How to take better band photos (in six easy steps)

Here are six steps to ensure your band photo tells your story and speaks to your persona. I’ll go into more detail here (with some real-life examples).

Along Other Callihana of Disc Makers Blog

What’s the first thing you notice when you look at an album cover? It’s probably an image, whether it’s an illustration or a photograph. Packaging images can make or break a design, and can be the difference between getting noticed or overlooked. Great design often starts with great photography. The image “moves” the design. If you plan to include photos of you or your band, those photos should look professional.

How do you take great band photos? One obvious answer is to hire a professional photographer, preferably someone who has experience working with musicians. However, it may not fit your budget. Frankly, being an indie can sometimes mean taking pictures for yourself, so here are some tips to help you plan for success.

1. Preparation

Write down your thoughts or make a rough sketch and think it through before the photo shoot. Plan out possible locations, what to wear, what mood you want the photo to have (dark, gloomy, happy, spiritual, etc.), and what “message” you want to convey to the viewer. increase. first time.

Then you need to:

  • Set a date and time for the photo shoot and invite everyone who needs to be there. If shooting outdoors, set a rainy day.
  • Discuss in advance what you and your band members will wear.
  • When choosing a public location, ask for permission to take photos from the owner. For example, if you want to take a photo in the lounge of a fancy restaurant, call ahead and speak with the manager to confirm the date and time of the shoot.
  • Make a list of what you need for your photo shoot. This includes props, composition sketches, clothing changes, cameras, extra batteries, and more.

2. Resolution

All digital images are made up of pixels, which are small colored digital squares. The more pixels an image has, the sharper and better it looks, and the less you notice the actual pixels.

Just because an image looks good on your computer monitor doesn’t mean it will look good when printed professionally. Your monitor equates to 72 ppi (pixels per inch) and most professionals print at 300 ppi. If you use low resolution images (less than 300 ppi) on your printed package, the images will appear blurry or pixelated.

(Top left is high resolution, bottom is low resolution.)

For professional results, images should be printed at 300 ppi. So if you want to use an image on your CD cover, it should be at least 5 inches square, or 1500 by 1500 pixels. Use the lowest image compression setting, or use no compression on your camera. Basically, you want the largest image and file size your camera can store. We also recommend using a digital camera rather than a cell phone camera if you want professional photos.

3. Lighting

Lighting is a component of great band photography

Proper lighting is essential for taking professional photos. Creative use of lighting can make an image more dramatic, express a certain mood, and make an image more impressive. Poor lighting can obscure facial features, create strange and distracting shadows, and make it hard to tell what’s going on in the image.

Lighting can be adjusted using image editing software, but there’s only so much you can do without distorting the image. If the image is too dark and the computer tries to lighten it significantly, the photo will appear grainy. If the image is too bright and features are “blown out” or gone, those features cannot be brought back.

In the Springsteen and Twilight example on the right, the lighting draws attention to the featured artist’s face and sets the mood.

When shooting outdoors, pay attention to the weather forecast. This may seem obvious, but if you want a sunny day, shoot on a sunny day (or for best results, shoot on a slightly overcast day). recommended). Be careful where shadows fall. They can add or remove your photos.

If you’re shooting indoors, make sure there’s enough lighting so you don’t have to use flash. If you must use flash, read your camera’s manual on how to get the most out of it. The built-in camera flash often makes the foreground too bright and the background too dark. If you have a removable flash, use that instead. If your camera has a red-eye reduction setting, use it.

4. Composition

Composition is one of the elements of a great band photo

Composition is concerned with the placement and spacing of people and things. How the people in the photo relate to each other, their surroundings, the background. You may have heard the term “negative space,” which is the space around people and things. When composing each photo, you should consider its space.

For example, if you have two lead members in your band and other players who are more secondary, you can place the two leads close to each other in the foreground and the other band members slightly behind. increase.

The cover of U2 on the right shows a keen eye for composition, both in relation to the characters and to the background. Amy Grant’s cover uses props effectively to create a dynamic composition.

Try sketching some compositions. Where you need people, where you need background elements, etc. It doesn’t matter if you can’t draw a straight line. I need a quick sketch showing what is where. That way you have something to refer to while shooting.

Props can also be part of your composition, such as the chair you’re sitting on or the hat you’re holding. If props help convey your message, they’re worth it. Be aware that too many props can be confusing and distracting.

Don’t overcomplicate your photos. Simple configurations are usually the most effective. Many famous photographers are known to draw the viewer’s eye to the important parts of the picture by minimizing the distraction of other elements.

5. Background/Location

Backgrounds and locations are one element of a great band photo

Choose a suitable location for your photo shoot. If you want your backdrop to be a tropical beach, but you don’t live near a beach, consider a road trip. It is possible to change the background of a photo with computer “magic”, but the final result may not look completely realistic due to lighting and perspective.So shoot on location whenever possible. .

It’s clear that the Kiss and BB King photos on the right were taken on location.

Notice what is happening behind you in your photo. If you’re shooting on a busy street, you may not want a shirtless man standing in the back of your photo.

Unless you’re looking for a very specific look, it’s often best to avoid stereotypical or clichéd locations and props. Avoid types of backgrounds (brick walls and railroad tracks).

6. Clothing

Clothing is one of the elements of a great band photo

Jeans and a T-shirt, a tuxedo, a cowboy hat, whatever you wear affects the mood of the image and hints at the kind of music you play.

While there may be reasons to do it (for example, recommended), clothing with manufacturing or other logos or brand names can be distracting and draw attention away from you and your band members.

Janis Joplin’s clothes reflected her personality.The Pretenders’ formal wardrobe sets the mood and sheds new light on the band.

Does this all seem like a lot of work? That’s why we have professional photographers to help you get great band photos. However, if a pro isn’t in your budget, I hope these tips steer you in the right direction.

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