Shooting Bands Promo Pictures! (My Process)

I decided to write this blog from a bit of a different angle than things that we usually produce, but still in the format of providing information. I want to take everyone through my personal process of what I do when taking pictures for a bands for promotional purposes. Note also that these are all things that I am personally doing at this moment in time, I think when it comes to things like this there is no wrong or right way to approach them, and my style will eventually stray from what i'm doing now, I just simply want to share how I attack these things in hopes that it will benefit others.

 

1. Preperation:

The first thing that I like to do is start with a little bit of research of the band that I'll be shooting with (assuming I'm not already familiar with their line-up). By this I mean seeing what style of promos they've done in the past, how many members are in the band (so I can begin to think about placement of each member), and what kind of location might best suit this bands particular style based on their sound/look/etc.

ex.) This picture I took of All Clear Kid, because their band only consists of two members it was interesting to be able to make use of things you wouldn't be able to do with say a 5 piece band, which is where the use of these stairs came in to be able to place both of them on a narrow stair-way,

2. DON'T be too picky about location!

This is a point that I can't stress enough because I myself am guilty of getting in my own head about pondering for way too long what the most interesting photo location might be. I think not only professional photographers but anyone that's ever taken a picture in general can relate to this point when one of your favorite photos that you've ever taken wasn't exactly in some extravagant location. Countless times it has occurred that once I'm in the editing process that a location I was shooting in the moment didn't seem like it would produce something amazing, but ended up being one of the best of the shoot. In conclusion of this point, don't be too romantic about where you're shooting, it could be in a grocery store parking lot where you find the perfect angle of a blooming bush of flowers and you're able to place everyone just right in front of it where the end product no one would ever know that it was indeed in a grocery store parking lot. I believe that these moments are what also help us grow as photographers.

3. Placement:

I believe this point to be the most tricky of them all. Mostly because like I stated earlier in the post, there isn't a set way that any one photographer is supposed to go about this, it all varies by what you think looks good in the moment. There are many factors to consider when deciding where to place each member including your surrounding, the height of each band member, what lens you're using, how many members are in the band (10? Slipknot?) and etc. This is a photo I think about a lot (someone please correct me if i'm wrong) Bring Me The Horizon shot by Ashley Osborne.

I think this photo gives an excellent example of some of the things i'm attempting to cover here making use of the slope of the pool to place taller members on the down slope and shorter members near the shallow end. With the end result being everyone generally being the same height (obviously it's not perfect) but I think with time these become attributes to use in your favor towards taking a unique photo and also becoming better at your craft.

This is a photo that I also used the slope of the natural hill to bring the taller members towards the left of the photo and shorter closer to the top of the hill on the right. Another method that I like to use when trying to place height differences and is another way of getting creative with your placements is to stage taller members further back while still having them lined up in frame.

4. Build A Relationship:

This is a point that I believe to be true with any style of subject photography. Anything that I've ever done in life that required the cooperation or working together of a group project, the better everyone gets along and and allowing the free-flowing energy of ideas to come to surface the better end result it is for everyone involved. By saying this I don't believe you have to be best friends with the band you're going to be taking pictures with, the real point I'm trying to make is a little bit of friendliness and communication before the shoot goes a long way. An example of how I like to approach this is to get a group chat going with any of the members that are willing to be involved in the creative process. This step not only shows that you give a shit and are reaching out, but also lets everyones voice be heard and the ability to bounce ideas back and forth, to which a cool location or things of that nature might come about. This is a photo I took of Thousand Below while filming their music video in Santa Cruz, while this picture is clearly more spur of the moment than a predetermined photo shoot, these are all friends I've held for many years, which always makes not only the process itself more enjoyable, but I think it displays itself in final product as well.

5. HAVE FUN!

As cliche as it is to say, if you're not enjoying what your doing then why do it at all? I think of photo sessions as my hobby that I'm always trying to improve and to eventually build myself up to incorporate my passion for what I love in to a sustainable career. Therefore I never try to take this things too seriously and make sure the fun factor is always still involved. Thank you all for taking the time to read some of these things I've learned along the way, in the future i'd love to go much more in depth on some of my photo shoots that would include videos of the sessions themselves talking through the process and eventually take everyone through my post production with the editing as well. Also if anyone is curious about my gear or editing software that I use I would love to make a post going in depth about that. If that's something you guys would enjoy seeing let me know!

-Conner James

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