Many of us have seen those awful headphone shots, those cheesy glamour photos, turntables unplugged and the awkwardly posed dj tangled up in cords. These high quality press-photos are often used for a multitude of promotional material from websites and flyers to swag and magazine interviews. But what if your don’t properly showcase your brand? You’ve seen those perfectly place shots with the headphone and think, “I could do that.” But when it comes to promotional pictures it’s easy to make the common mistakes other hopefuls have made. To organically incorporate your personality in your shots, let alone find the right photographer can prove to be a challenge. So I’ve set up some key tips on getting those pictures that leave a lasting impression, both of your brand and your personality. So let’s begin.
1. Know what you want (or at least have a good idea.)
Chances are when you walk into a tattoo shop, you’re going to want some examples of artwork to place on your body. You’re not going to expect the tattoo artist to KNOW what you want. Your promo shot ideas need just as much direction. You can bring clippings, show online photos and let them know what you’d like to incorporate from those photos in yours. (Ahead of the shoot date.)
“It is not simply enough to rely on the photographer for the ideas because in most cases the photographer does not know you. Once you build the rapport and work together a few times, then it is different, the photographer will have a better idea of your personality and style and can collaborate with you easier on your project.” – Aaron Kostiuk
2. Location, location, location.
“Often some of the best photos are the result of the photographer meeting up with the subject in a location that they’re familiar with such as an artist’s studio, a DJ’s practice space, a musician with their favourite instrument in their own jam space. No props supplied by the photographer, no locations that aren’t relevant to the subject. Simply discuss the desired end result, hang out, get comfortable, find the right lighting, point and shoot!” – Cam Nikkel from P&S Zine
Like Cam pointed out, don’t use locations or props that aren’t relevant to the subject (YOU!) Let the photo speak of your interests, which could be your favourite local shop or a park you often visit.
3. Sometimes Less is more.
Unless you typically show up at the club wearing a gold grill, banana hammock, loads of bling, while holding a blow up doll… you may want to ease up on the props. Think about what this photo says about YOU. “S/he is goofy, fun, seriously, polished or maybe a bit quirky.” These shots are used for a multitude of promo. Having at least a couple options for a graphic design to crop or edit at their desire make an easy choice for website artwork and flyers.
This also includes how many photos you put out. You don’t need to or even should share 15 photos of you in the same outfit, in the same area with a few different poses. Often photographers are taking 400-500 in a couple hour shoot. Many will only show you 4-5 really amazing shots in different outfits. Trust them to pick out the most flattering but don’t be afraid to work with them to find something you like. Numerous edits of the same looking photo is redundant. Again sometimes less is more!
4. Practice Your Poses.
“Come prepared and practice your angles and poses beforehand. I had one DJ say at the end of our shoot ‘I have more respect for models now.'” – Charmaine Mallari
The way you think your face looks when you make a pose, vs how it looks in the mirror is very different. Know your angle, but also trust the direction of your photographer as you go. And if the photographer finds a shot that work perfect, KEEP THE POSE until they tell you to move.
5. Communication with your photographer
It’s important both you and your photographer are on the same page about your ideas, while understanding your brand and what you’d like to portray.
“Your photographer’s goal should be to portray your personality and style to develop unique and dynamic photos. Communicating details about yourself along with your vision for the photos will go a long way in preparing the photos that tell your story.” – Given Ideas Photography
6. Know your photographer.
Like genres, there are numerous types of photographers. If your photographer specializes in glamour or fashion shots, it does not mean they are experienced in motion and underwater photography. Find someone that it the right fit for your ideal photos. Do your research.
“Don’t hire some just because they are your friend, hire someone that you know can deliver your vision.” – Charmaine Mallari
“Asking someone that does profile shots, to do live actions shots is like night and day. Make sure you’ve seen examples of someone’s work before you hire them. Are they a night club photography or fashion? Can they do both or specialize in one?” – Whiting Photography
7. Choose your outfits, hair style and makeup artist in advance.
Lastly, but just as important as the rest. Yes, I’m talking about you too guys. It’s totally normal for men to wear makeup and often do when it comes to t.v. and promotional photos. Think of hair, makeup and your outfits like “mastering your track.” You’ve got a great product, you just need to polish it off so you can let that track really stand out for what it is.
Bring a couple options for shirts, pants, shoes and even accessories. Depending on the setting one colour or pattern might work better in one background than the other.
Quick Hint: On a budget? Don’t your know foundation colour and aren’t ready to commit to a bottle of foundation girls/guys? Swing by a Sephora or Shoppers Drug Mart and ask one of the lovely attendants if they can help you find your colour and “test it out for the day,” as you are undecided. You might even find something you like. Many makeup stores will give you a full on makeover if you spend more than $40, or you can hire an artist.
(Check out The team to find my personal favourites to work with in hair and make up. )
Was this article helpful? Do you have any great tips? Maybe a funny story of how your shoot didn’t go as planned but ended up perfect! Let us know in the comments below.