We like music, but we love taking photos of musicians. Check out our samples and tips.
If you’re anything like us, your life is moved, motivated and surrounded by music. There is few things better than putting on your favorite album, plugging in the headphones, turning up the volume and tuning out the world. Being photographers, we love the opportunity to work with musicians to create images for their promotional materials. It’s a thrill to try and condense a band’s sound and aesthetic into an image; translating ‘audio’ into ‘visual’.
Whenever we get to work with a band or musician, we have a few suggestions and things we always consider before starting the actual capture process. If you’re in a band, or a photographer who may have some musicians you want to work with in the future, here is our recommendations to make the most of your capture time.
What to Wear – It’s pretty safe to say, being in a band is not just playing music, but there is also an aesthetic in what the musicians wear and how they perform their songs. The members of the group usually understand their visual elements and the photographer’s job to enhance those elements for the image that will represent the band. We usually recommend that each person brings three or four of their favorite outfits from their own closest that each individual feels best represents their personality and conveys confidence. With these options presented from everyone in the group before the shoot, the photographer can help pick the right options to make sure everyone’s individual look compliments, without duplicating, the other band member’s outfits.
Lighting Setup – As with any photography, lighting is not only a key element to creating an image, it’s literally everything. Lighting is an excellent way to create and express the mood or emotion that the music conveys to the band’s audiance. Strong, dramatic lighting can transmits dark and heavy moods while bright, full lighting combined with pops of colors can emote vibrant and approachable vibes. Listen to your subject’s music and try to visualize lighting and textures that the songs present to your mind’s eye.
Location Location Location – Finding the right spot can be the home run component to a band’s portrait. Finding elements, textures, and depth of field considerations that fit into what the band is conveying in their songs could be that one little aspect that takes the image from a regular group photo to an iconic image of the band and the music they write. Take some time before the day of the shoot to look around and see if there is a location that jumps out at you. Or work with the band members to see if they know some areas or locations that they feel could represent them well.
More than any other type of photography we have done, working with a band or musician is a definitely a collaboration. There should clear communication throughout the entire process to make sure every consideration has been expressed both from the band to photographer, and vice versa. As a photographer, you can create a very artistic image, but if it doesn’t fit the band’s concept of themselves and their music, they will never use the image for their promotional needs, which is the exact objective for this type of assignment. Make sure they have a clear understanding of your vision, not only before the shoot, but also during, so they can see it take shape. Be open to their feedback and willing to modify your concepts on the fly as the band shares how they feel about the images.
But most important; have fun and create iconic images!