How Do I Take Band Promotional Photos? - Digital Photography School

How Do I Take Band Promotional Photos?

How To Take A Band Promotional ShotIt has been a while since we had a DPS community workshop – so today when I got the following question via email from Brett (a reader of DPS) I thought I’d post it here as a question for everyone to answer. If you have any tips for Band Promotion Photos leave your comments below. Here’s Brett’s question:

“My brother is in a band who are starting to get a little media attention and they are constantly being asked for photos by smaller music magazines and newspapers. As I’m the only guy with a DSLR that my brother knows (combined with the fact that they have no money to hire anyone) they want me to take some promotional shots for them.

I was wondering if you or your readers might have any suggestions on how to go about getting some good band promo shots? Any tips on types of locations, posing etc would be greatly appreciated.”

Looking forward to hearing your suggestions for Brett!

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Darren Rowse is the editor and founder of Digital Photography School and SnapnDeals. He lives in Melbourne Australia and is also the editor of the ProBlogger Blog Tips. Follow him on Instagram, on Twitter at @digitalPS or on Google+.

  • http://tneilen.tumblr.com Timothy Neilen

    Just a quick suggestion for locations, choose something that really suits the band. I’ve seen a lot of great promo photos for rock bands taken in sheds lit only by fluro lights, and electro band photos taken out in the streets with neon store lights.

  • SinnedCbu

    I would say it depends on what type of music the band plays, I guess from that you can basically sort out what kind of environment and mood you would want your pictures to be. Like for example if they are a heavy metal band. a bar stage would be a good place to shoot or a scrap yard would be nice also. Just my two cents…

  • JDoherty

    Shoot a lot. Keep shooting until they are annoyed with you, then shoot some more. If this is their first band photo then you are in discovery mode. Move them around, play with the relationships among them within the frame, don’t assume that the frontman is in front, go for mood lighting over portrait lighting. If you can find photos from better-known bands that they sound like, pick some of the best and imitate them.

  • http://www.craigmacproductions.com Craig

    Go to a couple of their rehearsals and take some photos of them playing both individually and as the whole group.

    Go buy some music magazines for some inspiration!

    Try using really wide apertures and mood lighting. Also backing up SinnedCbu about the environment that you’ll want the band in.

    The thing with bands is that you have to have an image, and be clear on what that image is so that you can stick to it religiously. Eg: you don’t see punk bands wearing year 1800 clothes and standing in an barn. You would see them wearing ripped clothes and standing in a skate park!

  • http://www.redeggproductions.com Michael R

    I would say, tell them to use their imagination and don’t be afraid of being too weird… Just like the names of bands today, their art is always weird, but cool.

  • Jaiwanjin

    Like the commenter above me, it really depends on what genre of rock the band plays, but I’d recommend your local college campus. It’s a safe area for shooting, and on the weekends there’s usually not many people around, meaning the band can bring and even set up instruments for posing purposes without getting in peoples’ way or vice versa. Usually a venue as large as a college campus will give you tons of backgrounds and different styles of construction for all the different areas of the school. Most will also have a park or some grassy area if you decide to go for a natural style as opposed to urban.

    If you aren’t near any colleges you can get creative with parks and streets/alleys, etc but that’s definitely my first recommendation.

    As for the photography itself, please please please shoot in the shade. I’m going to assume you don’t have off camera strobes and a lot of other fancy equipment, so my best advice is to shoot in the shade. You’ll get much better contrast and nice color, and that’s definitely something you want for print/advertisement. It seems really obvious but a lot of people end up shooting in direct sunlight and get lots of harsh shadows and blown highlights. Of course it’s not an absolute rule to shoot in the shade, but in this situation I’d recommend it.

    Buy a reflector online or at your local camera store, you should be able to get one at a reasonable price, and it will help immensely with your lighting. Especially since you’ll be shooting a band, you can have the people not in the shots help you with holding the reflector, which can be a pain to try to do solo. (Save for the group shots of course)

    For inspiration I suggest you look at myspaces and webpages of other bands that are popular but still in the underground scene, as they usually will also have a photographer on a budget, and you can see what some really talented amateurs, or aspiring pro photographers who haven’t hit it big yet shoot.

    Most of all don’t worry or get nervous about the shoot, it’s probably the most low stress assignment you can get. It’s a great opportunity to learn, so be sure to experiment and shoot shoot shoot.

    Besides, they can’t argue about how much they’re paying you. ;)

  • Keito

    I have shot several band promo’s for local bands – nothing to big I might add – and have done the occasional ‘bigger’ gig.

    I usually just make sure I know what kind of music they make and what type of people they are and what their fans would expect.

    For instance, I once shot a ska-band and the bandmembers were all about fun, both on a off stage, so I had them just run around like crazy and “play” with each other while I just took a lot of pics. They were genuinely “fun” pics and imho captured them really good.

    I also once shot a progressive rock/metal band, and basically I made them look quite tough by making them pose ‘powerfully’ in front of an old castle ruin – kind of reflecting their music a bit.

    My best advice is probably not really advice at all, but try checking out bands in the same genre and see if there’s any sort of ‘general’ theme. For instance, metal bands always pose really mean and tough, crossed arms, industrial/dark backgrounds etc. You can then decide to either go with that with your own spin of course, or just go completely opposite of ‘the norm’ – which could also reflect the bands personality.

    Also, I usually take pics of bands playing as well, which has given me a lot of nice photo’s as well, from very emotional ones to fun ones with bandmembers interacting on stage. My personal opinion is these photo’s are way cooler to look at and give a better view of the band.

    Hope this was of any help Brett ^_^

  • http://musicin2d.com Clif

    Avoid brick walls and train tracks. :)

    I agree with SinnedCbu, in that you really want to match the mood of the photos to the band’s music and overall brand. One of the best things you can do is spend some time with the band flipping through music magazines, examining the band photos. They are likely to find shots they like intuitively, based on their own tastes, which can becoming a basis for their own photos.

  • Steve

    I agree with SinnedCbu that it depends on the style of music. My favorite band photos have been on-stage shots taken at very low angles with a very shallow depth of field and candid shots of band members just hanging around. I don’t usually like posed shots. The low angle is good for guitarists looking down at the guitar neck so you can get their faces. It’s hard to get a good on-stage shot of an entire band, espcially a drummer behind a large kit. On a couple of occassions I’ve been able to get good shots up on the light grid or a balcony.

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/yorkshirecoast OlPeculier

    @SkinnedChu

    Actually, I wouldn’t do that as I personally feel it’s one of the oldest cliché’s in the book

    A band over here persuaded the owner of our local cinema to put their name up on the front display. Bit corny but it worked, the band are doing very well in the UK charts (On Night Only for those that care)

    Try for somehing different, I tried to get a duo up in a 6 seat plane and have them piloting it but they weren’t up to it

    Best though, and I’ve dome tbis a lot, if they have good lights just shoot a live gig. One shot I liked doing was to try and find a position directly over the drummer (once this was just the case of standing on a stool), hold the camera face down in front of you, and with a wide angle just click and hope

    Just by 2pence…

  • http://cruttenden.blogspot.com/ Spingere

    Just try to avoid everyone standing wistfully next to trees. Yawn.

