May 22, 2022

Take better musician portraits with these tips

If you shoot portraits at all I can nearly ensure that youll get asked at some point by an artist to have actually some images taken. Whether youre a professional or an amateur it doesnt seem to matter. Musicians are usually hungry for photos and require a constant carousel of images for their promotion and social media.

Its not always that uncomplicated to take an excellent shot of an artist. And normally, they do not simply need action shots of them playing, they need a mixture of headshots, shots with the instrument, full-body shots, atmospheric shots, and frequently shots that would deal with an album cover, even in todays age of digital music downloads. In this video, artist and photographer Pete Coco provides his pointers for taking remarkable pictures of musicians.

Now like Pete, Im also an artist, have a music degree and have been playing and carrying out given that the age of 6. Music was in reality, the factor I entered into photography in the first location. From filling the leisure time while on trip to taking promo shots for my good friends and coworkers it was a very gradual shift from being a full-time artist to becoming a full-time professional photographer (with a lot of difficult work and study no less!). I have continued to photo and film musicians to this day, so I was extremely curious to hear what Pete had to say.

Start with headshots

Pete likewise states that many musicians dont have a great headshot of simply their faces. They typically have images of them holding their instruments which naturally then need to be somewhat pulled back to fit that in.

Pete says he always starts with headshots for both useful and creative reasons. Pete says that focusing initially on just the face assists him to determine which angles they look good from, and he can coach them on expression. Unlike models and actors, musicians are typically rather uneasy in front of the video camera. They do need the self-confidence boost of a little (or a lot!) of direction from the photographer. Because much of their work includes a degree of acting, singers are usually a little much better at knowing how to act in front of the lens. Generally, I find that musicians are like photographing anybody in this respect.

This is a pianist. There was no need to consist of the piano in every shot as its such a big instrument we wouldnt see her face all right.

Artist initially, medium second

In this image, I wished to inform more of a story about the group, instead of simply having a standard group shot.

Many artists actually have more than one imaginative outlet, and artists are no exception to this. Some play numerous instruments, some compose music or arrange or are involved in video and electronic mediums. Its no different from visual art, so you must represent this appropriately, and not just have every photo be about the instrument, but about the artist.

The instrument is not a prop

I wished to reveal a sense of motion, a strolling bassline so to speak!

Well, the instrument ought to be an important part of the composition and not just a prop. He states it needs to have equivalent status to the artist and neither end up being more or less crucial. The other challenging thing is getting the instrument to look natural if its being held by the artist.

The other thing that I do is I make sure I never choose up or touch the instrument. These instruments are often very old, extremely delicate, have actually been made particularly for the artist, and frequently are exceptionally expensive. It wasnt up until afterwards that I discovered that the instruments were on loan to the musicians and jointly worth $3 million!

Its exceptionally important that you let the artist interact with their instrument in as natural a way as possible, especially if they are playing it. Great attention to information is placed on apparently little details for instance embouchure and how string gamers hold the bow. If you make adjustments to these things then you could run the danger of making a skilled artist appear like a beginner.

Get in close

Due to the fact that hes primarily a headshot professional photographer he enjoys to get in close and focus on the face, Pete states. I do believe these images can be appealing and incredibly important, nevertheless, I would counter that there is a requirement for drew back shots also in a musicians image gallery. But stating this, Pete does have a terrific point because you dont have to show the entire instrument all the time in every shot. Consisting of a little portion of say a guitar or simply the scroll of a cello still understands across that they are an artist, and can assist position the images focal point back onto the human topic.

You can not see the entire instrument in the focus but this shot is clearly on the face and the happiness the artist has from playing.

You dont require them to play the instrument

This artist is both a cellist and a vocalist. I desired the cello to point directly to her mouth to highlight that.

Sometimes someone will request for playing shots, and this is when you can push yourself to be a bit more innovative. How about a top-down shot over the keyboard for a pianist? Or a truly low angle that makes the double bass look much more enforcing? Or how about shooting outside at sunset under a street lamp?

Pete is appropriate here, and frequently times playing positions look stiff and a bit odd. Typically times an artist will twist their face when they are playing, or a vocalist will have a wide-open mouth (never the best appearance!).

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In this video, musician and professional photographer Pete Coco gives his ideas for taking amazing pictures of musicians.

The other challenging thing is getting the instrument to look natural if its being held by the artist. Its extremely essential that you let the artist connect with their instrument in as natural a way as possible, particularly if they are playing it. These instruments are often really old, extremely vulnerable, have been made particularly for the musician, and frequently are incredibly pricey. Professional musicians are like professional athletes, albeit with the small muscles of the hands, fingers and, depending on the instrument, lips and feet.

This is a playing shot, however made more fascinating from the uncommon angle and the architecture of the roof. The acoustics were incredible!

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Its not every day you discover a jazz french horn gamer. This was a nod to the NYC jazz greats.

Professional musicians are like professional athletes, albeit with the little muscles of the hands, fingers and, depending on the instrument, feet and lips. Its a wonderful thing to be able to reveal this devotion and strength in an image.

Another trick that you can utilize if you want some artistic playing shots is to ask to play things in a really a little various way to develop the effect that you want. Movement blur can look truly terrific for drummers or string gamers, however you will need to take some time with them to experiment with the speed of movement and how far they are moving. You might require them to either limitation or exaggerate the movement to develop the desired impact. In this case, I would always reveal the images to the artist throughout the procedure to double-check that they enjoy with how everything looks. Its no various from photographing a ballet dancer, they understand their strategy and what looks proper in an image. Just ask, they are the professional.

Fundamentally, it is an absolute opportunity to deal with other artists, and photographing musicians is an extremely unique thing to do. You usually get to hear some remarkable music, frequently getting your own personal show while doing so. I enjoy to hear what projects they have showing up, where theyve been performing recently, and any new inspiration theyve had.

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One example that I had recently was for a harmonica player. The harmonica is possibly the worst instrument to shoot while someone is in fact playing it because its packed right up close to the face and both the face and instrument are completely concealed by the players hands. In the end, we utilized the amplifier as a prop and merely had the artist holding the harmonica in his hand in a casual sort of way.