It has come to my attention that this post is a necessary one! Every day I see artists that don’t follow this one rule -
Whether you’re a newbie or a seasoned pro, you need to have at least one great photo that clearly displays who you are as an artist.
If you’ve been keeping up, you probably know what I’m going to say next… Yes! Very good. This photo should follow along with you BRAND! Same style, feel, and color scheme. This photo should be something that you can not only use as a social media photo, but can also be used as a press photo. What’s a press photo you ask? A press photo is a photo that you or a publicist can use to send to press outlets along with pitches and requests for coverage.
I’ve put together a list of what you should be shooting for (get it, you shoot with a camera?? ahh, never mind) & once you have the photo, what you should do with it.
- Go pro. If you can afford it, hiring a pro photographer that has shot other musicians is the best way to go. You’ll get an amazing result & they understand the purpose of these. I would steer clear of anyone who has not shot for musicians before as those can end up looking a bit like an actor headshot. You definitely don’t want it to look like you’re trying out for the re-boot of Friends. As with any time you spend money, put in the research and hire someone who has shot photos that you dig.
- No live show photos. I don’t care how cool you look - live photos are not to be used as press photos. Sometimes press will request a live photo, but you should always start by sending the one that’s on brand.
- Make sure you/your band is the focal point. You don’t want it to end up like that weird tinder photo where you have to guess who is actually in the band.
- No visible pixels! This is not a look. You can 100% get away with a usable photo from an iPhone, but make sure the lighting is such that it doesn’t look grainy and horrible.
- Stay away from overly busy t-shirts and prints. It’s distracting and can throw off color profiles.
- Do not over edit. Unless this is a true aesthetic choice that follows your brand, overly edited photos can end up looking less professional and more out of touch. I’d rather see a clear, barely touched up, seemingly “boring” photo than 100 different edits on a photo any day.
- Do your best to have it match your genre. Maybe don’t take a photo in a field of flowers if you’re in a metal band…. unless your band has a song called “Kill of all the Flowers” and you’re in a field of dead flowers. That’s pretty metal.
- If your music is quirky, be quirky. If your music does not fall into that category, don’t use a photo because you think it’ll get a laugh.
Sending it out into the world:
- DO NOT ATTACH TO AN EMAIL. I repeat - do not attach press photos to an email. Send a link where people can download (google drive, dropbox, etc — read up on my organization post here).
- DO NOT SEND WITHIN THE BODY OF AN EMAIL. Major pet peeve: getting a massive press photo that’s in the body of an email that takes over any sort of text and totally throws off the format of the email. Nothing looks as unprofessional as this.
- Make sure you have a high res version and a low res version. When people ask for “high res” it means high resolution (usually anything over 1MB will work). Low res is anything under that. That’s a basic guideline, but sometimes print press will want an even larger file. However, don’t send anything over 5 MB unless it’s requested… that’s overkill.
- Unless low is requested, send the link to the hi resolution file.
- Always send as a JPG file unless another file type is requested (on occasion people will want a PDF or PNG file).
- ALWAYS CREDIT THE PHOTOGRAPHER. Super important. Unless you took the photo yourself - the person who took it deserves the credit.
- It’s best to have both a horizontal and a vertical option. Not 100% necessary, but it’s helpful for press!
And now! Here are some killer examples of band photos (using our friends as examples b/c they are rad):
Personal note: We’re on tour right now! Check out ronpopemusic.com/shows to see if we’ll be anywhere near you. We’d love to say hello.
REASON TO IGNORE THIS ADVICE: You don't need social media, the press, or any outside help to catapult your career into stardom. Excited for you, bro.