First impressions really do matter.
When it comes to cementing that favorable first impression, you probably think about a well crafted bio, a tight live show, or an engaging social presence—and you’d be right! All of those things are paramount in creating not only a great first impression, but a favorable connection long term. But there’s one area that artists tend to overlook—promo photos.
Whether you’re about to embark on a PR campaign or just outfitting your social media, press photos are going to play an important role. So how do you create photos that can wow press, while pulling in new fans? Read on.
Be clear on your brand
First, you want to be absolutely clear on what your brand is. This is a tough one for many artists, but I promise that figuring this out sooner rather than later will not only pay off, but be incredibly necessary as you continue navigating your career.
When it comes to the day of the photo shoot, walking into it without any idea of who you are or what you want to convey is going to spell awkwardness and sub-par photos at best. Since knowing your brand is one of those things that’s going to be important to just about every aspect of your career, you really want to nail it down ASAP.
In planning for the shoot, you can scout locations that make sense for your brand, as well as choose clothing, props, and brainstorm poses that all align with the central theme of you.
Having a plan for things that help send the message of who you are is crucial for clarity. Your press photos should always tell me with a quick glance 1) what genre you play and 2) a bit of insight into your personality.
For instance, you wouldn’t expect to find a death metal band sharing press photos of them smiling into the sunshine in a field of flowers. That would be really confusing and I’d be super confused when I flipped on their music. However, if you’re a folk singer who writes songs about love and positivity, that setting and mood would likely be a better fit.
Hire a professional
Please don’t try to do this with your friend’s smartphone. I don’t care if it’s the latest version with a super awesome camera, it’s still a smartphone, and your friend still (probably) isn’t a professional photographer. (If they are, they probably also have a professional camera and some experience, and then you have my blessing)
It can be easy to try to skimp on costs here by using a phone and a friend, but trust me when I say, while it might work in a pinch, it’s not going to be a strong representation of who you are, and it will catch up to you.
The benefit of hiring a professional isn’t just that the photos will be a much higher quality, it’s that they’ll be able to direct you in a way that your friend simply can’t. When you work with someone who is used to taking band promo photos, they’ll know how to direct you so that your arm doesn’t look weird in one shot and you don’t keep making that uncomfortable face. You’re hiring them for their skills, and that includes making you comfortable so you produce the best photos possible.
Play with colors and props
This goes along with trying out different settings, but depending on your brand, try introducing different colors (especially colors that pop like reds, yellows, blues, etc) and different props that drive the feel of your brand. Adding just a touch of color, or just the right prop can take a photo from totally boring to completely captivating.
When taking and later sharing press photos, you want to have a variety at your disposal. This means different locations, clothing, and moods, so that you can get a variety of shots to play around with. This will come in handy when you’re sending to press, but also as a way to include variety in your online presence over the next 6 months.
While your press photos should match from platform to platform (IE you don’t want a different profile photo on every platform), if you have a variety of shots to choose from, it offers you the option to change it up every few months, to keep things from getting too stale.
Finally, don’t underestimate the power of having fun. It can be easy to get yourself all stressed out about taking the perfect photo but at the end of the day, you want to let your personality shine through and preferably that personality is one that’s having at least a little bit of fun. That doesn’t mean your photos need to be all smiles, but when you allow yourself to have fun on set, you loosen up, you let your guard down, and the photos come out better. Win-Win.
Angela Mastrogiacomo is the founder and CEO of Muddy Paw PR. She loves baked goods, a good book, and hanging with her dog Sawyer.