Music Biz Tips: Taking Professional Artist Photos!

As your music career evolves, you'll need to take professional musician and band photos to excel in the music biz. This is because the image you present to the public is crucial. Therefore, it's wise to ditch your band's random, low-resolution snaps and trade them for professional images.

Smartphones today are equipped with high-grade cameras, so it may seem like a breeze to take professional photos. You could go this route using the self-timer function. Or you could enlist the help of a friend or family member to take your pictures. However, your images may not come out as well as you think. That’s why we recommend working with an experienced photographer.

Investing in quality photography will pay off in the end. Fans and people in the music biz will view your images as a reflection of your music and personality. Therefore, the last thing you want is an adverse first impression.

This post will show you how to take professional musician and band photos. Let’s look at why they're essential first.

Why You Need to Take Professional Musician and Band Photos in the Music Biz

When you’re new to making music, the photos you take on your smartphone might suffice for social media and DSP profiles. However, when you start selling out venues, you need to have professional photos taken.

Think of the photos of yourself or your band as someone’s first impression of you and your music. If your images are generic and low quality, people may have similar preconceptions about your music. As a result, ensure you always put out good-quality pictures.

The importance of taking professional musician and band photos goes beyond public perception. There are several uses for photos of yourself or your band, including:

There’ll be many eyes on your photos. Promoters, reporters, and other key players in the music biz will use them to get a sense of who you are.

That’s why you need to take professional musician and band photos to increase your chances of success in the music biz. With decent images, you might end up on the cover of a popular magazine. And venues will be thrilled to have your posters for shows strewn around your town or city.

Moreover, you can create a revenue stream from your professional images. You can use your photos on merchandise, like t-shirts and stickers, and sell them at shows. Alternatively, print posters with pictures of yourself or your band and sell them to fans.

Music Biz Tips: Taking Professional Musician and Band Photos

You can choose one of two routes to take professional musician and band photos as an artist. First, you can use your smartphone. With smartphone manufacturers making cameras much more advanced, anyone can take a decent picture with their phone.

However, this route isn’t one we’d recommend. This is because even with the highest quality phone camera, you risk taking photos that aren’t appealing. And you may not have the expertise to edit these photos effectively. And unappealing photos could have an adverse effect on your progress in the music biz.

Hiring a photographer is your second and safest alternative to taking pictures yourself. If you have the budget for band photography, get an experienced photographer on board. They'll have the right skills to get the best shot of you or your band. And they'll handle all the edits, so you don't have to.

If you don't have a budget, it's best to save some cash from gigs to hire an experienced photographer. Before looking for a photographer, you'll have to iron out some details. In the next section, we'll look at the pre-shoot checklist for your band photography.

Pre-shoot Checklist

You should cover several bases before hiring a photographer to take professional musician and band photos. This will ensure the shoot goes smoothly. And you pay for pictures you can use for everything from promotional materials to album artwork. Below are some considerations to keep in mind before your photoshoot.

1. Gather Inspiration

Suppose you have an idea of how your photos should look. In that case, you’ve tackled one essential aspect of getting your pictures taken.

Gather inspiration if you're still on the fence about how you'd like to take professional musician and band photos. You can find photos of bands in your genre on social media platforms like Instagram and Pinterest. Also, you can check out other artists' websites, magazines, blogs, and your favorite album covers.

While looking at the band photos, note their overlapping similarities. What do you like, and what would you do differently? In addition, look out for the following:

  • Their poses and facial expressions
  • Recurring locations
  • Props used (drumsticks or instruments)
  • The clothes they’re wearing
  • Color schemes

As you’re gathering inspiration, think about how you’d like the world to see you and your music. Do you want to present a serious look? Or would a fun and light image be more suitable for you?

You have the final say in your band’s image. That’s why you should figure out how you’d like your photos to look before having a photoshoot. It’ll help you be more comfortable in front of the camera. And it will ensure your photographer has some direction to take professional musician and band photos.

2. Find Unique Locations

Where you shoot your photos is essential. The last thing you want is an overdone backdrop, like train tracks or a brick wall. Therefore, scout for unique locations and portray your music's style.

