Thursday, October 27, 2011

Picture Perfect Part II

Promotional photos are a huge component of marketing and branding, whether you are an artist branding yourself, or you are a business owner branding your company.  It's necessary to have just the right photos to effectively market your music, your service or your product and convey the message you're trying to send.

Last year, I wrote a blog about some of the biggest mistakes I see that people (especially recording artists) make when having photos done (see below for an excerpt of that blog).  But in addition to those mistakes, you may need to ask yourself if you are making the mistake of relying on the same photos year after year.

For business owners such as myself, it may make sense to have one dynamic photo that catches your market's eye and becomes synonymous with your business name, but you also need to have a few additional photos for various other purposes, whether it's a head shot to be used for professional purposes or a photo that illustrates a specific media story on you or your business.  For recording artists, it's especially important to have new photos done either every year or every other year, whether or not you're coming out with a new album.  Doing so shows your audience that you're remaining current and have something new to say with your music.  Do you have something new to say?  Is it time to do so by updating those old photos with newer ones?

Also, it's important that you only use professional photographers for these types of photos (not friends who tell you they can do just as good of a job as a professional, unless they happen to already be professionals).  If both you and your photos look professional, then the more professional publications are likely to print stories about you.  If you can only provide amateur-looking photos to a professional publication, your story will probably get edited right out of their publication since they too have an image to maintain.  The higher caliber the publication, the higher caliber the photos they print.  Doesn't it give you and your business or your music more credibility if you can get in those higher caliber publications?  Don't risk missing out on good publicity just because of a lack of professional photos!

Excerpt from "Picture Perfect"
I've seen too many promo photos of performers where the person has obviously bought a new outfit for the photo shoot, but the outfit is all wrong. Either the outfit was too big, too small, not the right color, not the right type of clothing for the purpose of the photos, or not the right clothing for the backdrop. At this point, money has already been spent on clothing and the photographer, and the performer is not happy with the results. Often times the performer will either settle for a less-than-stellar publicity photo that doesn't look dynamic, or will try again which means another payment for photographer/photos, and probably even more money spent on new clothing.
An image consultant/stylist can work with the performer before the photo shoot to help determine the appropriate look for the shoot and the appropriate sized clothing for the performer that shows off his or her assets and hides his or her flaws.

During a photo shoot, backdrops vary and change frequently. Not every look/outfit will work with every backdrop. That's why it's important to take several outfits to the shoot and to have the image consultant/stylist on hand to determine which outfit goes best with which backdrop and which accessories need to be changed out, to make sure clothing is fitting properly, and to make any necessary adjustments to the clothing (tucking, pinning, etc.) for a flawless look.

After the photo shoot, the performer will probably be required to select only a few pictures from up to 500 frames/shots. This can be very overwhelming, and if he or she lacks an eye for detail, the performer could very well end up overlooking the very best shot and choosing one that's not as good. An image consultant will look at the emotion in the face to determine if it's the right emotion needed to convey the appropriate message, will look at what the clothes are doing in the photo (how they are laying, what effect they are creating for the body, etc.), and will look at the posing and camera angles to determine if they are making the subject of the photo look too short, too wide, or too anything!

A perfect example of this is when I was going through some photos from a client's photo shoot to find just the right full-length shot. There were two pictures that were nearly exactly alike, and she really wanted to use one of those pictures. I showed her why she should choose the other picture that was nearly the same instead of the one she was interested in. The one I had suggested had a very small amount of space between her right arm and her torso, just enough to show the curve in her waist and make her waist look smaller than it did in the other picture where there was no space between her arm and torso.

Another example is when I worked with a client who had two head shot photos that were nearly alike except for the tilt of his head and the expression of his face. In the picture I chose, the tilt and expression was more consistent with the honest, sincere look and feel he was going for compared to the other picture. The difference between the two pictures was ever so slight, but made all the difference in the world for the message he was trying to convey. It's those little details that make a big difference.

A good image consultant can also assist you in finding a good photographer, hairstylist, and/or makeup artist. So when it comes to getting a perfect picture for your promotional photos, don't make the mistake others make. Be prepared by investing in this type of expertise so you won't have to spend more money again later. You won't be sorry!
paNASH Style client CrossTie - photo from 1st year's photo shoot styled by paNASH

paNASH Style client CrossTie - photo from 2nd year's photo shoot styled by paNASH

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