Like many things relating to your album release plans, there’s no one right way to go about getting press photos done. Whether you choose to ask a friend to snap a photo or two for you as a favour the next time you’re all in the same room, or contract a professional photographer to stage a perfectly art directed photo for you, will depend largely on what you need and what you have to spend. That said, if you’re applying for a grant that allows it, make sure to remember to claim press photo expenses so that you can indeed hire someone.
In either case, however, there’s some things to keep in mind:
° Deliverables: always make it clear what you expect to get from your photo session. At minimum, I would suggest setting a goal of selecting three final hi-res photo files from the complete set of photos taken, two of which are to be landscape orientation and one of which is portrait. This gives you various options to send to press.
° Usage: always be up front with the photographer about how you intend to use the photos. The base level would be for press/promotional purposes (i.e. sending to media to print or publish alongside articles, to use on your own social media to promote your band, etc.). However, you may want to use these photos in the album design, whether the cover or insert, or even to make a t-shirt design with. While some photographers feel they are being hired to deliver photos for you and it’s up to you what you do with them, others will have different rates depending on if you intend to use them for commercial purposes. Like everything, it’s best to be clear up front to avoid awkward conversations later.
° Creative vision: just like the conversation with your engineer before recording, it’s worth having a chat with your photographer ahead of time about what you want to portray in your photos, and what’s realistic. What kind of band are you, what are you trying to convey, do you have reference material from other band shoots you’d like to draw inspiration from, etc.
Below are two examples of approaches my own bands took. For Self-Cut Bangs, we approached Heather Saitz with reference images from Blondie and Abba that featured backlit, solid black background approaches that we wanted to mimic in order to re-frame our band as a little more serious on the sophomore album.
Photos: Heather Saitz
By contrast, Napalmpom never hired a professional photographer for a photo shoot, instead feeling that live captures did the best job of explaining what the band was all about.
Photo: Cole Hofstra
In either case, having hi-res images at the ready is pretty key for your promotional purposes.