venues here and there and try to get close enough for a couple of interesting shots. I could photograph jazz instruments. I could shoot vinyl spinning on a turntable. Of course I did all those things but it just wasn’t satisfying, I wanted more. So as time went on and the years passed the idea just floated around in the back of my mind. I would add a lucky shot here and there but really nothing much materialized out of it so it just became a smaller and smaller idea but still something I knew I wanted to do.

Well that’s changed now. Thanks to keeping an open mind, always saying yes to possibility, keeping in touch with what’s important and being awake to windows and doors of opportunity, I have found myself right smack dab in the middle of a life long dream; Combining Jazz and Photography.

How it began; A few months ago I saw an opportunity to sit in on a live studio session with the GoGo Penquin  at my favorite Seattle/Tacoma radio station KNKX 88.5 Jazz Blues and NPR News20170912-_DSF3269. At that session I met some of the people at the KNKX studio including DJ Abe Beeson .  I took a few shots of the band and a couple around the studio and suddenly the dream had awakened once again. Not being sure how to continue, and I’m not a pushy person, I waited with open eyes and an open heart toward what could possibly be next. I created a small gallery on my website for Jazz Photography , wrote a short blog post about the event and decided to send it to Abe.

A couple of weeks passed and I was invited back up to the studio for another studio session, this time with The Barrett Martin Group .  I took more photos, you can see them here , and suddenly 20170919-_DSF3519-Editit felt like my desire to combine Jazz and Photography was closer than ever before.

Since then I’ve been to a few more studio sessions, I’ve seen a few more great groups at Dimitriou’s Jazz Alley  (my favorite jazz club in Seattle) and have created the start to a nice gallery of photos on my website, combining Jazz and Photography.

Then along came (for me) the opportunity of a life-time. KNKX was looking for volunteer photographers. I wasn’t sure what they wanted but I knew what I wanted and this was it. By now I had already met several people at the station and for no other reason but to work with these wonderful people, that would be enough. To say nothing of the fact that I’ve been listening to this radio station for decades and have been a supporter for years. I tossed my photographic hat into the ring immediately.

A week or so passed before I heard back that I was being considered. They needed to follow through with some paper work and (I assume) take a closer look at me and my on-line presence. That was in February of this year. Since then I’ve been on six assignments, met and photographed more jazz musicians and have met more of the wonderful staff at KNKX.

Preparing yourself for something to happen is important. I didn’t sit around and wait for this to happen, I did things. I collected my best photographs of Jazz Musicians from over the years and created a gallery of them on my website at Tom Collins Photography I wrote a few articles in my blog, set up an Instagram dedicated to my jazz photography Tom on IG (thank you to Steven Collins for that great idea) and had business cards made and, I know the two subjects I’m interested in very well. In other words if anything was ever to happen, to open up towards an opportunity to put Jazz and Photography together, I would be ready.

There are sayings for times like this; “Lucky”; “being in the right place at the right time”; “it’s who you know”, but those all suggest an idea outside of your control. My thoughts on that are; that you know what you want; that you keep an open mind toward achieving it; and that you keep your eyes, mind and heart open to the possibility of it presenting itself at anytime, in any form and being prepared to say YES!

Below are a few photos from some of what I’ve been able to do and see since coming on-board with KNKX.

Curtis Stigers ~ Live Studio Session at KNKX Studio
Kenny Washington ~ Jazz Vocalist from the Bay Area (KNKX Live Studio Session)
Anton Schwartz ~ Musician from the Bay Area (KNKX Live Studio Session)
Abe Beeson ~ KNKX DJ with a fan at the 2018 Seattle Folk Life Festival
The KNKX booth at the 2018 Seattle Folk Life Festival


A special thank you goes out to the Staff at KNKX who are a thoughtful, kind and appreciative family; to all the jazz musicians who so gracefully allow me to photograph them and my son Steve Collins ( his IG ) for cheering me on and giving me great ideas.

Thanks for following along. Tom



  1. You’ve honed your photographic talents, trained your ear, worked hard, never gave up and you’re being rewarded with such an opportunity. You deserve it. It’s the perfect mix of your two passions. Looking forward to seeing how this develops.

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