On your press kit, social media site or website, your photos
will be the first thing that a promoter, media, fans, etc.
Your press photos help define who you are as an artist. Poor
quality, generic, or uninteresting photos generally get the
same type of preconceptions with the music (quality, marketability,
etc.) Local media love featuring artists, but won’t
include photographs unless they are captivating or interested.
It would be nice to say that it’s all about the music
but the first impression drawn is almost always from the photos
(they come up on any website and I end up staring at the photos
until the music starts up). Like anything else you do with
your career, you want something that stands out. You want
it to reflect yourself and your band. You want good quality.
So why are so many artists settling for less?
Rather than hiring someone of quality and talent, many just
rely on their friend’s point and shoot. There’s
a mentality out there that anyone with a decent camera can
get you pretty good press shots. Why do people settle for
less on such an important part of the press kit? Why are people
willing to pay for high-priced, overproduced music studios
but not on the photos? I believe it’s for one of two
reasons: musicians think they can’t afford professional
photography or they just don’t know better. Let’s
deal with the two and talk about how you can get the most
for your money.
Are Good Photos Expensive?
Think about it like this. If your poor quality photos are
costing you gigs and opportunities, you’d probably be
better off spending that few hundred dollars and hiring someone
who can get you a better first impression. The cost of having
a poor business plan or cheap demo is always more expensive
than the investment of time, money, and finances to make sure
that you have the best possible image. Most musicians understand
this when it comes to their own art (such as buying better
quality gear even though most in the crowd can’t tell
a huge difference) but few invest in other arts (such as in
photos where many people can tell a difference right away).
How many bands are sick of making only a few bucks after
a long night of hard work (loading in gear, playing, selling
for a few hours, driving, etc.)? Yet why are they satisfied
with paying another artist hardly anything for their time?
A photographer has to scout locations, position, shoot, edit
(which takes A LOT of time), process, etc.
How to Find a Good Band Photographer:
Find someone who specializes in working
with artists. You want someone with an “eye” that
understands how to make artists look good and stand out. They
should have a large portfolio of other artists they’ve
shot. Those photos should look good.
Someone who will scout for a good location, understand and
know how to work with lighting limitations and capable of
producing something that is unique and stands out.
Hire someone who understands your image, something appropriate
to your genre of music and target audience.
Check out artists you admire or friends who have good press
photos and find out who they are working with.
Look in your local publications. Even live shots of national
acts are usually shot by a local photographer. Check out the
photo credits and look them up.
Have an agreed timeline for payment, delivery,
and follow up.
How to Make Money with Your Photos:
can sell 8×10 press photos that you are already using
for your press kit.
Print posters. Go through a local printing company and see
if they’ll sponsor you even. They might just do so because
your new press kit looks so snazzy.
In addition to your press kit/website/social
media site, you can use the pictures for other merchandise
like t-shirts, stickers, or album artwork to get more gigs
or sell more merchandise.
Even though you are hiring the photographer, they still own
100% of the rights to those photos (just like a local promoter
who hires you to perform doesn’t own your music) so
be sure that you have a clear agreement with them on what
you have permission to use the photos for. Also, anytime the
pictures are used in press, be sure that they get appropriate
photo credit and send them a copy. It’s the right thing
When you submit your press kit asking for
a review, your band will be taken more seriously if accompanied
by professional photography. This should include both; live
action shots as well as press kit photos.