Band photography is a growing niche in music photography.
As a music photographer, it is your job to make the band look cool in the pictures. Band photography is not for complete beginners. You have to know your equipment and camera settings.
Read our 12 photography tips to learn to shoot incredible band photography.
12. Meet up With the Band and Get to Know the Band Members
Make sure that you get to know the band and their music before the photoshoot. Meet up with them in a casual way and learn about the style of their music and the band.
Check them out while performing or having a formal practice. You should learn about the members in a formal and informal way as well.
Get to know the members as well. Who is the lead singer? Or the guitarist? Who is performing in the back and who is in the front? Make sure you know everyone’ general position.
Ask about the band’s inspiration. Do they have an idol they want to resemble? You don’t want to steal any famous band photography ideas. But you can create similar feels and vibes during the photo shoot.
11. Learn the Purpose of the Band Photos
Promotional music photography is a wide category. Make sure to find out the purpose of the band photos.
Is it to promote a tour? Or a new album cover? Is it to show band while practising? Knowing the purpose of the band photo will help you deliver what your clients want.
Make sure to know what platform the photos will appear at. You need to shoot high-quality images. But a billboard and an album cover have different sizes and requirements.
10. Decide on the Theme of the Band Photos
After getting to know the band and their music, decide on a theme. Make sure it reflects their music and the occasion. If the bands want to reflect the season or a holiday, choose that as a theme.
If the photos are more general, you can choose the band’s most famous song and make them act it out.
9. Look for a Suitable Location
The location has a huge influence on the outcome of the photoshoot. It also created the mood for the pictures.
Like other stages of the band’s photo session, I recommend you involve the musicians in location searching. If they have a specific place in mind, you need to adapt to their choice.
Bars, restaurants and concert locations always work well for band photography. If the group is asking for live band photos, shoot them at their practice venue or during a concert. Always make sure you have the appropriate permission for photographing at a venue.
Not every location fits every band. Make sure the location suits the musicians’ style. A Backstreet-Boy-like boy band won’t look authentic in a rock setting.
8. Discuss Clothing With the Band Members
Every musician has their own clothing style. Discuss the clothes they want to wear during the photo session.
Coordinate how they look together. They don’t have to have matching outfits. But it’s your job to tell them if something looks out of place in the photo.
7. Use Props to Create the Scene
Be creative and use different kinds of props for the photo session. Instruments, costumes and or any decoration that fits the photo session.
You don’t have to stick to typical props that are often used for photographing musicians. The band members can all bring something personal to the photoshoot. Or the scene can look like as if they were having a themed dress-up party.
6. Visit the Location for Test Shots
It’s a good idea to visit the location before the actual photoshoot takes place. Check out the lighting conditions and decide whether you need to take your own lights.
Take a few test shots of the scene. Try different camera settings until you get the results you aim for. This can save you time during the actual photoshoot.
5. Have a Checklist for the Band Photos
Like in wedding photography, it is handy to have a checklist for the photographing bands. Discuss with them how many pictures they need, and if there is any specific setting or pose they want.
Create a checklist and print it out. Take it with you for the photo session. You can follow your list and tick off the bullet points when you have done them.
This will help your workflow and make you look even more professional. Sometimes musicians and creative talents need some nudge to keep going. A list will keep you on track, and your photo session will be more efficient.
4. Have a Brief About the Photo Sessions With the Musicians
Tell the band the details of the photo session. Explain every idea you have in mind. Make sure they know what is going to happen.
This will help you to have more time for taking the pictures at the location. If the artists want to wear different outfits, it is useful to discuss when they are going to change.
If there is more than one location, tell the group how long you plan to stay at each place. The more details you share, the smoother the photo session will be.
3. Ask the Band About Post-Processing
Before you start taking the photos, make sure to discuss how your clients feel about post-processing. Maybe they want some special effects in the pictures.
Some artists only allow being photographed if certain blemishes are corrected in the images. Or the opposite, they want the pictures to look as natural as possible.
If you have a specific post-processing style, show it to your clients. Agreeing on the photo editing will make sure that you deliver the aspired outcome.
2. Direct the Band’s Poses
Musicians are used to performing in front of the audience. But they might have no idea how to act during a photoshoot.
Some people are natural in front of the camera. While others lose their charm as you push the shutter button.
As a photographer, it is your task to direct the musician’s poses. Even if the group has very specific ideas about the settings, you are the one on the other side of the viewfinder. Some poses feel awkward but look cool in the photos.
If someone feels uncomfortable in front of the camera, try to ease their mood. Make them do funny poses and facial expression. Keep taking photos while they have fun and get a bit loose. Then transition into the more formal poses.
1. Take Spontaneous Photos
Be ready to take photos any time during the shoot. Sometimes the best moments happen when you least expect them. Those can turn into iconic photographs.
Take photos that are spontaneous and not staged or directed. Try to capture the musician’s personalities. Ask them to goof around a bit or pretend they are having a concert in a full arena.
Band photography requires a lot of professionalism and flexibility. The musicians have their specific style and ideas. You need to adapt to what they like and combine them with your expertise.
But it is also an entertaining photo session. You get to hang out with cool people and might feel like part of the group. Lots of fans would love to take your position and be close to their beloved artists.
Use the photography tips above to get more comfortable with taking shots of bands. And remember to have fun while getting the work done!
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