As an independent artist, it’s important to get to know professionals in the industry. This post is the first in a series of interviews with pros in the music industry. First, meet photographer Rick Wenner, who shares some tips about working with music photographers.
Q: What is the most important thing an indie musician should consider when choosing a photographer?
A: If you want to be thought of as a professional you always want a quality product, no matter what it is you are investing in. Whether it be a guitar, amp, recording equipment or a photographer. Spend the time to research photographers and figure out what you like as far as the style of photography. Check out magazines and websites to see what others are doing. Be willing to spend a few extra bucks for a professional photographer because you will get your money’s worth. If you go for “the cheap guy” you will also get your money’s worth — and that’s not always a good thing. Just remember that your promo photo can make for a great first impression if your music hasn’t been heard yet.
Q: Budget is often a concern for artists that are just starting out. What can they do to cut down on photo costs but still end up with a professional product?
A: As I said, you could look for the cheap photographer but I think you’re going to sacrifice quality for the price. If you’re willing to spend the money on being a professional musician make sure you are seen that way as well as heard that way. A photographer’s price isn’t just for picking up a camera and pressing a button. There’s a lot of planning that is involved in a professional shoot. There’s also studio rentals, location fees, equipment, editing and retouching after the shoot, assistants, stylists, and plenty of other factors involved.
Q: This is my first photo shoot: what are three things I need to know about being in front of the camera?
A: I get this a lot, where I am working with a first timer and they are uncomfortable and anxious about the shoot. Remember that you are working WITH the photographer and he/she is there to help you get the best photos you can get. Usually the first 10 minutes or so of a shoot are a feeling out process for both sides. My client is getting used to having the camera pointed at them and being the center of attention and I’m seeing how you react to things I say, how my lighting looks and other factors involved in the shoot. If you like a certain type of music to help you feel comfortable, then I’ll play it on set or in studio. It’s all about making sure you are comfortable, loose and participating in the shoot. I will also allow friends to come along if that helps you. And there’s also the bar to help loosen up.
Q: How important is my photo in conveying my overall brand and image? How do I find a photographer that understands my vision?
A: It’s very important to have the right photo for your brand and image. If you choose a photographer who only shoots country music and has a bright, sunny and fun look to all his or her photos that style isn’t going to work very well for a death metal band. Find the photographer who fits your style of music and your personality as a musician.
In order to find the photographer who is going to understand your vision, just shop around and have a conversation with photographers whose work interests you. You will know who is right for you after talking with them for a little while. There are a lot of “used car salesmen” types out there in this photography industry who are just looking to make a quick dollar and tell you what you want to hear. Find someone who you get along with and like their photos and you are good to go.
Above all find a photographer whose work is top quality and who you get along with. Don’t be afraid to spend a few extra dollars when it comes to how people will see you. Quality always wins.
For more information about Rick:
Tell us what you think! Have you ever worked with a professional photographer? What was your experience? Any other tips you’d add?
Up next: Planning is key: create a strategy that will extend the life of your album release!
The SongCast Crew