Search for possible locations ahead of booking a shoot. You can check out local restaurants, museums, attractions, and parks. If any of these places require permission to use, don’t hesitate to ask.

Alternatively, a studio shoot might work better for you. A neutral background with ample surrounding lighting can make for professional images just as much as outdoor locations. In this case, the photographer you hire may have a studio space already.

However, it would be wise to check out studios near you if the photographer doesn't have a permanent space. Find out if you can rent the studio and what rate they charge.

3. Choose Your Outfits

The next thing you'll want to sort out before you take professional musician and band photos is what you’ll wear. Your outfit can make or break your pictures. In a way, it echoes your personality and tells your story.

If you’re going for a relaxed vibe, avoid any garments that make you appear overly serious. And if your goal were to look broody, you'd have to choose a suitable color palette.

It's always best to go to your shoot with several outfits. After all, you'll take more than one picture, so you need different garments for different locations. It also gives you options if a garment doesn’t work with the background or lighting.

Also, comfortability is key. Wear what you love, as this will eliminate any tension in front of the camera.

If you’re in a band, cohesion between everyone will make your photos look less like a hot mess. The last thing you want is for your pictures to look like they’re a compilation of two different bands.

Therefore, agree on colors and styles with your bandmates. Decide on the small things, too, like accessories, sunglasses, and hats. Also, consider where you’ll be shooting to determine which outfits will be appropriate.

If unsure, think about what you'd wear to a performance and choose that outfit. Or ask someone who works closely with you for fashion advice. Remember that while stylish rips aren’t frowned upon, wrinkles are.

4. Plan Hair and Makeup

Your hairstyle and make-up are other essential aspects to sort out before you take professional musician and band photos. Ensure you get a haircut, so you look neat in your pictures. And trim your beard because it’ll be near impossible for the photographer to fix straggly tendrils during edits.

If you have the budget available, consider enlisting the services of a make-up artist. Your photographer will likely know a few good make-up artists you can contact. In fact, most professional photographers can provide a list of make-up artists to suit different budgets.

A make-up artist plays an integral role in professional photoshoots. And having one at your disposal will significantly increase your chances of producing amazing band or musician photos.

5. Decide on the Type of Photos

You should decide on the pictures you need taken before booking a photoshoot. This is because a single photo shot in portrait orientation may not be helpful in some cases, like gig posters. Therefore, ensure you get multiple pictures for digital media (blogs, podcasts, etc.), magazines, newspapers, album artwork, and social media.

Think of why you need to take professional musician and band photos. Say, for instance, you're planning a show and need to make posters. In this case, the photographer must take a wide shot so there's enough blank space for text.

The orientation of your photos will also depend on the use. With digital media, a wide shot is ideal for cropping. Having enough space in the picture is always best.

These are some types of photos to have captured:

  • An image that can be blown up without degrading the quality
  • A photo with ample space on the left or right side (for digital ads and banners)
  • A picture you can crop without it becoming pixelated
  • Headshots
  • Pictures showing your entire body
  • Individual photos of band members and group images

You’ll also want your photos in color and black and white. And in landscape and portrait orientations. Now that you know all the pre-shoot best practices, it’s time to hire a photographer.

Hiring and Working With a Photographer

Having an experienced photographer take professional musician and band photos for you is vital to your advancement in the music biz. While you can enlist the services of family or friends, they may not do as good a job. Therefore, work with someone who'll do justice to your image.

Ensure you communicate all your ideas for the shoot to the photographer beforehand. Last-minute changes will not only throw their flow off but may also result in subpar photos.

1. Finding a Photographer

Photographers are abundant these days. You could stumble upon one without diving deep on the internet or asking multiple people. This is especially true if you search for a photographer on social media.

You can find several options for photographers using your social media accounts. There are also several subreddits for photographers on Reddit you can check out. Other websites like Snappr, Canvera, and SmartShoot are also helpful for finding a photographer in your area.

Alternatively, ask fellow artists in your network for recommendations. If you come up short on recommendations, check out the credits on band photos you’ve come across. The photographer’s name is typically listed.