  • AlexTheodin

    I always like band photos that show the members in a “snapshot” kind of way having fun. You can always try the obvious one (while rehearsing) it might be cliché but it works.
    Some other ideas would be to shoot them like they are on the road. Outside of a car or van, inside it all packed with guitars out the windows, sitting and having fun on the bus etc

    Or try them using their instruments for something out of their normal function. Like use the drums as a plate to serve food and guitars as swords and one using the mic as a shaving machine or smth…

  • Fern R

    I tend to agree with OlPeculier that stages and scrap yards (and other grimy locations) are cliche for band promo shots. Though I do agree that the style of the band’s music and the personality of the band should be taken into consideration when choosing a location.

    I’ve been put in the same situation as Brett (“Hey, you have a camera, can you take some photos of us?”) and if I could do it all over again, I think I would experiment more with unusual angles and perspectives and less on finding a “cool” location. For example, looking down on the band while they lie on the ground (I found this on Flickr and it is sort of what I was thinking, but I think it would have been more interesting if the band had their instruments). Or another idea would be to view the band through something…like if they were standing in the middle of the street at night and were illuminated by an oncoming car’s front headlights and the photo was taken from the perspective of the driver with parts of the car’s windshield in the frame.

    I dunno, those are a few ideas. It’s kind of hard thinking of ideas when I know so little about the band…not that I’d have great ideas if I knew more… :-P

  • http://www.klaidas.lt/ Klaidas

    The first thing I though when I read the headline on RSS: backlight + smoke. I imagine the band playing on a scene, with the smoke backlit, the camera pointing a bit upwards from the ground with a wide angle lens.

    –Klaidas
    http://www.klaidas.lt

  • http://www.ubiquitouslens.com Katie

    Another thought would be to pull a concept out of the lyrics of one of their original songs and try to reproduce it either wholly or in part as a photograph incorporating the band.

  • meat

    An idea I heard was to have the band draw man-sized monsters with chalk on concrete then lie down next to them, with the photographer standing on a tall ladder looking almost straight down on them.

  • http://aleepotw.blogspot.com Aaron

    I took some shots for a friend’s band a while back. We walked through an urban area, and got some good shots.

    1] Up against a garage door that you would only see “downtown”, I took one picture and then cut each guy into a “frame.” Each guy carried his own personality — the drummer was smiling, almost laughing. The other two guys were more serious.

    2] My favorite shot was on top of a parking deck as the sun was going down. We got some great backlighting in the sky, plus the parking lot lights had come on for an unique white balance. There was a cool directional arrow painted on the wall, the guys took a more serious demeanor and I crouched down low.

  • Art

    Here are some band photographers you might want to take a look at:

    http://brook-pifer.com/
    http://www.portraits.brendanoshea.com.au/
    http://www.davehillphoto.com/

  • W. Kim Heron

    Lots of good points here. One other consideration: Think how the pictures will look on a page. The Abbey Road shot this thread began with is a good example. A newspaper editor seeing that shot for an unknown band might very well pass on it because it doesn’t show much of the band (proportionately) and requires a good bit of space to work at all.

    You might also think of making headshots of individual members of the band. This can seem bad if the band has a strong one-for-all, all-for-one mentality — or if some members are already insecure about who’s getting the interview attention. But if John Smith is the member quoted, a paper may use a headshot of the John in some tight layouts where even a close-in full band shot won’t work.

    The more options you provide, the better the chances that a pic of the band will see print. Oh, yeah,make sure the caption identifications are readily available.

  • http://pcspphotochick.blogspot.com/ Photochick (Amanda)

    I’ve only done a couple of shoots for a band I used to be friends with. Our first set of shooting came just after one of their shows… found out that tired, sweaty band-members don’t usually take the best pictures…

    Next try came BEFORE one of their shows – got some really awesome shots from that. Some on stage with some extra colored lighting, pretending to play (minus the crowds, smoke, and bad lighting of when they played their show) More pictures came from the stairway in the building, with a couple sitting and a couple standing… And then just a few more in the alleyway behind the building. Some pics they were all looking down, some shots they were turned around looking backward, some they were all turned around w/instruments behind their backs (guitars, tambourine, and even a mic)

    Our best pics came from pics of them in a hot tub – just a really fun shoot with toy in there with them. I stood above them on a ladder and got some amazing pictures… Started shooting around 5:00pm in late fall, so had some in sunset light and some after the sun set, and the steam really started showing up in the pictures… those were the best!

    All those were from more than 3 years ago, and unfortunately, I lost every one of those pictures and thousands more because my computer crashed… I cannot say this enough, but make sure ya’ll back up your work!! Best of luck to everyone, much love and God Bless!

  • http://www.cybasumo.com Cybasumo

    i think he forgot to metion on what type of music did they band played!? cause that is one key point for making a good cover photo, he should have put it there.

  • Joshua Schneiderman

    I’ve never shot a band, but have been in plenty and am also in marketing. I’ve found that the best band photos for me were when the photographer and band spent a while together just hanging out. Take a lot of shots, try anything. You should only end up using a couple at any given time anyway to provide a consistent image of the band… so if you take 100 and only 5 are truly spectacular, the other 95 can just be between you and the band.

    I’ve always been pretty embarrassed of posed shots. One of my bands (an indie trio) had photos taken for the local newspaper. The photo that published had the singer/guitarist sitting on a circular ottoman in the lotus position with the bassist and myself on either side. I’m still feel a little sick whenever that photo surfaces. It’s so ridiculous….. so, don’t do that. Okay?

  • http://www.23photos.com Dizzle

    I actually try to pull them OUT of their element. Instead of matching the scene to their music, try for the exact opposite and see what it gets you.

    Take a heavey metal band and drop them in some suits at a church. Take that soft poppy band and drop them at the scrap yard…think outside the box because just about everything has been done inside it :)

  • Bilka

    Avoid cliché. There is too much of it in today’s musical artists shots – Be original – Set your own trend.

    Bilka

  • http://www.thisisaccidental.com keaton

    Basically… DO SOMETHING DIFFERENT

    A lot of people have suggested this, and it’s the thing to do.

    I’ve been doing the band thing for nearly two years now in ohio, have had the chance to work with a certain ohio music mag a few times… And different is always good.

    Someone suggested shooting in the shade if you don’t have lighing, and I strongly disagree. Its hard, but you will get more interesting photos if you shoot in the sun, it’s tough to do and not get too contrasty, though. Check my work out, a lot of the older photos on my site were lit naturally before I got my hands on borrowed alien bees.

