A good band photo can make the difference between getting your band featured in a magazine or not. Here are some tips and things to consider when getting your band photographed, plus plenty of advice for the budding band photographer in you.
Remember - Band Photos are PRESS Photos:
Remember why you're getting photos done – to get the band exposure in the press and other media and to present a visual image of the band. While this may seem obvious, it's a good thing to keep in mind when preparing the shoot and taking the photos – are the photos likely to be published and is the image of the band the one that you want to be presenting to the public?
Band Photo Composition:
Think carefully about the composition of the photo. Photographing more than one or two people can be hard. You don't want the pictures to end up looking like someone's wedding photos, a class photo or police mugshots (unless of course that's the image you're going for). Before you take the pictures, think about where everyone is going to be positioned in the photo. When it comes to the shoot, take as many different shots as you can – you can never have too many shots to choose from and film is cheap.
In many ways taking live photos can seem like an easy options – for a start, all the band are likely to be in the same place at the same time. However there are a few pitfalls.Unless it's accompanying a live review, most magazines and newspaper won't want to use a live photo. While the whole band will be on stage at the same time, it may be hard to get a good shot of all of them, and with fast movement and low lighting levels, it's one of the hardest environments to take good pics in. A good live shot can be a useful addition to a press pack, but it isn't a replacement for a good band photo.
Digital vs Film:
Digital photos can provide you a quicker result than film and you avoid the cost of processing. However many photographers still prefer film:
- You don't have to worry about the resolution with film, the negative can be scanned in and blown up to any size, within reason.
- Film can provide a more permanent record than a digital file.
- In the same way that some musicians prefer the "feel" of analog to digital recording, some photographers prefer the feel of film to digital.
- "Mistakes" that you might delete from your digital camera can end up being the best photos when they've been developed.
Don't Take 'Em Yourself:
If you are a photographer and in the band, avoid taking the photos yourself if possible. While most cameras have a 'self portrait' facility, it's not a good idea to use it! It could beneficial to work with another photographer - someone to bounce ideas off of. If you're looking for someone to take pictures, the world is full of budding photographers - put an ad in a local camera shop or art college. Many new photographers will be happy to work for free to gain experience, but it's a good idea to offer to cover their expenses and ensure that they are credited when the photos are published.
These day, most publications will want an electronic version of a photo. If this image isn't high enough resolution they will not print it, so make sure you know what resolution they need the picture to be. (Usually at a minimum it'll have to be 7” x 4” at 300dpi.) If you're using a digital camera make sure it's set to the highest quality possible. If you're using film make sure the picture, or negatives, are scanned in at the highest resolution possible. Avoid compressing the file – if the file is too big it can be shrunk, but if it's too small you can't make it bigger.
Get Advice from the Pros:
Photographers are the best source of advice for putting together a stand-out band photo. The tips below come courtesy of band photographer Vi Bibi:
Always try and use natural light.
Spend time getting to know your equipment.
When composing a photo split the frame into thirds, and remember that the eye is drawn to circles and triangles. Ultimately if you're going to be any good you have to learn to go with your gut.
Use film and learn to develop your own prints – it's a dying trade. Anyone can use a digital camera! That said don't be scared to use photo editing software. It can be lots of fun, and if you don't get the perfect image you can manipulate your pictures until you do.
If you have any hour to photograph a band spend the first 45 minutes in the pub and shoot for the last 15. Get to know the band, their dynamic and personalities. If you, and the band, are relaxed you'll get better pictures.