Tips: Band photo basics

By | Published on Tuesday 13 March 2012


CMU Business Editor Chris Cooke provides ten tips for artist photos.

Every artist or band needs some great photos to give their own online presence a good look and feel, and so that media have something good to illustrate any coverage of their work. Some media still commission their own photography, though frequently these days only for key features, and some media are totally reliant on photos provided by the band or their label and PR reps.

It is probably worth spending a little money to get your photos done properly, and a good photographer will be able to direct you in terms of what to wear, and how and where to stand. Though remember, the copyright in photos belongs by default to the photographer, so you need a written agreement that enables you to use the photos worldwide (either by taking ownership of the copyright, or having a perpetual worldwide licence).

If you are having photos taken, here are ten tips on what to think about before the shoot, and what to do with your pictures once they are taken.

1. It’s good to make a number of photos available, so media can choose what works best for their page. Some media also like to vary the photos they use each time they write about a band.

2. Think about what you stand in front of. An interesting backdrop can really make your photo stand out, and add some colour. Though it might be worth considering also having a photo with a white backdrop – some publications might want to ‘wrap’ their text around your bodies, and having a photo where it’s easy to Photoshop out the backdrop is useful.

3. If possible, provide a landscape, portrait and square photo, some website designs require photos to be a certain shape, and if they need it portrait or square and you’ve provided landscape, whoever’s on the peripheries of the photo (it’s probably going to be the drummer and bassist, isn’t it?) will likely get cut off.

4. It’s good to have a couple of photos which are close up on your faces, and a couple which show your full bodies, giving the media more flexibility in how they use your pictures.

5. Putting arty effects on photos – or having composite pictures made up of a number of photos – may look great on your website and social media, and may be the sort of thing fans will want to share via Tumblr and Pinterest, which is great. But media will generally prefer straight band shots.

6. Most media are full colour these days. Black and white photos might look more arty, and are fine for your own web presence but make sure you have colour photos for everyone else to use.

7. Once you have your great photos, make them available in as many places as possible – upload them to your Facebook (and MySpace if you still have one), and have a ‘press photos’ page on your website that is easily accessible (don’t make journalists plough through hundreds of live and fan-submitted photos to get to the official press shots, because most won’t). Your label and PR reps should also put your press photos on their websites. Don’t password protect photo pages – there’ll always be a time when a publication needs your picture at the last minute to meet a print deadline, and if they have to apply to access your photos you’ll miss out.

8. Clearly label press photos as PRESS PHOTOS, so media know they can use them. It’s also useful to date them, so journalists can see which are most recent, and if you are able to provide a caption so people know who’s who, that’s helpful too.

9. Online media only need photos at 72dpi at the size they appear on screen (and can therefore often grab them from your Facebook). Print media will need higher resolution photos (preferably 300 dpi), so make links to these files available on your website.

10. When emailing press releases to journalists, it’s better to provide links to both high res and low res photos – or to a press photo page on your website – rather than attaching or embedding lots of photos with the email.

Chris offers more insights on music PR through the CMU Insights training courses. Click here for more information.