    Pose them, but try a little action… An action pose. Have them act something out or exaggerate something.

    Someone mentioned dave hill, he is a phenomenal band photog. Use his work as a baseline for ideas, posing, etc. Just remember that he shoots with a lottttt of lights, composites some of his shots and has a lot of solid editing behind his work ;)

    Depending on the band’s style, I’d recommend picking up an alternative press mag or two and looking through the photographs. Most of the photos in that mag are original, by talented young people, and can help you get ideas no matter the bands’ style.

    Just avoid the cliche, please :)

  • http://www.greenmantle.biz Mark Greenmantle

    Amanda suggested getting shots of the band just before they go onstage but… just make sure that EVERYONE involved in their being there has given the ok. Tour managers, venue owners, the band members partners along for the ride can ALL become major headaches for you in this situation. Also be sure that you know your location before you try to set it up.

    Last time I was given 15min with a performer before a gig, he’d just realised how crap the rider was, he was penned into the dressing rooms with nowhere to go to get away from the mass of fans outside and his manager was ranting about lighting. So he wasn’t his usual affable self and the shoot not as comfortable as I’d hoped. No one bothered to introduce me to his new drummer, but thankfully my gig captures of him made up for the fact.

    Find out if the performers have pet peeves with their appearance so that you ensure you avoid specific shots they dislike of themselves. I’ve gone to the trouble of shooting a gig from 20metres out with a 300mmF2.8 just to avoid getting double chin shots. The result – very happy client.

    Other things to consider:
    licensing. just how much usage will you hand over for these shots – and be sure also to get a release to show the shots off on your own site before posting them.

    comments about going through the music mags with the clients to see if they have a liking for certain styles are very much worth trying if at all possible.

    If you’ve only known the band via myspace or similar, get in as much info both ways about the shoot before even meeting them so that when you do meet them, you’ll be more comfortable and confidant. A shooter without confidence makes for uncomfortable clients and usually a crappy shoot.

    Having had clients step off a plane from Florida – straight to my studio here in Brisbane Queensland, the day before a gig, I can tell you, you want to know as much about them from all aspects as you can find out. Not just what they offer up, but get your nose into the music press and see what’s being said about them to avoid talking about things they hate, or even subjects they feel strongly about in a negative way. If you want a light fluffy shoot, you don’t want a grumpy forceful muso. Similarly, if you want a really in your face shoot, engage them in what riles them up.

    For example, to get Gen Vincent of the shock rock band Genitorturers to show aggression in the studio we spoke about guns and gun laws. She wielded the weapon (replica) I supplied very aggressively through that chat. We used red lighting with blue and white highlights and a smoke machine for effect.

    Invest in props. Some of my fav shoots involved shots planned as regular studio gigs turned wild by clients seeing the props box and going nuts with scary toys. (thankfully few of them knew how to string or draw on the longbow)

    Finally – enjoy yourself. The more fun you take from the shoot, the more likely others will “get into it”.

  • http://www.dopeytree.com Ed Stone

    take a peak at my band promo stuff see what you think

  • http://www.furiousphotographers.com Furious Photographers

    Ah the Beatles! I think a good way is to just use a lot of single point lighting and dramatic shadows. I use this all of the time for my wedding photographs.

  • ditch_azeroth

    the abbey road cover is simply a classic. on today’s standards, vibrance, among other things, can make it even better – but i like it the way it is. total classic.

    these days though, i find having multiple strobes and long exposures (with a wee bit of light painting) does wonders.

  • Erica

    That sounds like a fun assignment. Here are some questions to answer to help you find the answer to your question:

    1) Who are their audience made up of?
    2) What is their focus or mission as a band?
    3) Who do they admire?
    4) What do they aspire to?
    5) Do they have any hit songs that lend imagery to a photo shoot?
    6) Would the band look better photographed during daylight or at night?
    7) Is there a lead instrumentalist or all musicians equal?

    Have fun and post your pics so we can see!

  • http://www.gregoryhughdavidson.com Gregory

    Dont let the band dictate the shoot, because the bands idea of “cool” does not reflect the photography community.

    Cliche shoots are on railroads, in front of a brick wall or with instruments (instrument shots could be cool… i saw a band get some good album artwork with shooting with their instruments… of course it was all underwater, very creative).

    Its ok to have promo shots of the band close together… a promo shot is about the band and not the surrounding area. Of course artistic shots of surrounding area is ok for artwork… but for press, a good head shot is nice to have (or from waste up).

    Go in with a plan and work on composition, be unique and have fun.

  • Bill Bensen

    This is the shot my band used. Being a photographer and a band member; I knew what we were looking for in the shot.

    http://surfthisphotography.com/images/bcr/bcrjsmyspace.jpg

    Bill

  • Eric

    Biggest cliches to avoid – and I’ve unfortunately done both in my day:

    1) band in front of a brick wall.
    2) band on train tracks.

    rockandrollconfidential.com has a “hall of douchebags” that pretty much defines what *not* to do. It’s also hilarious although I live in perpetual fear that I’ll find my band up there someday.

  • Art

    Here are some very different takes on the usual run of the mill band shots:
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/brendanoshea

  • Randy

    all these ideas are great for websites..

    when youre asked for a promo pic for magazines and newspapers always have several band pics taken in B&W with a totally white background.. That is the professional standard for Band promo pics for the press. Once you have top quality pics like that you can add in any background you ever wanted, if you want to…
    When you get that pic in the mag/paper they want it to clearly show the band members, no distractions… you want the band to be the center of attention, not the lightpost or the car or the old building, brick wall or the countryside in the background….
    B&W with a white background.. the industry standard…
    you can take the pic in color and convert it to B&W but when u send it, especially to a newspaper always send B&W…

  • Randy

    By the way the Abbey Rd pic of the Beatles on this page is the perfect example of a bad publicity shot for a band to send to a magazine or newspaper… look at the pic honestly and you will see the main focus of your eyes will be looking down the road about 50 yards towards the two cars in the distance…..the beatles look like 4 guys youd never recognise, crossing the road while your pulled up waiting. Youre eyes will be looking past them, down the road towards the horizon…..Its a fine album cover, etc but for a small newspaper article you want it to be more of a closeup of the band….which will also make a great pic for show posters..

  • Lauren

    My husband’s in a band with the same problem. They all know that within a few days of the gig, they get a cd of my good shots for them to use. While I’m no professional, I do have a few good hints:

    Get to know the band members, especially the behaviorisms of each one on stage, often times, the best pictures are the one of them doing their “signature move” while preforming.

    Test your white balance/shutter speed while they’re setting up/tuning. So you have your practice shots out of the way BEFORE the music starts.

    The best photos are often unposed (or appear to be unposed). If they’re looking for the “album cover shot” then pose them, but don’t make it look like it’s everybody standing in front of a white wall, that’s boring and it’s been done.

