Download Music Software | Guitars - Guitar News Weekly | MP3 Software | Find Musicians
Musician Tutorials
Band photography tips
on Tuesday 20 June 2006
by Bella Tu author list print the content item {PDF=create pdf file of the content item^plugin:content.34}
in Promotion & Selling
comments: 0
hits: 4694
not rated -

by Bella Tu

It doesn't take a lot of effort to get a decent promotional shot of your band.

I've seen some absolute shockers when it comes to band photos online. They usually appear as if they have been taken either by the girlfriend of a band member or a passer-by. Web cam shots are another disaster. The quality of promotional photos should be important to the serious online musician, even if it's not a professional look you're after. And it's not just the composition of the actual photograph that needs to be considered with several options when it comes to image format, size and resolution, which differ incredibly between print and online specifications. You should also keep in mind what you could be using the photograph(s) for, be it within your online biography, CD cover art or magazine promo.

Composition and Subject:
Anyone with two eyes (one even) can tell what makes you look good and what makes you look bad in a photograph. The most interesting shots are those where you can see some action, whether in performance or practice. Posing often looks pathetic especially when it's attempted in all seriousness, but if you or your band is about having fun then you can make this work with some interesting stances and facial expressions. The well-used recipe for band photos is members positioned in the photograph as they would be on stage, i.e. lead singer in front of bassist, drummer etc. And remember you don't always have to stare into the camera lens. A location outside of your garage or back room studio can also add a little spice and you could try to pick somewhere that relates to either you or your music style. For individual member photos your best results are likely to come from giving your amateur photographer buddy (we all have one) access to some practice/jam sessions to snap you unawares and, hopefully, appearing natural. Also, be aware of what you're wearing in the way of clothing - go ahead and wear your favorite band t-shirt but remember the 'image' you're trying to portray, avoid having anything smoking in your hand. You should be able to get some great ideas from band photos in musician mags and local rags. The Strokes' band shots are outstanding. They look like a gang out for a good time. There is always action in their shots. Someone is up to something.

If taking the photographs yourself, a good quality camera and film will make all the difference. Use common sense to select the appropriate film for lighting - color or black and white. SLR cameras are sure to create better results than a disposable or compact with the option of different lenses for focal settings, angle and the use of filters.

When shooting either indoors or outdoor, natural and artificial lighting is a most important element to consider. Fixed and flash lighting are your main options. The biggest problem here is too few sources of light or dull supply. I really like the use of alternative flashes in close-up photography to get that interesting highlight in the eyes, eg. a circular flash mounted around the lens. Lighting can also create some of the most interesting (some accidental) effects in a photograph and it is worth playing around with shadows and highlights.

Props like a backdrop are also worth trying out, or what about a mechanical bull?

Image Format:
Once you've got material on film, it's off to the mini-lab or developing lab. Again, depending on what the images are to be used for they can be stored in a variety of forms such as negative film, slides, prints or digital image. The easiest way to get your photos into the computer is via the scanner. A good rule of thumb is to initially save all scans at a minimum resolution of 300 ppi/dpi in TIFF format to be opened later in photo editing software such as Photoshop of Paint Shop. The image can then be reduced to 72 ppi resolution and GIF or JPG format for online publishing or supplied in its high quality format to magazines/printers. When converting your image to GIF, JPG or PNG experiment with settings to get the highest quality with smallest file size. I tend to prefer GIF format due to the smoother aliasing as opposed to JPGs boxy look, but compress ANY image too far and it will look awful. If you are lucky enough to have Photoshop or similar graphics editing software, don't go overboard with use of built-in filters and special effects - tacky.

Remember that your color image could be printed in grayscale (no color) and this is where contrast is important with two dark colors like green and navy contrast well in color but not so well in grayscale. A good idea is to have a supply of both black and white and color images at hand.

On your band web site use smaller images that load fast but also supply a ZIP or SIT media kit file containing high-quality, possibly print quality images for media, publishers or anyone interested.

Professional Job:
Of, course there are people who do this for a living! If you just can't get it together yourself or you'd like something more pro-looking, then use a pro. Always make sure to look at their portfolios before you make a choice about who to go with.

Check out:

You must be logged in to make comments on this site - please log in, or if you are not registered click here to signup