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Photo Shoot Essentials for Musicians

Steve Aoki. (Photo by Jim Donnelly)

This article originally appeared on Performer Magazine.


Recently, at a panel discussion featuring several members of the Boston-area music press, a local musician asked, "What do I need to have in order for local press to cover my band?" One panelist, the editor of a weekly paper, told the crowd that they must have a photo. He said he didn't care if it was just the band standing in front of a brick wall, taken by their friend, as long as there was a photo.

His advice was dangerous, and indie artists should be cautioned against it. If you simply send any old picture to a publication, regardless of the quality, you're wasting a press opportunity. Musicians must face an obvious, if unfortunate, truth: people are visual creatures. If your band photo makes you look second-rate, that is exactly what consumers will think you are. No matter how glowing the review, some number of readers will disregard your band if you look like a bunch of amateurs. When you have an opportunity to be featured in press, it's your responsibility to take advantage of that opportunity by putting your best foot forward. Using a poor-quality photo that doesn't represent the spirit of your band is not making the most of the press you're receiving.

How to Recognize the Thin Line Between Funny and Foolish Band Photos

Manowar (Image via manowar-collection.de)

For years now, the internet has been littered with lists and websites devoted to horrible album covers and band press shots. Sure, these lists and articles are good, harmless fun and indirectly keep alive the names of certain leather- and spandex-clad metal and hard rock headliners of yesteryear (like Manowar above), as well as well-intentioned gospel artists. But who really wants their lasting legacy to be a meme? Read on to find out how bands in the digital age can have fun with press shots without setting themselves up as an eternal internet punchline.