    If there is a way to adjust your focal point (which there should be on a higher-end DSLR) then focus on the PEOPLE. I know it sounds dumb, but I have many of great shots that were ruined because the camera focused on the microphone in front of their face instead of their face.

    If you have a top-mounted flash, don’t point it directly at them, you want the shot to look as natural as possible, not a washed out face (that and flashes going off when you’re preforming isn’t the best experience). Make it about a 45 degree angle and see what happens. One of my husband’s shows was in a white tent so I used the tent’s roof as a reflector and pointed the top-mounted flash straight above and it worked beautifully.

    If you’re shooting with digital, just click away and edit them later, the beauty of digital is that you’re not wasting money if they don’t come out. Shoot in RAW if you can so white balance can easily be adjusted later. Don’t be afraid to edit them, sometimes the shot is great but there’s half a drum head in the background, edit it out if you can, nobody will know but you (and you’re not telling, right?)

    I can do about 250 pictures during an hour long set and about 20-30 of those come out well enough for publishing. Especially if they’re in a dark room (which seems to be the favorite setting for musicians), there’s going to be blurry shots, turn your shutter speed down (mine’s often as low as 50 with an ISO sometimes as low as 100-200). Keep extra batteries close by (that’s what pockets are for) especially if you’re using a flash, that will kill the battery faster than anything.

    Hope that helps!

  • Diane Hapke

    So, I’ve got my first amateur gig tonight. It’s a 14!!!! piece Jazz band. I’m very excited. It will be in a small dark venue. Hopefully there will be good lighting. I don’t intend on using a flash – with all the brass instruments that could backfire. I’ll also be getting there at the same time the band will so there won’t be an opp for staging a group shot. Here are a few things I’ll be considering:
    1. I won’t be able to shoot in RAW since I’m limited to a 4 gb card. :(
    2. as little flash as possible
    3. when I will use the flash, I plan on throwing on an 8 pt. star filter (hope to get some cool shots of the brass)
    4. The lights should play really well of the group so low shutter speed to pick up the mood
    5. hope to focus in on the soloists and get some captivating shots.

    I’ll let y’all know how it turns out!

  • pkdawgs

    As someone who presents concerts, I want something that represents their music and will attract an audience. I don’t want a photo that tells a story so much as asks a question and invites speculation. I like something that pays attention to what’s going on around the edges, without focusing there, makes me look at the eyes, and gives me a sense that the music is going to be even more interesting than this really spectacular photo. That can still happen with train tracks or a brick wall, a stairway, a parking lot, etc., etc.

    Failing the mystery and evocativeness, I want some good performance shots – no mics in front of the face, no stands coming out of heads, no gaping mouths. I would rather have a good close-up of one artist than a lousy, cluttered shot of the entire band.

  • http://photograffiti.tv Timmy

    Nice, I have found some good band promo photos over the time, some of these are great:

    http://davidlachapelle.com

    http://commercialphotographystudiowales.co.uk/band-promo-photography

  • http://www.myspace.com/shepwah nikki sheppard

    Great advice guys and girls. Although fairly proficient at gigphotos http://www.myspace.com/shepwah , i have never done promo shots and will be using all your tips soon for my first one! As for gig photos, i never use flash…i find it kills the colours and atmospheres, upsets musicians, and you lose your ability to blend into the crowd for incognito shots. I do this by using my best purchase to date…an 80quid canon 50mm prime lens that shoots to f1.8…ideal for goid speed without flash in low light..,the pics on my myspace are all shot with it and no flash

  • http://www.asgardsss.co.uk pete@asgardsss.co.uk

    Hi

    The best band photo I have ever taken was an accident. Old warehouse falling down, hole in floor, early morning (nice green light) lined up the shots all OK, then i knocked the camera, it fell, and knocked th eimage out of focus and aperature and took a shot. It is brilliant. The guy in the shot now appears in the West End in Les Mizz. That is my amateur photographer claim to fame!! Pete

    Asgard Metal Sheds

  • http://www.asgardsss.co.uk pete@asgardsss.co.uk

    I’ll post the pic and see what you think and if you recognise the guy in the shot. Can I do this here??
    Pete

  • Taylor

    Some friends of mine asked me tonight if I might be interested in taking some band photos for them. I’m not quite sure what to do yet, but we’re all thinking about it. I’ve never taken any band photos before but I’m quite excited, if anyone has any ideas what to do with a small-town punk band… thanks (:

  • http://chrisblizzard.tumblr.com Chris

    one thing which hasnt been mentioned here, is dont act like an arrogant idiot.
    as a sound engineer, i vividly recall one event, the headllining band had hired a photographer to come and do some promo shots. he set up in the middle of the room, and huffed and puffed and swore at me and another techie, because we kept going through the frame, or causing shadows from his flashes. Whilst I understand the frustration, we needed to get the PA set up, and EQ’d otherwise the band wouldn’t be playing. If he’d moved his gear a few rows back there wouldn’t have been an issue. as it was, he didn’t ask us where we needed access to to do our job, and acted like he was so much more important than we were.
    The second reason I remember the show so much, was because all of his live shots were taken from the same seat, sat on his **** for the entire show, spending too much time switching lenses and missing potentially great shots because he had his head in his back looking for the next lens.
    in summary I guess my tips are:
    1. respect other peoples jobs if you’re in a venue
    2. if people aren’t impressed with your attitude and laziness, they won’t be getting you extra work, so put on a show
    3. Once you get going, pick a lens and stick with it, and LOOK for the shots.

  • http://www.bclaytonphoto.com Bruce

    I came from a ‘tech” background in music. So, it was nice to read the remarks from Chris. I think my experience in the entertainment industry helps me with band photos.
    Shooting Live:
    Don’t waste your time changing the lens. Your better off with two camera.
    Make the stage lights work FOR you. The lights will be there so take advantage of them.
    Move around, try different angles, different perspectives.
    Ask before you do something. Don’t just assume it’s OK to climb on the side fills to get your shot.

    Studio Work:
    Local bands, consider a composite shot. people come and go. Usually as soon as a band gets a new promo, some one quits.

    make the band bring a few clothing options, just because your girlfriend picked it out, doesn’t mean it looks cool.

    the classic black and white image with a white background still works.

    Location shots:

    No train tracks, no brick walls.
    Unless your a death metal band, no grave yards..

    General ideas..Talk to the band, but don’t let them run the shoot. You want them to be happy, but you are the photographer.

    Think outside the box. A previous post made a great suggestion, do the opposite of what the “normal” look for a genre would be.

    Props are OK…if if fits the band. A wedding band with swords isn’t going to help them get gigs.

    Keep the shoot FUN..

  • http://www.myshutterrocks.com Elaina

    I agree that it depends on what type of music they play, but assuming its rock/pop/indie do something neutral like a dessert or a cool old factory. I did a photoshoot in a junkyard once and it turned out very cool. Avoid the same shit diff. day photos.

