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Music Band Photography

Working as a music photojournalist can be very rewarding and a great way to develop skills in demanding situations. This simple 15 step guide aims to give you an insight into the world or music photography, both for promo portrait shots and in a live setting.

Step 1 - Finding a Band

There are always bands looking for photographers for promo shots, so all you have to do is make sure they find you! It's pretty much a given that a band has a MySpace page or website, hopefully with contact details, which will enable you to offer your services. You can either search for bands in your locality or artists that take your fancy and would be interesting to work with. It's great to work with young bands as they'll be excited by the prospect of a photo shoot and want to do something exciting. On the other hand, bands with a higher status will be able to showcase your work to a larger audience.

Step 2 - Organisation and Payment

Once you've got the job, ensure that you communicate with your clients. Bands aren't always great at maintaining correspondence, so try to organise the time, date and location well in advance.

It is also important to organise payment at this point. The majority of smaller bands won't have a lot of cash to spend and if you're just starting out, it is hard to charge significant amounts. At the least, ensure they cover your costs. Once you've built up a positive reputation, you may feel more confident in charging the bands you work with, especially if you're trying to make a living from it!

Step 3 - What Is the Shoot For?

Artists will always need photos for general use on the web and press articles, but there can be a specific need for photographs - possibly a record insert or a particular magazine article. If this is the case, it is important to ensure you know exactly what the requirements are. If the shot is for a specific magazine it may need to be a certain shape or size on the page, or if it's the cover, there may need to be space for the magazine name across the top. It is also important to know if there are any requests from the bands management or PR company. You don't want to be spending time on a shoot, just to find out that it's not what the people in charge wanted!

Step 4 - Develop a Theme

Depending on the purpose of the shoot, you will need to develop a theme. When communicating with the band, put forward some suggestions of concepts and ask them to think about the type of images they'd like. Some bands prefer rather standard (and possibly cliched) shots of themselves wearing their favourite clothes in an industrial estate, but try to be more imaginative and try something new. Props and costumes can work well and often the lighting and location offer a significant amount of interest. Try to create something unique that will mean both you and your clients will get noticed.

Step 5 - Find a Location

Location is all-important when working with an artist. For shots that require clean backgrounds and a sole focus there is always the studio option, but it is far more interesting to find a location that will help to enforce the band's image and style. Once again, ask the band whether they have any ideas of accessible places which they think might work, but be sure to think up a few of your own options.

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