Unsigned bands often have trouble with a single area in their repertoire; promotional photos. After months of hard work recording an album, who wants to put any effort or funds into image? People should just recognize the music, right? Not so. Your image is a direct extension of your music, and if you can’t think of good ideas, you need to outsource.
The following is an excerpt from “Your Band Is A Virus“.
For photos, there should be plenty of amateur, yet professional and ambitious photographers in your area who are looking to photograph bands and are happy to provide you with the high quality photos in return for credit (Photo taken by___), or a small fee. Sometimes student photographers will take pictures of bands free, simply for experience or word-of-mouth promotion. With the improvement of quality of digital cameras, photos can also be done yourself or by someone in your circle of friends. Even iPhones and Android Smartphones have such advanced built-in cameras that they both take great shots – just make sure the photographer knows what they are doing. Try to do something eye catching and original with your band promo shots, but keep it professional.
Remember, these will represent you on your website, and also be used in the media when you are interviewed, reported on or reviewed. Taking photos on your cell phone or cheap camera is not going to cut it. Hire someone who is serious about photography and trying to build their portfolio (hint: they will give you a deal.)
Where to look? It’s simple. Craigslist. Everything you can think of is true on Craigslist. Be sure to check their online portfolios first, though, and don’t just take their word for it that “they’re good” or experienced. The same goes for video directors.
Another important tip about getting photos for your band – Take it seriously and dress appropriately. This doesn’t necessarily mean you need to wear a suit. You must make it suit your music though. Consider the band photos you see from the millions of bands flooding the market today. Jeans and t-shirts, right? It’s up to you, but the “show up in your street clothes” approach just doesn’t seem like an eye-catching option anymore in today’s option-overloaded marketplace – unless that’s really your image at heart.
The band’s that will stand out in the new marketplace are often the ones who have an image, who take risks. The ones who are daring enough to be different will succeed. Whether this means that your band dresses up in army fatigues, Alice in Wonderland costumes, crimson robes, suits, tribal attire, masks, or zombie makeup, you have got to do something to stand out in the crowd. Think about it this way. How would you dress to your sister’s wedding? How would you dress if you were to have a meeting with your idol? How about if you were to perform a work of art that is very dear to you?
If music is unimportant to you – stop! If it IS important to you, discard your subconscious negativities and give it the respect it deserves. Dress appropriately. Now this may be an extreme example, but I was perusing a local music magazine this morning. It seemed every independent band I came across were posing in alleys, lying in a field, trying on animal masks, or pushing each other around in a shopping cart with big smiles on their faces. Guess how many of these bands intrigued me? I assumed right away that their music was subpar and lazy, just like their image.
Then I came across a feature article on the metal band Behemoth. Even if I did not listen to metal, I would admit it’s an extremely effective image, and I might just listen to their music out of curiosity. Please keep in mind, this is only one possibility out of limitless possibilities, so I’m not telling you to jack Behemoth’s image. Do your own, but whatever you do, do it with the same vigor and intensity, yeah?
Want some other ideas? Below are some great promotional photos from Independent Music Promotions artists, both past and present. All of these artists are unsigned.