  • http://www.extrageographic.org/ CR

    Yes good band photos require good technical handling of the camera… but what they really need to stand out is ideas. More here: http://www.extrageographic.org/how-to-make-a-good-band-photo-music/

Some older comments

  • CR

    November 15, 2011 10:26 pm

    Yes good band photos require good technical handling of the camera... but what they really need to stand out is ideas. More here: http://www.extrageographic.org/how-to-make-a-good-band-photo-music/

  • Elaina

    January 25, 2011 05:29 pm

    I agree that it depends on what type of music they play, but assuming its rock/pop/indie do something neutral like a dessert or a cool old factory. I did a photoshoot in a junkyard once and it turned out very cool. Avoid the same shit diff. day photos.

  • Bruce

    August 10, 2010 12:34 am

    I came from a 'tech" background in music. So, it was nice to read the remarks from Chris. I think my experience in the entertainment industry helps me with band photos.
    Shooting Live:
    Don't waste your time changing the lens. Your better off with two camera.
    Make the stage lights work FOR you. The lights will be there so take advantage of them.
    Move around, try different angles, different perspectives.
    Ask before you do something. Don't just assume it's OK to climb on the side fills to get your shot.

    Studio Work:
    Local bands, consider a composite shot. people come and go. Usually as soon as a band gets a new promo, some one quits.

    make the band bring a few clothing options, just because your girlfriend picked it out, doesn't mean it looks cool.

    the classic black and white image with a white background still works.

    Location shots:

    No train tracks, no brick walls.
    Unless your a death metal band, no grave yards..

    General ideas..Talk to the band, but don't let them run the shoot. You want them to be happy, but you are the photographer.

    Think outside the box. A previous post made a great suggestion, do the opposite of what the "normal" look for a genre would be.

    Props are OK...if if fits the band. A wedding band with swords isn't going to help them get gigs.

    Keep the shoot FUN..

  • Chris

    July 25, 2010 09:33 pm

    one thing which hasnt been mentioned here, is dont act like an arrogant idiot.
    as a sound engineer, i vividly recall one event, the headllining band had hired a photographer to come and do some promo shots. he set up in the middle of the room, and huffed and puffed and swore at me and another techie, because we kept going through the frame, or causing shadows from his flashes. Whilst I understand the frustration, we needed to get the PA set up, and EQ'd otherwise the band wouldn't be playing. If he'd moved his gear a few rows back there wouldn't have been an issue. as it was, he didn't ask us where we needed access to to do our job, and acted like he was so much more important than we were.
    The second reason I remember the show so much, was because all of his live shots were taken from the same seat, sat on his **** for the entire show, spending too much time switching lenses and missing potentially great shots because he had his head in his back looking for the next lens.
    in summary I guess my tips are:
    1. respect other peoples jobs if you're in a venue
    2. if people aren't impressed with your attitude and laziness, they won't be getting you extra work, so put on a show
    3. Once you get going, pick a lens and stick with it, and LOOK for the shots.

  • Taylor

    July 8, 2010 05:58 pm

    Some friends of mine asked me tonight if I might be interested in taking some band photos for them. I'm not quite sure what to do yet, but we're all thinking about it. I've never taken any band photos before but I'm quite excited, if anyone has any ideas what to do with a small-town punk band... thanks (:

  • pete@asgardsss.co.uk

    June 21, 2010 07:42 pm

    I'll post the pic and see what you think and if you recognise the guy in the shot. Can I do this here??
    Pete

  • pete@asgardsss.co.uk

    June 21, 2010 07:40 pm

    Hi

    The best band photo I have ever taken was an accident. Old warehouse falling down, hole in floor, early morning (nice green light) lined up the shots all OK, then i knocked the camera, it fell, and knocked th eimage out of focus and aperature and took a shot. It is brilliant. The guy in the shot now appears in the West End in Les Mizz. That is my amateur photographer claim to fame!! Pete

    Asgard Metal Sheds

  • nikki sheppard

    March 15, 2010 05:08 am

    Great advice guys and girls. Although fairly proficient at gigphotos www.myspace.com/shepwah , i have never done promo shots and will be using all your tips soon for my first one! As for gig photos, i never use flash...i find it kills the colours and atmospheres, upsets musicians, and you lose your ability to blend into the crowd for incognito shots. I do this by using my best purchase to date...an 80quid canon 50mm prime lens that shoots to f1.8...ideal for goid speed without flash in low light..,the pics on my myspace are all shot with it and no flash

  • Timmy

    November 26, 2009 03:39 am

    Nice, I have found some good band promo photos over the time, some of these are great:

    http://davidlachapelle.com

    http://commercialphotographystudiowales.co.uk/band-promo-photography

  • pkdawgs

    September 25, 2009 02:12 am

    As someone who presents concerts, I want something that represents their music and will attract an audience. I don't want a photo that tells a story so much as asks a question and invites speculation. I like something that pays attention to what's going on around the edges, without focusing there, makes me look at the eyes, and gives me a sense that the music is going to be even more interesting than this really spectacular photo. That can still happen with train tracks or a brick wall, a stairway, a parking lot, etc., etc.

    Failing the mystery and evocativeness, I want some good performance shots - no mics in front of the face, no stands coming out of heads, no gaping mouths. I would rather have a good close-up of one artist than a lousy, cluttered shot of the entire band.

  • Diane Hapke

    April 23, 2009 12:31 am

    So, I've got my first amateur gig tonight. It's a 14!!!! piece Jazz band. I'm very excited. It will be in a small dark venue. Hopefully there will be good lighting. I don't intend on using a flash - with all the brass instruments that could backfire. I'll also be getting there at the same time the band will so there won't be an opp for staging a group shot. Here are a few things I'll be considering:
    1. I won't be able to shoot in RAW since I'm limited to a 4 gb card. :(
    2. as little flash as possible
    3. when I will use the flash, I plan on throwing on an 8 pt. star filter (hope to get some cool shots of the brass)
    4. The lights should play really well of the group so low shutter speed to pick up the mood
    5. hope to focus in on the soloists and get some captivating shots.

    I'll let y'all know how it turns out!

  • Lauren

    January 13, 2009 07:23 am

    My husband's in a band with the same problem. They all know that within a few days of the gig, they get a cd of my good shots for them to use. While I'm no professional, I do have a few good hints:

    Get to know the band members, especially the behaviorisms of each one on stage, often times, the best pictures are the one of them doing their "signature move" while preforming.

    Test your white balance/shutter speed while they're setting up/tuning. So you have your practice shots out of the way BEFORE the music starts.

    The best photos are often unposed (or appear to be unposed). If they're looking for the "album cover shot" then pose them, but don't make it look like it's everybody standing in front of a white wall, that's boring and it's been done.

    If there is a way to adjust your focal point (which there should be on a higher-end DSLR) then focus on the PEOPLE. I know it sounds dumb, but I have many of great shots that were ruined because the camera focused on the microphone in front of their face instead of their face.

