Photography has nothing to do with music, but the pictures that represent you or your band are hugely important. Imagery, along with the written narrative you use to describe the story behind your music (your bio) is an integral part of getting people interested in your project. But while solid and engaging band photos can help draw in the attention of potential listeners, poorly executed pictures can do just the opposite. Here are some things you’ll want to avoid while taking band photos:
Taking pictures on railroad tracks
In addition to making for boring, cliched photos, taking pictures on live railroad tracks is incredibly dangerous. According to the Federal Railroad Administration, deaths from walking on railroad tracks are up nearly 10 percent in recent years, with 483 fatalities reported in 2014 alone. But even without the massive risks you’ll take should you decide to do the whole train track photo thing, the pictures you’ll end up with will look dated and uninteresting because it’s been done so many times before.
Taking a few pictures in front of a brick wall is fine, but not if that’s the only setting for your photos. Brick walls are predictable and boring, and you’ll run the risk of people associating your music with those ideas if all of your pictures are in front of them. It doesn’t take that much time and effort to find a wall with some sort of color to pose in front of, so taking the extra step of shooting at a setting more interesting than a brick wall will definitely pay off.
Looking disingenuous or unnatural
Most musicians aren’t models, so the skill of posing in a natural and engaging way isn’t something that comes naturally to most bands. But rather than trying hard to look cool or tough, you’ll be much better off by trying to appear as natural as possible. Unless you’re working with a highly experienced photographer, the sorts of photos that will work the best are the ones where fans and press outlets are able to catch a glimpse of who you really are.
Things like having your lead singer stand at the front of a picture or forming your band in a “V” are examples of over-posing that runs the risk of ruining your photos. Again, unless you’re being posed by a professional photographer, it’s typically better to try to look as natural as possible while being photographed.
Shooting photos without a concept or plan
Here’s the thing. Most of the things I just said to avoid in pictures can be done as long as there’s some sort of plan or concept in place. Rather than just going out on the street and winging it, you’ll probably get the best photographic results if some sort of planning is involved. The only rule here is that the feel of the photos should match the music you’re making. This means you’ll need to have a conversation about what your music means and how to best visually represent it.
Patrick McGuire is a musician, writer, and educator currently residing in the great city of Philadelphia. He creates music under the name Straight White Teeth, and has a great affinity for dogs and putting his hands in his pockets.