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The Best Band Photos
By Brett McCarron

The Excuses Band (Kirk Glock photo)
Photo credit: Kirk Glock

Lots of photos on your band's web page make it fun for the visitor and keep them coming back to see what's new. Pictures are especially important if you're hoping to get paid for gigs, as they are the cornerstone of your band's promo kit that you should provide to booking agents, A&R execs, media contacts, etc. You might as well look like you're professional (even if you're just a hobbyist). Here are dozens of ideas to make your photos -- and your band -- stand out from the crowd.

  1. Bring a camera to every gig. And arrange for someone to take the photos while you play! If your photographer doesn't show up, your sound man, lighting tech, spouse, significant other, etc. can take the photos for you. In a pinch, the band members can take turns shooting candid pics of the other performers.

  2. If it's an important event, use two photographers. This is insurance in case one of the photographers doesn't show up, a camera malfunctions, or a photographer doesn't know what the hell he's doing. It's much better to have twice as many photos to choose from than to have no photos at all!

  3. Use fresh batteries. Fresh batteries will not only give you more available shots, but they won't take as long to recover in between shots while the flash is 'charging' up. A camera with a dead battery is pretty much worthless (unless your photographer has spare batteries and knows how to change them).

  4. Ask the photographer not to zoom in on every shot. You can crop the photos with software (such as PhotoShop) afterwards. This helps ensure that the photographer doesn't cut off heads or other important aspects of the photo. The flip side is that your photographer doesn't try to shoot the stage from 50' away. The flash just won't reach that far, and you'll have a dark, wasted photo instead of something you could have used.

  5. Give credit where credit is due. Especially true when you're using a volunteer photographer. Put a small credit underneath each photo, or at the bottom of the web page, to identify who took the photo. It not only makes you appear more professional, but it's a nice gesture (that doesn't cost you anything). [see also #21]

  6. Spend a few minutes with the photographer to go over the highlights of your show. If you have any flashy production numbers, or crowd favorites that always pack the dance floor, pass that information on so the photographer has something to work with. Fog effects, flash pots, choreography, lasers -- make sure they get photographed.

  7. Put your name on it. If you provide your own camera, be sure your name is on it. Use a portable label maker to print out a durable, easy to read label. This also applies to your instruments. If someone in the audience should find your camera after the gig, they at least have enough information to return it to you. And if you find it, you can prove it's yours.

    Experts recommend using two labels. One in a very visible location to make it easy for an honest person to find. The second label is placed in an inconspicuous area, such as behind a control plate, battery cover, inside the lens cap, etc. This protects you from the dishonest person who removes the obvious label, then claims the piece of gear is theirs. If you're sure the equipment is yours, get a third party, such as the club owner, a bouncer, or even the police, to mediate the dispute. Tell the third party that you have not even touched the equipment, yet you know it is yours because you placed a hidden label on it. Since the thief won't know what the label says, or where it is, you'll be able to prove that it's indeed your gear.

  8. Take photos during the soundcheck. This is important if you're using a non-professional photographer. You give the photographer some practice time with your camera. When you review the photos, you get a chance to offer suggestions to the photographer. If the soundcheck songs are part of the regular set list, when they are played later in the evening, the photographer has already had a chance to 'practice' on them and can perfect the shots so they look perfect. Of course, after the soundcheck is also a great time to either download the photos to a laptop, switch the removable memory for a fresh card, or delete any photos that aren't up to par.

  9. Smile! If you look like you're having fun, then chances are it'll be a better photo. Prospective clients want to ensure a fun time for their event, so they naturally want to book a fun band. One way to smile is to remember the punchline of a funny joke. Catch the eye of the nearest bandmember and grin -- they'll grin back, and that helps make it look like everyone's having a great time.
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