The New Stuff

Band Promotion: How to Shoot Conceptual Band Photos

If you are a new band, you will eventually need conceptual band photos for your CD packaging, album art, website, press kit, posters, shirts, and other stuff needed for band promotion.  Now you DO NOT want to slack off in this department because it’s your way to get noticed. I will say it again: Good music is good music but good music will not go anywhere without great music marketing.  And we know it starts with good marketing requires good visuals sooo…let’s talk about band photos.

Get someone with good taste. If you are an indie act and you cannot afford an art director, then you should at least ask assistance from someone who has good taste. Well, that’s a rather vague order but that’s the simplest way to put it. This could mean you ask some of your artist friends to help you brainstorm, or an art teacher, a band publicist. Tell them you have no cash but are willing to place their name in the CD packaging or your website. It is important that you ask help from someone who’ve seen and studied lots of pictures already and are knowledgeable about the basics- rule of thirds, depth of field, etc.

Define the output that you want. Write down the photos that you want-band portrait, solo full-body shots, mug shots, etc. and also indicate how you want to use them (website, merch, stickers).  Be ultra specific. It helps a lot.

Let them listen to your music. Gather your artist friends, photographer, production designer, and stylist together and let them listen to your music. Choose at least 3 songs that you think best represents your band.

Tell them how you want to be packaged. Before the meeting, write down a list of things, places, colors…anything you want your band to be associated to.  Write down words like dark, funny, expensive, cheap, DIY, hip, intellectuals, stupids, anti-art, crazy but nice…you get the picture.

Location. Do you have a location in mind? Ask your bandmates,family, friends, cousins, co-workers if they have a location that would look good in photographs. Make sure they’re available and that they’re willing to let you use these locations for free. List them down so you have easy options when you brainstorm. It’s much easier to brainstorm if you already have options for location. Most of the time, the concept starts from a good location.  Take snapshots of these locations and present them during your meeting so the photographer would know what to prepare. If you can, please stay away from very common locations like red brick walls unless you’ll put a new element in the picture.

Clothes, Props, and Set. You should definitely hire a production designer who will take care of these three. Or, if you don’t want to pay someone, you can ask your younger sister to do this for you. The important thing is you have to assign someone to look over these things because they are very important. The colors of your clothes must have a relationship with the colors of the set (either they blend or contrast). The props should be complete and well-picked. Breakables like wine glasses should have doubles in case it gets broken during the shoot. Find someone who’s organized, meticulous, and who has an eye for detail. This is no easy job. But if you think production design is minimal and you are an organized team, then maybe you can do it by yourselves.

Let the photographer do his thing. You already gave him a list of photos that you want but it doesn’t mean that he won’t experiment. Let him snap away. He knows what he’s doing so don’t get too bossy during the shoot. You already told him what you want, now it’s his time to take over and do what he’s good at. Unless,of course, if you have a director.

Some more tips:

Do not make other appointments during the shooting day or at least before sunset if you’re shooting daytime. The schedule might say you’ll be done by 2pm but that is only the target time.

Do not drink too much before the shoot. Or, you’ll just be a pain in the neck for those who want to finish the shoot ahead of schedule.

photo credit: safetysuit



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