Please read this before your next band photo shoot

6617 32

Band photography: how to take great images that will get you pressYou want to take great band photos, don’t you? Not just ones where everyone’s in focus and the bassist remembered to wipe the stalactite of spit from his upper lip?

Yeah, of course you do. We all do — especially when the difference between your music getting ignored and getting big exposure in the press often comes down to one thing: having great band photos.

But in order to get that great shot you’re going to need the right clothes, the right setting, the right lighting, the right expression at the right moment, and the right photographer to catch it all in one instant. For many of us, that’s already a tall order. Now consider this: a single band photo is not enough.

You need great band PHOTOS — plural.

Why?

Well, both you and “the media” are going to use your band photos in multiple ways. Editors and bloggers want options. The easier you make things for them, the better your chances of getting press coverage in the form of album reviews, concert previews, band interviews, and more.

Unless your photographer can capture one image that fulfills all the requirements listed below, you should aim for taking a handful of good photos.

Here’s what you should discuss with your photographer long before the photo shoot:

1. Landscape vs. Portrait orientation

Depending on how their article is laid out on the page or screen, a music editor might want to use a wide shot, or they may prefer a taller, skinnier image. Make sure you’ve got at least one of each in your online press kit so the publication covering your music will have access to the images they need.

2. Cropping

Again, depending on their formatting needs, an editor may want to crop one of your photos. Make sure you have at least one image where portions of the picture can be sacrificed without killing the overall composition.

3. Close-ups of each member 

There are a few reasons you’ll want to get good close-up shots of each member of the band: a profile piece that covers each person individually; an ABOUT page on your website that has separate member bios; etc. You COULD get these individual shots by cropping each person from a band photo, by why not make it easier on everyone and take the portraits during the photo shoot?

4. Thumbnails

On the web, everything is SHRINKING (except for that bolded word)! And now, when most people are accessing the Internet via smartphone, pictures are getting even smaller. So be prepared. Make sure your band photos either look great as thumbnails or snap a few new shots that WILL.

5. Web banners or other advertisements

If you use an image of your band in a banner advertisement, you’re going to need a lot of space for the actual copy (text) of the ad that overlays the image. That means, most likely, that the band members are off to one side and the writing is on the other side. If one of your standard press photos can’t be cropped to suit this purpose you’ll want to take some shots with this goal specifically in mind.

6. A website background

If you have a website design or template that uses a large background image, it can be really cool to use a picture that was taken during the same photo shoot as the band photos you’re sending to the media. But again, you’ll want to make sure you leave some space for your web content, widgets, etc. Otherwise your music player might be sitting right on top of the lead singer’s face.

7. Header images for social media profiles

Think of the space at the top of your band’s Facebook page. It’s kinda like a landscape-oriented photo, but stretched. It’s usually difficult to crop or resize existing band photos into those dimensions, so it’s a good idea to plan accordingly before your next photo shoot.

8. Elements of album art or web design

If you’re looking to use some aspect of your band photos in your album art or web design, make sure the photographer knows upfront. It will probably alter how they approach certain shots.

9. Black & White

Here’s another one that is important when you think about getting press coverage. Print media, for obvious cost reasons, often favors B&W photos. If you’ve got a stunning color photo that works well on the web or in a glossy magazine — but loses its power when it goes to gray — well, use that one for the web and glossy magazines! Then make sure you’ve got some shots that are equally captivating without color.

10. Clean, clutter-free images

Sometimes it can be charming to have a busy photograph. A messy studio, a crowded stage, etc. But if one of those kinds of shots is your go-to press photo, make sure to give the media some clutter-free options too. They’re easier to lay text over and they’re easier for the viewer to make sense of when shown in B&W.

—-

Again, discuss these considerations with your photographer long before the photo shoot; make sure she knows the goal is to get a great picture for each of the uses mentioned above. Once you’ve got good band photos, you’ll also have a huge advantage over other acts in this competitive music biz game called “getting press.”

What are your tricks for taking great band photos? Did we miss any standard uses of band images? Let us know in the comments below.

Get Your Music Featured in the 
Press

[Photographer image from Shutterstock.]

In this article

Join the Conversation

  • Noe Sherinian

    Have a pro do it! Surprisingly enough, it’s not even that expensive, I can recommend this guy: http://patrickhaeberli.4ormat.com/music-sessions

    • Eagledmasters

      Also – my photographer drove up from another city, but he is from my city originally. Right before the shoot, I learned that it was up to me to have shoot locations planned for us! Photographers don’t automatically have locations planned for the shoot, especially if they are from out of town. I had some in mind, and it wasn’t anyone’s fault for not solidifying that info first. I just had to decide right then and there. We did alright, but one of the best locations was chosen because I thought “you could see the whole city from this high point”. Well – that was in spring, when everything wasn’t in bloom… so now it’s last weekend, and everything is IN bloom, and you couldn’t see the city at all. Sigh. Anyway, make sure to scope out a location before the shoot, if it’s been awhile since you’ve visited. Hope this info helps anyone out there.

