written by Justin McMillin
Hey Content Creators, a great question was brought to us about shooting promo or portrait photos for bands. Shooting portraits of touring bands is a great way to diversify your work and show your versatility as a photographer.
So here are 4 ways that have worked for me:
1. Contact local or independent press publications:
Reaching out to local or independent press publications is probably your best bet at shooting portraits of a band or artist when they’re in town. Publications will give you legitimacy and connections that you might not be able to obtain on your own (we are also planning on reaching out to press publications to partner with us to make it easier for you guys to shoot more shows in your area, stay tuned for that!)
I took this route when shooting portraits for No Vacation in Austin, Texas. It was a fun experience and I actually received a contact from the band. We kept in touch throughout the year, and now I am invited to shoot their shows when they roll through Texas.
2. Reach out to the band or the band's management team:
Another route you can take is contacting the band or the management team directly, (you can usually find their contact information on their facebook page or website) and see if they're interested in promo/ portrait shots.
This direction is probably the toughest, especially when you don’t have an established relationship with the band. But hey, you never know and it might just work. The answer is always "No" if you don't ask.
3. Go to their show, and if they hang around before or after their set, politely ask to take their picture:
Sometimes catching a band before their set, or waiting until after they greet all of their fans can work. Remember, be polite when you ask and understand they might not want to take portraits. If they’re up for it, be prepared and land a good shot. You don't want to take up too much of their time.
I’ve gained success by taking this direction. I’ve snagged a couple of photos of Pale Waves after a set, as well as some portraits of Remo Drive before one of their shows here in Dallas. Austin was also able to film their show that day as well, so it worked out for all of us. Here's the video he made for Remo Drive.
PS - Stephen and Erik are some of the kindest people we've ever met. They've showed us nothing but support and respect since we met them back in November of 2017 when they toured with Hippo Campus.
4. THINK LOCAL
If you really just want the practice, local bands are almost always open to it, and it's an incredible way to learn what to do and what not to do when shooting a band's portrait. Shooting local will also be its own article soon, so keep an eye out for that!