    If you have a top-mounted flash, don't point it directly at them, you want the shot to look as natural as possible, not a washed out face (that and flashes going off when you're preforming isn't the best experience). Make it about a 45 degree angle and see what happens. One of my husband's shows was in a white tent so I used the tent's roof as a reflector and pointed the top-mounted flash straight above and it worked beautifully.

    If you're shooting with digital, just click away and edit them later, the beauty of digital is that you're not wasting money if they don't come out. Shoot in RAW if you can so white balance can easily be adjusted later. Don't be afraid to edit them, sometimes the shot is great but there's half a drum head in the background, edit it out if you can, nobody will know but you (and you're not telling, right?)

    I can do about 250 pictures during an hour long set and about 20-30 of those come out well enough for publishing. Especially if they're in a dark room (which seems to be the favorite setting for musicians), there's going to be blurry shots, turn your shutter speed down (mine's often as low as 50 with an ISO sometimes as low as 100-200). Keep extra batteries close by (that's what pockets are for) especially if you're using a flash, that will kill the battery faster than anything.

    Hope that helps!

  • Randy

    October 19, 2008 03:24 pm

    By the way the Abbey Rd pic of the Beatles on this page is the perfect example of a bad publicity shot for a band to send to a magazine or newspaper... look at the pic honestly and you will see the main focus of your eyes will be looking down the road about 50 yards towards the two cars in the distance.....the beatles look like 4 guys youd never recognise, crossing the road while your pulled up waiting. Youre eyes will be looking past them, down the road towards the horizon.....Its a fine album cover, etc but for a small newspaper article you want it to be more of a closeup of the band....which will also make a great pic for show posters..

  • Randy

    October 19, 2008 03:14 pm

    all these ideas are great for websites..

    when youre asked for a promo pic for magazines and newspapers always have several band pics taken in B&W with a totally white background.. That is the professional standard for Band promo pics for the press. Once you have top quality pics like that you can add in any background you ever wanted, if you want to...
    When you get that pic in the mag/paper they want it to clearly show the band members, no distractions... you want the band to be the center of attention, not the lightpost or the car or the old building, brick wall or the countryside in the background....
    B&W with a white background.. the industry standard...
    you can take the pic in color and convert it to B&W but when u send it, especially to a newspaper always send B&W...

  • Art

    July 21, 2008 10:53 am

    Here are some very different takes on the usual run of the mill band shots:
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/brendanoshea

  • Eric

    July 19, 2008 12:40 am

    Biggest cliches to avoid - and I've unfortunately done both in my day:

    1) band in front of a brick wall.
    2) band on train tracks.

    rockandrollconfidential.com has a "hall of douchebags" that pretty much defines what *not* to do. It's also hilarious although I live in perpetual fear that I'll find my band up there someday.

  • Bill Bensen

    June 10, 2008 07:45 am

    This is the shot my band used. Being a photographer and a band member; I knew what we were looking for in the shot.

    http://surfthisphotography.com/images/bcr/bcrjsmyspace.jpg

    Bill

  • Gregory

    May 16, 2008 05:31 am

    Dont let the band dictate the shoot, because the bands idea of "cool" does not reflect the photography community.

    Cliche shoots are on railroads, in front of a brick wall or with instruments (instrument shots could be cool... i saw a band get some good album artwork with shooting with their instruments... of course it was all underwater, very creative).

    Its ok to have promo shots of the band close together... a promo shot is about the band and not the surrounding area. Of course artistic shots of surrounding area is ok for artwork... but for press, a good head shot is nice to have (or from waste up).

    Go in with a plan and work on composition, be unique and have fun.

  • Erica

    May 16, 2008 05:08 am

    That sounds like a fun assignment. Here are some questions to answer to help you find the answer to your question:

    1) Who are their audience made up of?
    2) What is their focus or mission as a band?
    3) Who do they admire?
    4) What do they aspire to?
    5) Do they have any hit songs that lend imagery to a photo shoot?
    6) Would the band look better photographed during daylight or at night?
    7) Is there a lead instrumentalist or all musicians equal?

    Have fun and post your pics so we can see!

  • ditch_azeroth

    May 15, 2008 10:47 pm

    the abbey road cover is simply a classic. on today's standards, vibrance, among other things, can make it even better - but i like it the way it is. total classic.

    these days though, i find having multiple strobes and long exposures (with a wee bit of light painting) does wonders.

  • Furious Photographers

    May 14, 2008 01:53 pm

    Ah the Beatles! I think a good way is to just use a lot of single point lighting and dramatic shadows. I use this all of the time for my wedding photographs.

  • Ed Stone

    May 14, 2008 06:22 am

    take a peak at my band promo stuff see what you think

  • Mark Greenmantle

    May 13, 2008 11:23 pm

    Amanda suggested getting shots of the band just before they go onstage but... just make sure that EVERYONE involved in their being there has given the ok. Tour managers, venue owners, the band members partners along for the ride can ALL become major headaches for you in this situation. Also be sure that you know your location before you try to set it up.

    Last time I was given 15min with a performer before a gig, he'd just realised how crap the rider was, he was penned into the dressing rooms with nowhere to go to get away from the mass of fans outside and his manager was ranting about lighting. So he wasn't his usual affable self and the shoot not as comfortable as I'd hoped. No one bothered to introduce me to his new drummer, but thankfully my gig captures of him made up for the fact.

    Find out if the performers have pet peeves with their appearance so that you ensure you avoid specific shots they dislike of themselves. I've gone to the trouble of shooting a gig from 20metres out with a 300mmF2.8 just to avoid getting double chin shots. The result - very happy client.

    Other things to consider:
    licensing. just how much usage will you hand over for these shots - and be sure also to get a release to show the shots off on your own site before posting them.

    comments about going through the music mags with the clients to see if they have a liking for certain styles are very much worth trying if at all possible.

    If you've only known the band via myspace or similar, get in as much info both ways about the shoot before even meeting them so that when you do meet them, you'll be more comfortable and confidant. A shooter without confidence makes for uncomfortable clients and usually a crappy shoot.

    Having had clients step off a plane from Florida - straight to my studio here in Brisbane Queensland, the day before a gig, I can tell you, you want to know as much about them from all aspects as you can find out. Not just what they offer up, but get your nose into the music press and see what's being said about them to avoid talking about things they hate, or even subjects they feel strongly about in a negative way. If you want a light fluffy shoot, you don't want a grumpy forceful muso. Similarly, if you want a really in your face shoot, engage them in what riles them up.

    For example, to get Gen Vincent of the shock rock band Genitorturers to show aggression in the studio we spoke about guns and gun laws. She wielded the weapon (replica) I supplied very aggressively through that chat. We used red lighting with blue and white highlights and a smoke machine for effect.