  • Dave Merrill

    Great artical… however I would add plan your wordrobe. Nothing worse than one group member who looks like a complete outsider in shorts and an iron maiden tshirt (… well, that is unless he or she can rock an Eddie shirt like no other) lol

  • Dave Merrill

    Great artical… however I would add plan your wordrobe. Nothing worse than one group member who looks like a complete outsider in shorts and an iron maiden tshirt (… well, that is unless he or she can rock an Eddie shirt like no other) lol

  • Axeman_sfr

    I have to agree with Gene. Sure there are more avenues for making *some* income from music, but that’s not the point. Name 20 bands that were household names and influenced millions of aspiring rockers that became established in the 70’s or 80’s. Piece of cake. Now do the same for the 2000s or 2010’s. I rest my case.

  • Stephen Borgovini

    check out
    http://www.ccjonesandtheforgotten.com/
    for an example of a great website with great photography.

  • Stephen Borgovini

    check out
    http://www.ccjonesandtheforgotten.com/
    for an example of a great website with great photography.

  • JCarlson

    And please, dear god, NO – I repeat NO more photos on railroad tracks!

  • Decoryanjemellemusic

    Nice One.. I used some of these tips on my site. http://Www.decoryanjemellemusic.com
    Thank you!!

  • Amygal

    Aaaaannnnnd, the minute you take a band photo, someone will leave. http://bluegrasstoday.com/band-photos-dont-do-it

    • Haha. Yeah. Make sure they’re actually gonna stay in the band!

      @ChrisRobley

    • Haha. Yeah. Make sure they’re actually gonna stay in the band!

      @ChrisRobley

      • sweet. I have been reading you for a long time; this one hit home in a special way though, I guess. 🙂 Keep writing sir, and I hope to hear you play live one day. Certainly consider yourself to have a friend in Vancouver, BC. 😉

        • Thanks! I’d love to get back there someday soon. I played at… Railway Club? Railroad Club? Something like that, years back. Then played in Nanaimo and Victoria. Fun little tour.

          @ChrisRobley

  • Kitty Skrobela

    Now to see if I can say again what I already said.
    1. Give more thought to albums as well as all the above.
    2. Be sure to make high res photos easy for press to get to. Put visible low res thumbnails on a web page and allow them to be clicked to retrieve the high res version.

  • Kitty Skrobela

    Now to see if I can say again what I already said.
    1. Give more thought to albums as well as all the above.
    2. Be sure to make high res photos easy for press to get to. Put visible low res thumbnails on a web page and allow them to be clicked to retrieve the high res version.

  • Samrat Bee

    What about wearing helmets and that sort of viking mentality ? Or even fish or dolphin costumes … ? Does that work better ?
    Just kidding. I totally prefer showing circuits, spaceships, odd machines, l.e.d screens and such things instead of faces and traditional instruments.

  • Samrat Bee

    What about wearing helmets and that sort of viking mentality ? Or even fish or dolphin costumes … ? Does that work better ?
    Just kidding. I totally prefer showing circuits, spaceships, odd machines, l.e.d screens and such things instead of faces and traditional instruments.

  • Eagledmasters

    Sorry, my post below was just a general post, not in response to Noe below!

  • HowieWest

    Don’t forget an image to use on business cards, postcards and one for posters. Do you have a picture you can sell at your merch table and personally autograph?

    Since I am a musician and also a pro photographer, let me also raise the copyright issue. Make sure your agreement with the photographer gives you the right to reproduce the images (licensing) and to allow others to do the same (that’s called sublicensing). Make sure he provides you with fully edited, high resolution jpeg’s.

    Another commenter suggested you use a professional photographer. I concur and add: not just anyone who happens to own an expensive camera.

    Here’s how you can find a good one. The PPA (Professional Photographers of America) has a ‘find a photographer service’ at http://www.ppa.com/findaphotographer/. Scroll down the page and enter your search criteria, check the ‘certified’ box and run your search. Talk to several photographers to find one you ‘connect’ with and give them the link to this article. By the way, a good photographer is not going to work for free.

  • Eagledmasters

    Also – my photographer drove up from another city, but he is from my city originally. Right before the shoot, I learned that it was up to me to have shoot locations planned for us! Photographers don’t automatically have locations planned for the shoot, especially if they are from out of town. I had some in mind, and it wasn’t anyone’s fault for not solidifying that info first. I just had to decide right then and there. We did alright, but one of the best locations was chosen because I thought “you could see the whole city from this high point”. Well – that was in spring, when everything wasn’t in bloom… so now it’s last weekend, and everything is IN bloom, and you couldn’t see the city at all. Sigh. Anyway, make sure to scope out a location before the shoot, if it’s been awhile since you’ve visited. Hope this info helps anyone out there.

  • Excellent post Chris, here’s my thoughts. Apologies if linking is not okay on this page. It’s hard to keep the ever changing web etiquette straight. 🙂

    http://www.elegwen.com/what-photographers-do-wrong-shooting-bands-other-artists/

  • Hi E,

    Saw this on Facebook yesterday. Thanks for reading, and expounding on your own blog. Love it. And yes, it’s totally fine to share links here. ; )

    @ChrisRobley

  • Hi E,

    Saw this on Facebook yesterday. Thanks for reading, and expounding on your own blog. Love it. And yes, it’s totally fine to share links here. ; )

    @ChrisRobley

  • Definitely discuss locations in advance! Good addition to the list. Thanks.

    @ChrisRobley

  • Definitely discuss locations in advance! Good addition to the list. Thanks.

    @ChrisRobley

  • Great suggestions. Thanks for sharing.

    @ChrisRobley