Amazing music and great imagery are bff's. A powerful image has a way of enhancing the music and message we are trying to create. The reverse can be said for poor imagery. An ill thought out, poorly executed image can cause fabulous music to be overlooked and not listened to. So although music is our number one focus, let us try to also put our best into this aspect of the process to.
Things I've learnt:
- Find a great photographer who is enthusiastic and willing to collaborate. If you find someone fabulous, you can build a relationship with them that can grow and develop as your career does. The way I've found the photographers I've worked with are to ask friends for recommendations, and searching social media and google. It can be a little daunting contacting individuals cold, but if you love the work you've seen then it can be really worth it. I actually found Cat Lane via google and we've collaborated successfully for the last few years.
- Pour you creativity into the creative direction of your shoot. I love how Dawn Richard approaches her imagery. It seems to literally be another form of her artistic expression. Her images speak a thousand words before you've even listened to a note of her music.
Dawn's imagery also compliment the avant-garde, boundary bending nature of her music. This approach may not work for mine or your personality, direction, or music we make, but the underlying principle can be adopted: Let's make sure our artist imagery is not an afterthought in our music making process, but an important project within the project. Let's get as creative as possible and push it to be the best it can be.
- Be willing to pay - it's worth it. It's goes without saying, but I'll say it anyway: Particularly with photography, you get what you pay for. Invest time finding the best photographer you can, who's approach fits what you are looking for, and be willing to save up if need be to work with them.
- Consider location, inside? Outdoors? Both? Figure out what you'll be using these images for, and whether the location you are considering fits the brief. Have a brief. Lol. Outdoor shoots are great, natural light is always flattering and you can easily switch things up and shoot at multiple locations.
However a studio shoot can provide opportunity to get really creative with concept and lighting. It can be more expensive, but depending on the brief, it can be a price worth paying.
- Plan shoot, poses, mood. Create extensive moodboards. Actually moodboard the heck out of you ideas. It will be so helpful for all involved. Research fellow artists images, fashion photography, imagery from varying eras, and add ones that inspire you to your moodboard. I typically do all of this on Pinterest.
- Your look. Plan research the look(s). Have at least two for variety and to get the most out of the shoot. Remember accessories. Strongly consider working with a stylist, even just a consultation to get tips on what to buy yourself.
-Makeup. Unless you're excellent, or a professional, hire a makeup artist for sure.
- Decide what you will be using the images for. Are they for your website, as part of your EPK, for flyers, social media or EP/Album artwork. The use will help you as you develop ideas about composition. For example should you need images to use as flyers to add text to at a later date, you may want to make sure there is enough negative space for this (and it will be something you'll need to share with your photographer prior to shooting). Or if it's for your website, make sure you have a few horizontal images as they are usually better dimensionally for a site.
- Have someone on set in addition to the photographer who has a good creative eye to help with poses, can inject variety and creativity into the shoot. And most importantly to make sure your clothes and makeup are in place. It can be so annoying when you have to try and recreate a great shot because you have dirt on your shoe or lipstick on your teeth.
- Being comfortable in front of the camera. This is crucial. Often people say to me that I take a great picture, and it wouldn't be the same for them. I always disagree. An amazing image is less about beauty or being photogenic, in my opinion, and more about creating interest. An interesting image is much more captivating and memorable than one of simple beauty. And interest is something everyone has the capacity to induce.
So first, learning to be comfortable in front of the lens is key. The camera is incredibly discerning. It has a consistent and uncanny way of capturing fear in the eyes. If fear or self consciousness aren't the sentiments you are wishing to convey then this will definitely be a problem, and will ultimately make you less than happy with the final images.
- Know your angles, practice. I know is cringeworthy, but practising in the mirror has been key for me. Creating a back story in my head, putting on the outfits and learning what is a good and bad angle for me and the clothes I'll be wearing is incredibly helpful. This can also be time saving, confidence building and also money saving. Also ask a trusted friend to be honest with you about that face you always make when a camera is pointed your way. Is it flattering? And don't fib, You have a camera face. We all do.
- Leave enough budget to buy as many images as you can. You can expect to receive at least 5 to be included in the initial cost. 5 might sound stingy, but 5 amazing, retouched images can be used for so many things!
- Hopefully your photographer is great at editing and retouching. Otherwise consider hiring someone for this too. It can make all the difference:
- Negotiate for a gallery to be saved by the photographer so that if you would like to purchase more in the future then you can. Fresh images later in your campaign are so helpful and a money saver.
All this can seem expensive and alot of work, but great imagery and great music work hand in hand. Amazing imagery can boost interest and invite new listeners to click on a link and give your music a listen.
This is the same with video content which we will cover very soon.
Has this been helpful? Comment below. Artists share your tips too, what have you learnt from previous shoots that could help the rest of us?