Music Business

Band Photos Guide: Our Top Tips On How To Take Good Band Pictures

Photograph of the blog post author, Dylan Easton

Dylan Easton

6.5.2021

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Steve Jobs once told John Mayer that, ‘greatness is communicated in everything that you do’. This applies perfectly to the world of music since all the little pieces in relation to your art are vital – including band pictures. Having good music is one thing, but without great band photos you will find it harder to thrive in the modern digital age. 

band photo behind the scenes

Having high quality, eye-catching photos are vital for effective album artwork, social media posts, media outlets and much more. In this article we’re going to go through our top band photography tips, how to shoot creative band photos and go through some band photo ideas you might want to consider for your own project. 

If you’re a musician looking for a chance to make the best band promo photos you can, stay tuned until the very end to make sure you don’t miss anything!

Why Do You Need Band Photos?

jimi hendrix experience band photo

Band pictures are promotional materials that are equally essential for emerging and established artists alike. They are crucial for developing your online presence and persona through social media platforms and Spotify profile.  

Having cool band pictures is a fantastic way to improve your Electronic Press Kit (EPK). An EPK is a traditional promo package in a digital form which lives on a band or band manager’s website. High quality band photos can really step up your game in the realm of promotions!

How To Take Good Band Photos

First things first, we recommend hiring a photographer. Remember to do your research and look for their photos online before hiring. You may be able to find a younger student photographer local just looking to get some experience and may do it for free. 

Without further ado, let’s kick off our top tips on how to take good band photos!

1. Know What Image You Want To Convey

tribe called quest band photo

Good band photos match the mood of the band’s music. Whilst appearing happy-go-lucky on a death-metal band shoot would be a funny idea, it doesn’t really capture the emotion of your chosen genre!

A couple of things you will want to consider are whether you want to use B&W or colour? A gritty or clean clean aesthetic? Creating a friendly or aggressive image? Intimate (looking at the camera) or aloof (looking away)?

These pointers are a great starting point in conveying the image you want for your band. Since it is impossible to capture your band’s artistry in a single image, it is important that you focus on the main points you wish to get across.

2. Take Inspiration

nirvana band photo

A great exercise for the band is to compile some other band pictures they like. This will allow you to break down the photos and distinguish what elements you wish to implement into your own.

If you’re hiring a photographer (which you should!) it will give them an idea of what vibe it is you want to capture.  

3. Location, Location, Location!

NWA band photo at the beach

Location is a key component in shooting your band pictures. The location should further reflect the image you want your band to convey. This can range from exotic outdoor backgrounds bathed in natural light or controlled studio environments with flat backdrops.

Be sure to scout some locations before your shoot and discuss whether this would work for the brand you’re selling. Don’t be afraid to ask for permission to shoot at a local museum, monument, park, etc. Just ensure you get permits if they are required!

4. “Clothes Maketh The Man”

Kiss band photo

When it comes to band photography, clothing is extremely important in conveying your personality since you can’t engage verbally with the viewer. Therefore, it is important to wear stuff you love and feel most natural in. Your clothes are part of the voice you use to tell your story. Know what it is you want to say with your outfit – you have to look the part! 

On the technical side of things, wearing patterns in a studio environment is difficult to work with. Neutral colours are generally what is recommended as they photograph well and they don’t distract too much from your face. Costumes can be a fun way of expressing your brand but consider that it could be very distracting.

Another key tip is make sure you iron your clothes! Ironing is everyone’s least favorite household chore but if you want to look professional, wrinkles are a great way to kill your image.

5. Time Schedule

The who band photo

If you are using a particular location for a limited amount of time or trying to capture the golden hour of sunshine, it is vital that you stick to a time schedule. Make sure the band and photographer meet before shooting time. This will allow you to make some last minute adjustments without eating into your shoot. 

Try not to make any big last minute changes as this could kill the flow of your shoot and cause chaos! You will have to find the happy medium of being flexible while still being strict in order to get all the band photo ideas you want. 

6. Take A Range Of Photos For Different Purposes

Beastie boys band photo

When preparing for your shoot, you’re going to want to consider what different style of photos to take to serve a certain purpose. This will include:

Each of these different mediums will dictate how you should go about shooting. For example, for social headers, a wider landscape shot would be more suitable if you want to fit all the members in. Here is a mini checklist of shots you should consider for your photoshoot as they will cover most bases: 

  • Photos that show your full body
  • Close-ups and ‘headshots’
  • The entire group
  • Individual photos of band members
  • With instruments and without
  • Color AND black and white
  • Landscape AND portrait options
  • An image where you are off to one side (for digital ads, banners, etc.)
  • An image that can be cropped without killing the overall composition
  • An image that looks great when reduced to a thumbnail

7. Consistency Is Key

John Mayall and the bluesbreakers beano album cover

Since these photos will appear across all social media platforms, streaming services, digital ads and more, stay consistent!

What we mean by this is the vibe you’re portraying across your various web properties, PR campaigns and cover art should be familiar in some shape or form.

This doesn’t necessarily mean using the same location and the same wardrobe. Put simply, your band best band promo photos should all add up to tell one larger story.

8. Lighting 

foo fighters band photo

Always trying to use natural light will make your photos better. Also, make sure you spend time getting to know your equipment and your way around it.

We recommend using the rule of thirds in your photos. This means when composing a photo, split the frame into thirds, and keep in mind that the eye is drawn to circles and triangles. 

Using photo editing software is a great tool in your arsenal. While it can be a daunting task and very confusing, it can also be lots of fun! Additionally, if you don’t manage to get the perfect lighting, you can manipulate your pictures until you do.

9. High Resolution

tedeschi trucks

Shooting high-resolution images will take up a lot of memory. Despite this minor inconvenience, all media outlets will want to use high-resolution images. If your band pictures aren’t a high enough resolution, they simply will not use them.

It could also be worth your time checking with media outlets beforehand to obtain their photo guidelines. It is vital you follow those guidelines down to a tee regarding resolution and file type. Once you have your band pictures avoid compressing the files – if the file is too big, the media outlet can shrink it.

10. Be Yourself

van halen band photo

In this instance, authenticity is everything. If you don’t believe in yourself or what you’re promoting, it’s going to feel fake. The audience always has a way of sniffing out what is genuine and what is phony so just be yourself.

Your music is a window to your soul and an expression of who you are. Carry the same energy into your photos. If you’ve made a hyper-energetic progressive rock album then you’re going to want to bring that energy to the shoot!

Now You Know How To Take Great Band Photos

allman brothers band photo

So, there we have our top 10 tips on how to take good band photos! We’ve gone through why creative band photos are important in expressing your personalities and your band image. Additionally, in the industry of music band photography is a key component in promoting yourselves.

We’ve gone through photography techniques, such as the rule of thirds, to help you get the best shot for your band. We have also considered the many different types of shots you will need for a wide array of platforms and purposes.

We hope you enjoyed the article and inspired you to get some quality pics with you and your band! Just remember to bear in mind our top tips and it should be plain sailing. Remember, the whole process of making music and putting it out there to the world is supposed to be fun. So enjoy it! 

Be sure to check out some of our other posts on the blog. We have tonnes of great, informative content. Why not have a thumb through our Music Photography Guide or our Checklist for Releasing Music!

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