    Invest in props. Some of my fav shoots involved shots planned as regular studio gigs turned wild by clients seeing the props box and going nuts with scary toys. (thankfully few of them knew how to string or draw on the longbow)

    Finally - enjoy yourself. The more fun you take from the shoot, the more likely others will "get into it".

  • keaton

    May 13, 2008 07:29 pm

    Basically... DO SOMETHING DIFFERENT

    A lot of people have suggested this, and it's the thing to do.

    I've been doing the band thing for nearly two years now in ohio, have had the chance to work with a certain ohio music mag a few times... And different is always good.

    Someone suggested shooting in the shade if you don't have lighing, and I strongly disagree. Its hard, but you will get more interesting photos if you shoot in the sun, it's tough to do and not get too contrasty, though. Check my work out, a lot of the older photos on my site were lit naturally before I got my hands on borrowed alien bees.

    Pose them, but try a little action... An action pose. Have them act something out or exaggerate something.

    Someone mentioned dave hill, he is a phenomenal band photog. Use his work as a baseline for ideas, posing, etc. Just remember that he shoots with a lottttt of lights, composites some of his shots and has a lot of solid editing behind his work ;)

    Depending on the band's style, I'd recommend picking up an alternative press mag or two and looking through the photographs. Most of the photos in that mag are original, by talented young people, and can help you get ideas no matter the bands' style.

    Just avoid the cliche, please :)

  • Bilka

    May 13, 2008 11:34 am

    Avoid cliché. There is too much of it in today's musical artists shots – Be original – Set your own trend.

    Bilka

  • Dizzle

    May 13, 2008 01:20 am

    I actually try to pull them OUT of their element. Instead of matching the scene to their music, try for the exact opposite and see what it gets you.

    Take a heavey metal band and drop them in some suits at a church. Take that soft poppy band and drop them at the scrap yard...think outside the box because just about everything has been done inside it :)

  • Joshua Schneiderman

    May 13, 2008 12:03 am

    I've never shot a band, but have been in plenty and am also in marketing. I've found that the best band photos for me were when the photographer and band spent a while together just hanging out. Take a lot of shots, try anything. You should only end up using a couple at any given time anyway to provide a consistent image of the band... so if you take 100 and only 5 are truly spectacular, the other 95 can just be between you and the band.

    I've always been pretty embarrassed of posed shots. One of my bands (an indie trio) had photos taken for the local newspaper. The photo that published had the singer/guitarist sitting on a circular ottoman in the lotus position with the bassist and myself on either side. I'm still feel a little sick whenever that photo surfaces. It's so ridiculous..... so, don't do that. Okay?

  • Cybasumo

    May 12, 2008 10:28 pm

    i think he forgot to metion on what type of music did they band played!? cause that is one key point for making a good cover photo, he should have put it there.

  • Photochick (Amanda)

    May 12, 2008 08:09 pm

    I've only done a couple of shoots for a band I used to be friends with. Our first set of shooting came just after one of their shows... found out that tired, sweaty band-members don't usually take the best pictures...

    Next try came BEFORE one of their shows - got some really awesome shots from that. Some on stage with some extra colored lighting, pretending to play (minus the crowds, smoke, and bad lighting of when they played their show) More pictures came from the stairway in the building, with a couple sitting and a couple standing... And then just a few more in the alleyway behind the building. Some pics they were all looking down, some shots they were turned around looking backward, some they were all turned around w/instruments behind their backs (guitars, tambourine, and even a mic)

    Our best pics came from pics of them in a hot tub - just a really fun shoot with toy in there with them. I stood above them on a ladder and got some amazing pictures... Started shooting around 5:00pm in late fall, so had some in sunset light and some after the sun set, and the steam really started showing up in the pictures... those were the best!

    All those were from more than 3 years ago, and unfortunately, I lost every one of those pictures and thousands more because my computer crashed... I cannot say this enough, but make sure ya'll back up your work!! Best of luck to everyone, much love and God Bless!

  • W. Kim Heron

    May 12, 2008 12:20 pm

    Lots of good points here. One other consideration: Think how the pictures will look on a page. The Abbey Road shot this thread began with is a good example. A newspaper editor seeing that shot for an unknown band might very well pass on it because it doesn't show much of the band (proportionately) and requires a good bit of space to work at all.

    You might also think of making headshots of individual members of the band. This can seem bad if the band has a strong one-for-all, all-for-one mentality -- or if some members are already insecure about who's getting the interview attention. But if John Smith is the member quoted, a paper may use a headshot of the John in some tight layouts where even a close-in full band shot won't work.

    The more options you provide, the better the chances that a pic of the band will see print. Oh, yeah,make sure the caption identifications are readily available.

  • Art

    May 12, 2008 10:35 am

    Here are some band photographers you might want to take a look at:

    http://brook-pifer.com/
    http://www.portraits.brendanoshea.com.au/
    http://www.davehillphoto.com/

  • Aaron

    May 12, 2008 09:53 am

    I took some shots for a friend's band a while back. We walked through an urban area, and got some good shots.

    1] Up against a garage door that you would only see "downtown", I took one picture and then cut each guy into a "frame." Each guy carried his own personality -- the drummer was smiling, almost laughing. The other two guys were more serious.

    2] My favorite shot was on top of a parking deck as the sun was going down. We got some great backlighting in the sky, plus the parking lot lights had come on for an unique white balance. There was a cool directional arrow painted on the wall, the guys took a more serious demeanor and I crouched down low.

  • meat

    May 12, 2008 09:03 am

    An idea I heard was to have the band draw man-sized monsters with chalk on concrete then lie down next to them, with the photographer standing on a tall ladder looking almost straight down on them.

  • Katie

    May 12, 2008 08:08 am

    Another thought would be to pull a concept out of the lyrics of one of their original songs and try to reproduce it either wholly or in part as a photograph incorporating the band.

  • Klaidas

    May 12, 2008 07:41 am

    The first thing I though when I read the headline on RSS: backlight + smoke. I imagine the band playing on a scene, with the smoke backlit, the camera pointing a bit upwards from the ground with a wide angle lens.

    --Klaidas
    http://www.klaidas.lt

  • Fern R

    May 12, 2008 07:34 am

    I tend to agree with OlPeculier that stages and scrap yards (and other grimy locations) are cliche for band promo shots. Though I do agree that the style of the band's music and the personality of the band should be taken into consideration when choosing a location.

    I've been put in the same situation as Brett ("Hey, you have a camera, can you take some photos of us?") and if I could do it all over again, I think I would experiment more with unusual angles and perspectives and less on finding a "cool" location. For example, looking down on the band while they lie on the ground (I found this on Flickr and it is sort of what I was thinking, but I think it would have been more interesting if the band had their instruments). Or another idea would be to view the band through something...like if they were standing in the middle of the street at night and were illuminated by an oncoming car's front headlights and the photo was taken from the perspective of the driver with parts of the car's windshield in the frame.