Local print media will also list the names of band photographers whenever artists are featured. You can track the photographer down by searching Google or a social media platform.

2. Hiring a Photographer

When hiring a photographer, it’s best to have several options. Find out whether they’ve taken pictures of artists or bands before and ask to see their portfolio. This will give you an idea of their style and experience. Also, check out their rates to see if they'll work with your budget.

The photographer’s quote will contain several variables, including gear and studio rental fees. There are also costs for editing and other factors you don’t need to account for to get your professional photos taken.

However, quotes differ from one photographer to another. Some may already have a studio, so they don't need to quote you for the rental fee. Others may have their own gear, so they won't have to rent it.

The photos you want taken also influence what a photographer will quote you. And the number of members in your band may affect the cost.

Understanding the different fees can help you negotiate a price. For instance, if you found the perfect location for your shoot, you can do away with studio rental fees. The photographer may quote you less if you can handle transport to different locations.

Discuss the turnaround time with the photographer as you narrow down your list according to cost and availability. If you need to take professional musician and band photos urgently, you should communicate this to them. This will ensure there aren't any surprises on their side and disappointments on yours.

Also, assess the photographers’ workflow. Everyone has a different approach to photography and working with clients. Therefore, you should see if their methods would work for you.

While it's best to go with someone with experience photographing artists, don't disqualify anyone who hasn't photographed bands before. They may just shoot decent, professional images at more affordable rates.

3. Planning the Shoot

Once you're set on a photographer and have enlisted their services, you'll discuss the call and start time for the shoot. The call time is when you should be at the agreed-upon location. This gives you time to meet the photographer. The start time is when the photographer starts the shoot.

As is the case with any gig you play, timing is essential. Therefore, stick to the time schedule and be prepared for the shoot. If you go beyond the allocated time, the photographer may have to cut the shoot short because of another engagement.

Also, ensure you communicate all your ideas for the shoot to the photographer beforehand. Last-minute changes will not only throw their flow off but may also result in subpar photos.

The minutes between the call and start time are also perfect for planning poses. If you aren't used to being photographed offstage, it can feel awkward, and you may not know how to pose. Therefore, be sure to discuss poses with your photographer beforehand.

Post-Shoot Best Practices

Once the photo shoot is done, you can get back to focusing on your music. However, there are some post-shoot matters to handle and keep in mind.

1. Be Timely When Choosing Photos

While the photographer will use expert judgment to choose the best photos to show you, they'll still require your input. Therefore, when choosing which photos to keep, be timely about it.

If you take long, the project will run longer, cutting into your time and that of the photographer. And don’t forget to get all your bandmates’ input if you took group photos.

2. Give Credit Where It’s Due

Once you get the deliverables, settle your quote, and bid your photographer goodbye, you can start using your pictures. However, don’t forget to credit the photographer.

Your contract may require you to credit the photographer when you use the photos in certain places. In some cases, your contract won’t stipulate this. Still, it’d only be fair to credit your photographer.

Also, leave the photographer a review or recommend them on your social media profiles. This will cement your relationship so you can return to them if you need photos taken in the future.

The Bottom Line

You’ll be amazed at what quality photos can do for your music career. They can help you present a professional image to promoters and other key players in the music biz. And potential fans can get a great first impression of you.

Therefore, consider taking professional musician and band photos as a vital part of boosting your career in the music biz. If you have a budget for band photography, enlist the services of an experienced photographer. Some photographers have affordable rates even if you don't have much to spend on photography.

It's vital that during your shoot, you remain true to yourself. Having professional photos taken should highlight your personality. Therefore, show your authentic self instead of who you think people want you to be. As your music is an expression of yourself, your photos should be too.

Speaking of expressing yourself through your music, Sugo Music Group has helped several artists achieve this for over 35 years. They specialize in publishing and distributing music. Therefore, they can get your music onto over 200 music streaming and download platforms. If you’re ready to take your career in the music biz to the next level, reach out to them today.


  • theIndie Editor

    Sam Poole is a content writer with a deep love for music and the music industry. As theIndie Editor, Sam aims to provide practical and actionable tips to help indie artists effectively promote their music and succeed. [email protected] Poole Sam

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