Posted: Aug 26, 2019
**Guest post written by Mark Smith, owner of Musical Instru.
"Let’s face it - a promo photo is an extremely powerful part of music, with its ability to catch the attention of fans, bookers, music journalists, and the industry in general. However, while the capabilities of a promo photo can’t be overstated, it all depends on the amount of care you exert into its production. To be honest, your promo photo is just as capable of effectively telling your story as your music, but that’s only if you get it right.
In the modern world, everything is always moving at a very fast pace, so the roles of photos have become a lot bigger. Apparently, this is basically why everyone loves Instagram. How you look at a person’s pictures or Instagram profile and instantly have an insight into the life, interests, and personality of the person. Undoubtedly, this is what a good promo photo should be able to do. Your audience should be able to grasp an idea of your personality by just looking at your promo photo.
Having said all of these, we’ve dedicated this article to teach you how to create an outstanding promo photo that is capable of catching the attention of fans, bookers, and the industry at large.
The first thing that your photo needs to be capable of is telling your story. After taking a glance at your photo, your audience should know almost everything about you, including your genre, your personalities, and even your characteristics. For example, your photo should be able to tell if you are a very serious person, a playful person or a sweet person.
Perhaps, you may be confused on where exactly to begin, so here is a tip. First of all, think about exactly what your brand represents, then start to think about how you can express that in your promo photos. For instance, if you are an extremely tech and nature centric person, then nature must definitely assume a role in your music photos. In other words, you must not take indoor shots as it would contradict the person you really are.
As soon as you have figured out what story you want to convey to your audience, then you need to determine the methods or ways you’ll use to do the conveying. However, you must make sure that you start your preparations ahead of time. This means that it’s unacceptable to start determining the wardrobe, location, aesthetic, and general attitude on the day of the shoot.
While practicing in front of the mirror may look silly, it will actually make the process much smoother when the D-day comes. In fact, you can ask one of your friends or family members to do test shoots, so that you’ll have a clear picture of what is likely to work and what is likely to not work.
Moving on, you need to introduce your personality and brand into the photos. It doesn’t matter if your group has a flare for costumes and theatrics or not, some promo photo rules apply to everyone. If your pictures are too clichéd or corny, you’ll come across as unoriginal and ubiquitous, even though that wasn’t your intention.
While there are numerous artists that never forget to send promo photos with credit information, there are many more who always forget. Consequently, photographers don’t often get their due for the appearance of their work in the media.
That said, ensure you credit the photos clearly where it shows up on your website. In fact, we suggest you include the information in the name of the file. With that, there won’t be any chance of discrepancies.
While we already said a lot about ensuring that everything is properly organized before the day of the photo shoot, one thing we have not mentioned yet is that you have to hire a trained photographer. The meaning of this is that no iPhones for promo photos, no inviting the teen next block who just started to learn how to use a camera just to safe some dollars.
Regardless of what your budget is, there is always a way to get high-quality promo photos, which include going to local colleges to find students of photography or even asking people to recommend budget-friendly photographers for you. No matter which option you eventually choose, just make sure you give the job to a professional. Of course, it’s great to have candid shots from tours or practice on your social media pages and website. However, those ones are only great for the fans, and you will need a good promo photo to have any chance of impressing the press.
While photo shoots can be potentially costly and even tedious, you need to update them from time to time. Apparently, a photo from ten years ago may look very dated, and may even give your supposed audience an impression that your music is also dated. What most bands do is that they take new promo photos for every album, which is quite reasonable, particularly if their label shares or covers the bill.
However, some bands don’t take promo photos for many years despite dropping studio records and playing shows regularly, which doesn’t make any sense at all. Like, does it make sense to still be circulating your photos that include a member you dropped many months ago? Of course, it doesn’t make sense, so you also got the point now.
In conclusion, a promo photo is a powerful part of music making. However, while your music needs a unique promo photo, it doesn’t take away the powers of your music as well. Basically, both work hand in hand. "
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