Stay in focus: The importance of good band photography

Sheffield-based photographer Shelley Richmond with some pertinent advice for aspiring bands… 

I’ve been working as a professional photographer for five years or so, and over the years I’ve shot all sorts of stuff – from magazine editorials for local brands to weddings and private parties. I’ve also photographed a lot of bands and musicians, mainly contracted by magazines, promoters or venues, but rarely the band themselves. Alongside this, I do a little design work for venues hosting gigs, namely creating posters and flyers for their events, and nine times out of ten I’m given images that are such low quality they are frankly unusable. So, musicians, we need to talk about photography. About why you should invest in it and why a screengrab or download from Facebook is just not good enough…

Your band is awesome. You know it and your supporters know it. You sound great, you look great on the stage, you’re booking gigs left, right and centre; but in your media pack the images you supply are low-res phone shots, pulled from your Facebook page. You are letting yourself down. You are – literally – not presenting the best image of yourselves. You need polished, well-styled high-resolution images that you’d be proud to see promoted online and blown up in print. You don’t want to look like an 8-bit rendered human (unless that’s the look you’re really after).

We all live our lives through images. We consume them daily in vast quantities through social media. These images sell your service: your music and the experience you’re providing. These images are your brand. Think about your favourite brands for a moment… what is it that draws you to them? I guarantee a big part of it is the imagery they use, i.e. the way that they present themselves.

The good news is this: It’s a lot less expensive than you think, an investment of a few hundred quid (divided by all your band mates = bargain) can give you a set of images that will make your PR kit stand out, your social media look awesome and consistent, plus (with proper licenses) it could get you featured on blogs and in lovely magazines – like this one!

After you’ve got yourself a set of lovely PR images, you might want to think about investing a little more, like booking a pro to shoot an upcoming gig. Venues generally have a ‘first three songs’ rule in which time we have to shoot all the images needed to represent that gig. The good news is that means professional gig photographers work fast and can get you some awesome images in a small time frame (nine-minute job anyone?!), which means costs aren’t astronomical to book a pro to shoot a gig. Content is king when it comes to marketing and these photos are a powerful, versatile tools when it comes to self-promotion.

Finally, investing in professional images shows folk that you are serious about what you’re doing; if you don’t invest in yourself it’s hard to see why anyone else should…

Fancy a shoot with Shelley? Get in touch here.

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