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Creating Music - Creating Photographs

Designer Mag published a post just the other day titled ‘Should You Bring Friends & Family To Gigs’.

It went on to discuss the basics of marketing, and the use of social media to spread the word about your band, and / or your music.

Being in a band is a business. Unless your doing it for fun, which is fine too!

This one’s for the guys who might want to step it up a level.

When you look at the big record companies, they’re in it to make money. When band’s get to that stage, they're going to make money. Money makes the world go round, let’s face it.

They’re the hard facts. They have a product that they are marketing to millions of people, the product being the band or the artist under the limelight, or YOU.

How you come across to record labels and talent scouts could be between getting noticed by a scout, and being ‘just another band’. I don’t necessarily mean in terms of on stage - Well, obviously you need to be doing something amazing to get scouted. But even online.

With thousands, wait, millions of people accessing the internet these days, you just don’t know who’s out there watching and listening to your sound. Just the other night at The Rubys gig, I got chatting to Mike (the bassist), his friend from New Zealand.

Turns out she saw my music photography project with The Rubys all the way over in New Zealand. Guys, that’s LITERALLY on the other side of the world. A whole 24+ hour ride away on a plane. And it gave me a reality check. That could be you, someone could be sat listening to your music in New Zealand, right this very moment.

As a photographer, I’m practising, practising, practising, working on diiffernt projects to hone my skill and my art.

As a musician, this is exactly what you guys are doing, your pouring your heart and soul into your music making, and that’s absolutely amazing, you deliver on stage, but then online I get a band follow me on Twitter, or on MySpace, and the profile photo is kinda....Not right?

Even worse, the profile photo on Twitter is different to the one on MySpace, and then another one on Facebook. It’s like a personality disorder! It comes across a tad messy. You have to brand yourself, and promote it across the board.

(Image above, same artist repping two different profile shots)

You have to have fun as a band, but if you want to be taken seriously, then you have to be taking it seriously too.

Where am I going with this?


Don’t get me wrong, a few years ago when I first started shooting music, I was working with couple of bands for free to build my portfolio. Not too many, 3 off the top of my head.

Striplight Butterflies, Shadow Riots and The Dirty Troubles. A shot captured at Striplight Butterflies gig is now standing proud backstage as part of an exhibition at Manchester Arena. The other two, well they were just practise practise practise, and of course meeting inspiring people.

The reason they were free was because I didn’t know what I was doing and I wanted to practise practise practise, and I wanted to practise on real people. I knew what I was doing with my camera, and had the visions in my head of how the photograph should look, but I needed to learn the directing aspect of it. I’m forever thankful for the opportunities to work with these guys. I was lucky in the sense that some of these guys gave me direction in how they wanted these photos to be taken, or the image they wanted to portray to potential fans, promoters, things like that.

Having a newbie photographer take photos of a newbie band is a catch 22 not only for bands but also photographers in the making.

Bands - You might not be getting the right creative to do the job - This isn’t to say that anyone working for free is crap - We all started somewhere - However, you need to have had some experiance, as a photographer, to be able to direct a shoot and deliver a concept or a vision. To have someone listen to your music with new ears, to meet you and discuss what your needs are visually and bounce ideas around. Especially in the early days when you may not have a ‘look’ to your band. Photograph’s for any sort of promotion work is going to be an important factor to deliver that visually.

As a photographer your shooting yourself in the foot - Again, we all must start somewhere, do your practise and then put a price on your work. Don’t rush into it - If your picking up a camera and want to make money overnight, sadly, your going to be disappointed. Your doing it for the wrong reasons. Remember, if your not confident in your work, should you be charging someone? This work may very well be published, are you happy for it to be in the public eye with your name on it? Am I pro? I don’t know. What I do know, is that I didn’t charge for a single shoot for the first 2 years I was shooting. I didn’t want to ruin my reputation before I even had one.

As a photographer, I get the feeling sometimes that bands don’t take themselves seriously. They go for the cheaper option of getting someone to ‘take some snaps’ for free instead of ‘recruiting a photographer who has vision and creativity to deliver a concept / look / feel in the form of art’.

Manchester has got some of the best photographers around. Up and Coming and also very established photographers.

I can’t speak for the established photographers, however I do know as a photographer my prices for photoshoots are affordable, more so for unsigned bands as I know what situation alot of bands are in when starting out. It’s pretty much the same situation that most businesses are in when they first started out, and pretty much the same situation as I was in when I first started out.

Photography is an INVESTMENT.

It’s a key componant to marketing yourself online and offline. Visually. Think about the flyers you may use to promote yourself, social networking sites, Sound Cloud profile shots, emails you may be sending out to record labels and promoters. It’s about being different and marketing yourself to these people so that they want to take notice of you. If your sending out samples of work via email - then you should still be attaching something Visual to it with the band on there somewhere.

Even more so if it’s physical copies. Remember these guys may not have heard you before, they don’t know who the hell you are, they’re recieving hundred, if not thousands of CD’s through and audio samples through. Ask yourself this, why should they pick your CD up and not the other band’s CD which is lying by it?

Bands, artists, musicians, make them want to pick YOUR music up, visually.

Photography can have such a HUGE impact. Just look around you

- How many times have you picked up a magazine or newspaper because of the photo on the front page
- Ever brought a DVD / CD because the album artwork looked good? ( I have! )
- A bottle of water how many times have you picked up the one with the better looking branding? ( Maybe i’m just weird like that ! )
- wait a minute, how did you start that conversation with your gf / bf - you thought they looked good to a certain extent right?

First impressions count!

I delivered a photoshoot today infact, with Rick Kevil. He’s been writing music for a while now, he’s just gone into the studio to record his EP. He’s invested time and money into the studio so that he can come out with a clean, professional EP. The Rubys did that last year too, they just did their first tour date to promote ‘Limelight Parasite’ their full length album.They just played for Designer Mag infact, at Dry Live. I went into the studio with them for around 6-8 weeks to visually document the whole journey, from pre-production through to the album launch, and then later, the signing to Affinity Ent.

Rick and I were talking about the EP and then we were discussing photography for the sleeve and so forth. I came home and edited a couple of the shots and sent them back to Rick. This is what he had to say about the change of mind in who did his photography.

“ In terms of 'creating' myself as an artist, I have always took every role involved, as a job for myself. But after working with professional sound engineers and photographers, I've realised why there are people who do just that as a job... And its because they are amazing at it. In particular, my latest photoshoot has even made me, look at... me, differently. In a really good way. This is because the photographer has used their creativity and eye for detail to enhance the project, which for me has made everything look fresh and exciting. In todays music industry, what I have learnt so far, is to collaborate with as many people as possible. To get their eye/ear on everything you do and your end product will appeal to more people than it could with just you or your band involved. Because at the end of the day music is a product “.

And on that note guys, I’ll leave you with these quotes.

In order to be irreplaceable, one must always be different - Coco Chanel

You don’t take a photograph - You make it - Ansel Adams

So whilst your doing what you love and what your great at, making music for us to hear, let us do what we’re great at - creating photographs. - Me!

Priti Shikotra - PSHIKOTRA Photography
Blog @ www.pshikotra.wordpress.com
Twitter @pshikotraphoto
FB www.facebook.com/pshikotraphoto

The Rubys - www.therubys.com
Rick Kevill - www.rickkevill.com (He’s in the process of updating those photos to keep it consistent!)


Editors Note: Having a good press photo and well written biog makes it easier for us, the promoter to market yourself to local radio / blogs / music magazines

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