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Many especially five-piece bands can't resist the temptation to form a V behind their frontman. The Foo Fighters are no exception, and the brick wall in the background is of course not to be missed. | Photo: Live Nation
Many especially five-piece bands can't resist the temptation to form a V behind their frontman. The Foo Fighters are no exception, and the brick wall in the background is of course not to be missed. | Photo: Live Nation
Tereza Karásková -

TOP 8 Greatest Clichés in Band Photography

Finally, you have the band of your dreams and while you're buzzing with excitement over a new beginning, you're wondering how to let the world know about you. Or maybe you're planning a new album, single, gigs... In any case, you'll soon find that photos are the key tool for band PR, right after the music itself. And as such, they have to look good... but how to achieve that?

We've compiled a list of the most unoriginal, bizarre clichés in band photography that are best avoided but which we all sometimes fall for.

1. Another brick in the wall

Musicians of all genres love brick walls for reasons that are completely incomprehensible. Band members lean casually against crumbling brickwork, ideally gazing dreamily into the distance (see point 2). If we assume that a PR photo is supposed to convey as much as possible about the band, in this case, we learn that the band met at least once to be immortalised here, in front of this wall.

When you're about to take a photo with the band in front of the nearest brick wall, try to think about why this place and not another. If the answer is "because we couldn't think of anything better" or "we saw it in the Foo Fighters photos", it might be worth thinking about it some more.

 Another brick in the wall. | Source:

2. Say "cheeese"

No, we're not really at a school photo shoot or a family reunion. We're musicians. There's no reason to look directly into the lens, a dreamy distant gaze is much more artistic... are you saying that you are somewhere else than your listeners, that you are aiming far and high? Either way, you're out of their reach. And when the band members are looking in different directions, it almost looks like each of them is heading somewhere else.

Lots of well-known bands do this, however, if you want to "connect" with your potential listeners, nothing works as well as eye-to-eye, i.e. straight into the lens.

Distant gaze. | Source:

3. Back to the woods

Unless your band is called Deerhoof, try to avoid taking photos in the woods or meadows. The reason is simple, nature as a background is usually very complex, full of details and contrasts that distract from what should be the main thing in the photo – you. If you find forests irresistibly appealing, opt for more detail and a shallower depth of field. All it takes is a few out-of-focus trees to make the viewer understand that you like being in the wild.

Back to the woods | Source:

4 . You must take the A train

The rails attract bands like a magnet, and not only those playing country or bluegrass, where you might expect it. One could perhaps argue that music is a journey, the tracks stretching into the distance symbolise creative freedom, etc., but these claims are probably as clichéd as the photos of bands on railway tracks themselves. You must be working hard to make your music unique, so leave the tracks to the railroaders and try to come up with something less corny that really makes you stand out.

You must take the A train | Source:

5. Brownfields

Especially for urban bands, decaying buildings, collapsing industrial complexes and abandoned backstreets are as attractive as railway tracks. The aesthetic impact of these places is unquestionable, but they pose the same problems for photographers as shooting in the woods... a chaotic background that distracts from the band. If you're going to head out to take promo photos somewhere on the outskirts of a big city, think first about what the message should be... why this abandoned warehouse? This factory hall? A crumbling church? Work more with the light and the atmosphere, remembering that the listener wants to see you first and foremost. Again, less is more. And when you're climbing rusty pylons trying to get the best band selfie, be careful!

Brownfields. | Source:

6. V formation

Many bands, especially five-piece bands, can't resist the temptation to form a V behind their frontman. Particularly bands of the harder genres fall for this endearing geometry because, in addition to its eye-pleasing symmetry, it also looks quite menacing, especially when backed up by harsh expressions or gestures. It's obvious that we're dealing with a tough bunch who stand by their leader and if you don't come to the gig, they'll take it out on you.

V formation | Source:

7. Fisheye

Do you remember grunge, the nineties, all those cool band photos through the fisheye? It's a great idea that bands have already made the most of. You're definitely heading "backwards" with this type of photography, so if your music is heading in the same direction, it only makes sense. But bear in mind that fisheye photography leaves a nagging feeling that we've seen this before.

Fisheye | Source:

8. Frontman... and the others

Do you know how to tell that a solo career is on the horizon? Yes, that's right, it's those photos of the frontman with the rest of the band somewhere in the back, blurry, bland... Most frontmen have an overwhelming sense of importance but try to tame them when taking photos, even if they are a sexy singer and the other members don't feel very sexy. A band photo is called a "band photo" because you want to present yourself as a band – a group making music together. Listeners will figure out for themselves pretty quickly who is "the one in the front" and it comes across better when the rest of the band don't just look like insignificant extras.

Frontman and the others | Source:

Final recommendation

Whether you finally decide to shoot your band with the fisheye in front of a run-down brick wall or something completely different, be yourself, don't be afraid to bring in a professional and don't take yourself and your "image" too seriously.

Few things work better than photos that capture your friendship and the joy of doing something you love. Because that joy is contagious, and if the viewer feels like he or she wants to belong to your musical crew, you've won.

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Tereza Karásková
The singer of the band Taste The Lemon, solo guitarist, songwriter and architect. For me, music is a space of absolute freedom and joy that I don't like leaving. It started with peaceful piano lessons a…