    I dunno, those are a few ideas. It's kind of hard thinking of ideas when I know so little about the band...not that I'd have great ideas if I knew more... :-P

  • AlexTheodin

    May 12, 2008 07:01 am

    I always like band photos that show the members in a "snapshot" kind of way having fun. You can always try the obvious one (while rehearsing) it might be cliché but it works.
    Some other ideas would be to shoot them like they are on the road. Outside of a car or van, inside it all packed with guitars out the windows, sitting and having fun on the bus etc

    Or try them using their instruments for something out of their normal function. Like use the drums as a plate to serve food and guitars as swords and one using the mic as a shaving machine or smth...

  • Spingere

    May 12, 2008 05:58 am

    Just try to avoid everyone standing wistfully next to trees. Yawn.

  • OlPeculier

    May 12, 2008 05:41 am

    @SkinnedChu

    Actually, I wouldn't do that as I personally feel it's one of the oldest cliché's in the book

    A band over here persuaded the owner of our local cinema to put their name up on the front display. Bit corny but it worked, the band are doing very well in the UK charts (On Night Only for those that care)

    Try for somehing different, I tried to get a duo up in a 6 seat plane and have them piloting it but they weren't up to it

    Best though, and I've dome tbis a lot, if they have good lights just shoot a live gig. One shot I liked doing was to try and find a position directly over the drummer (once this was just the case of standing on a stool), hold the camera face down in front of you, and with a wide angle just click and hope

    Just by 2pence...

  • Steve

    May 12, 2008 04:45 am

    I agree with SinnedCbu that it depends on the style of music. My favorite band photos have been on-stage shots taken at very low angles with a very shallow depth of field and candid shots of band members just hanging around. I don't usually like posed shots. The low angle is good for guitarists looking down at the guitar neck so you can get their faces. It's hard to get a good on-stage shot of an entire band, espcially a drummer behind a large kit. On a couple of occassions I've been able to get good shots up on the light grid or a balcony.

  • Clif

    May 12, 2008 03:14 am

    Avoid brick walls and train tracks. :)

    I agree with SinnedCbu, in that you really want to match the mood of the photos to the band's music and overall brand. One of the best things you can do is spend some time with the band flipping through music magazines, examining the band photos. They are likely to find shots they like intuitively, based on their own tastes, which can becoming a basis for their own photos.

  • Keito

    May 12, 2008 03:02 am

    I have shot several band promo's for local bands - nothing to big I might add - and have done the occasional 'bigger' gig.

    I usually just make sure I know what kind of music they make and what type of people they are and what their fans would expect.

    For instance, I once shot a ska-band and the bandmembers were all about fun, both on a off stage, so I had them just run around like crazy and "play" with each other while I just took a lot of pics. They were genuinely "fun" pics and imho captured them really good.

    I also once shot a progressive rock/metal band, and basically I made them look quite tough by making them pose 'powerfully' in front of an old castle ruin - kind of reflecting their music a bit.

    My best advice is probably not really advice at all, but try checking out bands in the same genre and see if there's any sort of 'general' theme. For instance, metal bands always pose really mean and tough, crossed arms, industrial/dark backgrounds etc. You can then decide to either go with that with your own spin of course, or just go completely opposite of 'the norm' - which could also reflect the bands personality.

    Also, I usually take pics of bands playing as well, which has given me a lot of nice photo's as well, from very emotional ones to fun ones with bandmembers interacting on stage. My personal opinion is these photo's are way cooler to look at and give a better view of the band.

    Hope this was of any help Brett ^_^

  • Jaiwanjin

    May 12, 2008 02:25 am

    Like the commenter above me, it really depends on what genre of rock the band plays, but I'd recommend your local college campus. It's a safe area for shooting, and on the weekends there's usually not many people around, meaning the band can bring and even set up instruments for posing purposes without getting in peoples' way or vice versa. Usually a venue as large as a college campus will give you tons of backgrounds and different styles of construction for all the different areas of the school. Most will also have a park or some grassy area if you decide to go for a natural style as opposed to urban.

    If you aren't near any colleges you can get creative with parks and streets/alleys, etc but that's definitely my first recommendation.

    As for the photography itself, please please please shoot in the shade. I'm going to assume you don't have off camera strobes and a lot of other fancy equipment, so my best advice is to shoot in the shade. You'll get much better contrast and nice color, and that's definitely something you want for print/advertisement. It seems really obvious but a lot of people end up shooting in direct sunlight and get lots of harsh shadows and blown highlights. Of course it's not an absolute rule to shoot in the shade, but in this situation I'd recommend it.

    Buy a reflector online or at your local camera store, you should be able to get one at a reasonable price, and it will help immensely with your lighting. Especially since you'll be shooting a band, you can have the people not in the shots help you with holding the reflector, which can be a pain to try to do solo. (Save for the group shots of course)

    For inspiration I suggest you look at myspaces and webpages of other bands that are popular but still in the underground scene, as they usually will also have a photographer on a budget, and you can see what some really talented amateurs, or aspiring pro photographers who haven't hit it big yet shoot.

    Most of all don't worry or get nervous about the shoot, it's probably the most low stress assignment you can get. It's a great opportunity to learn, so be sure to experiment and shoot shoot shoot.

    Besides, they can't argue about how much they're paying you. ;)

  • Michael R

    May 12, 2008 02:20 am

    I would say, tell them to use their imagination and don't be afraid of being too weird... Just like the names of bands today, their art is always weird, but cool.

  • Craig

    May 12, 2008 01:45 am

    Go to a couple of their rehearsals and take some photos of them playing both individually and as the whole group.

    Go buy some music magazines for some inspiration!

    Try using really wide apertures and mood lighting. Also backing up SinnedCbu about the environment that you'll want the band in.

    The thing with bands is that you have to have an image, and be clear on what that image is so that you can stick to it religiously. Eg: you don't see punk bands wearing year 1800 clothes and standing in an barn. You would see them wearing ripped clothes and standing in a skate park!

  • JDoherty

    May 12, 2008 01:38 am

    Shoot a lot. Keep shooting until they are annoyed with you, then shoot some more. If this is their first band photo then you are in discovery mode. Move them around, play with the relationships among them within the frame, don't assume that the frontman is in front, go for mood lighting over portrait lighting. If you can find photos from better-known bands that they sound like, pick some of the best and imitate them.

  • SinnedCbu

    May 12, 2008 01:25 am

    I would say it depends on what type of music the band plays, I guess from that you can basically sort out what kind of environment and mood you would want your pictures to be. Like for example if they are a heavy metal band. a bar stage would be a good place to shoot or a scrap yard would be nice also. Just my two cents...

  • Timothy Neilen

    May 12, 2008 01:19 am

    Just a quick suggestion for locations, choose something that really suits the band. I've seen a lot of great promo photos for rock bands taken in sheds lit only by fluro lights, and electro band photos taken out in the streets with neon store lights.

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