What type of photos should a musician get?

For musicians, there’s nothing quite like capturing those special moments. Whether it’s onstage, in the studio, or just jamming, it’s an incredible feeling.

While it’s the music that matters most, there’s no denying the power that photography plays in a musician’s career. Case and point:

When you think about The Beatles, you see the famous Abbey Road shot.

When you think about Fleetwood Mac, you see the iconic Rumours album cover.

But it’s tricky to know what photos you need and even trickier to capture them. Luckily, you’re in the right place. We’ve put together this quick guide to the types of photos musicians should get, with great examples from fantastic music photographers.

Featured photo by London-based music photographer Joan Payà

1. Get live performance shots

Music & Performing arts Photographer Tower Hamlets London
This live performance shot by Joan Payà perfectly captures the atmosphere of the gig.

As a musician, there’s no alternative for shots of your live performances. They capture the essence of you as a musician and give your fans (and potential fans) an idea of the vibe of your performances.

You should try to get as many live shots as you can because you can use them a whole host of different things including album and single covers, social media posts, marketing materials and press kits.

But getting them right on your own isn’t a walk in the park. You usually end up with a bit of a blurry mess as the movement and lights make it tricky to catch properly. Professional music photographers like Joan Payà know exactly how to get the best photos. They’ve got the skill, experience and equipment to take photos that properly capture the atmosphere and energy of you on stage.

2. Take more staged photos

Performing arts & Portrait Photographer Sheffield South Yorkshire
Staged photos like this one of Gilmore Trail, a Sheffield-based rock band by Chris Saunders can be used for loads of different purposes.

While live performance shots are fantastic for showing the energy of you and/or your band, it’s great to get more staged shots as well. Whether it’s in the recording studio, your mate’s basement where you first practised, or somewhere that means a lot to you, you can use the photos for a massive range of purposes.

When you’re taking more posed photos, try to get as many different shots as possible. The shot above by Chris Saunders is dark and moody and perfect for gig posters and album art but might not be quite right for other things. So, try to get a mix and don’t forget to get candid shots in-between the posed ones (more on that shortly).

Taking posed photos can sometimes feel a bit forced but if you hire a professional music photographer, they’ll put you at ease in front of the camera and make sure you get shots you’re happy with.

Make sure you’ve got portraits

Dani Riot music photography
Portraits are a great way to show off your personality as a musician as shown by these fantastic shots by London-based photographer Dani Riot.

It might not be the first thing you think of when you consider photos for your music career, but every musician needs professional portraits for press kits, interviews, and social media profiles.

These photos are often the first impression people get of you, so they need to be polished and representative of your personal or band brand. They should show off your personality and match your music style.

Professional photographers like Dani Riot have the experience and skills to take high-quality portraits that make a strong and lasting impression, helping you stand out in press materials and online profiles.

Get behind-the-scenes and candid shots

Music & Performing arts Photographer Tower Hamlets London
Candid and behind-the-scenes shots give your fans a digital backstage pass, like in this shot by Joan Payà.

One of the best ways to catch the attention of new listeners and keep your fans coming back is to come across as authentic and genuine. Candid and behind-the-scenes shots are a quick and easy way to show people how real you are.

These types of shows help you to show your passion for the music and the camaraderie between you and your bandmates. Think about some of your own favourite musicians and the images that spring to mind. Some of the most authentic shots of musicians have been completely unplanned — Bob Dylan having a cup of tea after a gig in Manchester, Bowie sharing a beer with The Clash’s bass player Paul Simonon at Shea Stadium… — it feels like you’re getting exclusive access.

Having a professional photographer around for gigs, recording sessions, and practice is a massive help for catching those one-off, candid moments that your fans will really appreciate.

Think about album and single covers

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This shot by Suzanne Bainton was used by Drum and Bass Mc duo Starz ‘n’ Deeza for an album cover, flyers, and posters for social media and Spotify.

The music industry has changed a lot with an influx of new platforms that let musicians release new music whenever they want. So whenever you’re taking photos of you and/or your band, have album and single covers in the back of your mind.

All of the different types of photos we’ve run through in this blog have the potential to be your next album cover. So whether you’re getting live shots, studio portraits, or taking behind-the-scenes photos, you might stumble across gold you can use for album art down the line.

And don’t put too much pressure on planning your covers — The Beatles spent months planning the album art for Everest (which became Abbey Road) only to ditch it all and get a photo crossing the road outside the recording studio.

Level up your music photos with the help of a professional music photographer

Jerry Tremaine music photography
Professional music photographers like Jerry Tremaine have the skills and equipment to take incredible photos that stand out to fans, both new and old.

While you can undoubtedly get music photos without the help of a professional, it’s not easy. Live shots usually end up being blurry, over/under-exposed, and candid, while studio shots can seem too posed.

Hiring a professional music photographer means you’ll get a huge range of photos that you love and can use for a massive range of purposes, from social media posts to gig posters and album covers.

And it’s easy to find a photographer that suits your style. Simply:

  1. Take a look through our music photographers
  2. Look at their portfolios
  3. Get in touch with photographers and book shoots directly through our site.

Good luck with your next shoot, and we can’t wait to see (and hear) what you do next!