Smile For The Camera! – 7 Tips On Getting More Out Of Your Photo Shoot

Photographer-Photo Shoot
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Finding a good photographer can be tough, but figuring out what you want your new promo photos to look like can be tougher. Hiring a photographer to come and do a photo shoot is a pricey thing when you hire a quality professional. I’ve already written about getting a professional photographer instead of relying on a friend so I won’t delve into that now (7 Ways to Improve Your Band/Artist Image). Instead I want to look at the photo shoot itself and some ways you can improve the end results.

Firstly Think Of All Photos As Potential Press Photos

Even though a photographer’s job is to produce the best possible results, they’re idea of “best” may not be perfectly aligned with yours. Whenever it is possible, get the photographer to show you all the “usable” photos. By usable, I mean photos without photographic errors in them. Bad lighting; someone was blinking; drummer has a stupid look on his face; etc…. Go through all the usable photos and look for the ones that stand out to you. Sometimes the best photo may be one where someone made a joke and the photographer caught you all laughing. Being serious is not a requirement for a good promo photo.

Go Digital And Use The Highest Resolution Possible

You’ve heard the saying “better safe than sorry,” and photos are a great place to follow that idea. Some photographers will still prefer film when possible, but nowadays everything is digital. Going digital is going to simplify things for you in the end. Since you can never be sure what resolution and quality level a manager, publication, or others will require, just make sure you get the highest resolution and DPI level possible (300dpi or better). The file size will be much larger but you can always scale down and lower quality. You can’t go the other way.

Show Your Confidence

When you’re worried about the end result, you can find it hard to exude confidence. Confidence though, is an important element of body language. Showing confidence in your posture and expressions automatically makes pictures better. You won’t find any promo pictures of Eddie Van Halen looking like he’s not confident. Take a moment to read these two articles before your next photo shoot.

Top 10: Ways To Show Confidence With Body Language
18 Ways to Improve Your Body Language

Think About Positioning And The Photo Composition

You don’t have to be in a straight line for your pictures. Try staggering the lineup or adjusting the shooting angle and direction. Experiment to see what provides the best view of everyone in the group with the most compact arrangement. You don’t want your pictures to look like a high school class photo or a police lineup (unless of course that is exactly what you want).

Ask For And Offer Feedback

Your photographer is there to do a job but that doesn’t mean he or she can’t offer their personal touch. Don’t be afraid to ask for their personal opinion about your ideas, and don’t be afraid to state your opinion about their ideas. If the photographer is using a digital camera, then ask to preview the pictures while taking them. This way you can come up with new ideas on the spot.

Use A Simple Backdrop

The main focal point of the picture is you. Don’t shift that focus away with the background. Keep it simple instead. There are a lot of bands that like the idea of rundown buildings for their backdrops. Sometimes this can work and other times it can make the photo shoot a living hell (especially for the photographer). Worst comes to worse, use a simple solid color backdrop. Just buy some solid color fabric from a local hobby store for it.

And Finally, Avoid The Cliché!

PLEASE! For the love of all things sacred and the adorable kittens, NO TRAIN TRACK PHOTOS! It’s been overdone so badly, that if it were a steak it would be nothing but ashes. If a band mate thinks train track photos are cool, give them a good slap upside the head to get them thinking straight again. I seriously regret not doing that myself the last time a band mate requested train track photos. Train track photos are a perfect example of being cliché. A cliché is an expression, idea, or element of an artistic work which has become overused to the point of losing its original meaning, or effect, and even, to the point of being trite or irritating, especially when at some earlier time it was considered meaningful or novel.

There are some photo ideas that are just bad right off the bat. Train track photos are just one example. When you think about that scene, you find no relation to your band or album unless there is a theme based around trains or being a hobo. The same thing applies to metal and goth bands using cemeteries as backdrops. We get it; you’re hardcore! So what does the cemetery have to do with that? The answer: nothing. If you can’t find a way to easily relate your chosen background to your band’s sound, history, or some aspect of your album, then you probably should just stick to a single color cloth backdrop. In the end it will work out better for you.

Just to further illustrate how bad a cliché is, here is a whole article dedicated to how stupid train track photos are: YouJustMadeMyList.com – Band photos on train tracks!

James Higgins (295 Posts)

Professional guitarist and instructor based in Alabama; performance, songwriting, and recording. Atlanta Institute of Music graduate. Part-time blogger.


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