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Photography Part Two: The Dos and Don’ts of Promotional Photos

As an art director, I am your best friend or your worst nightmare … the person behind the scenes who chooses whether your photo is used large or small – or even at all. Here’s a quick checklist for increasing your chances of top placement.

DOs

Availability

DO – Make Your Photos Readily Available
Have a well-maintained, easy-to-find media page on your website with downloadable web (low resolution) and print (high resolution) images. When art directors and designers don’t receive imagery that fits our needs, we go hunting. If our only options are Creative Commons or stock you may not like what we find.

Quality

DO – Provide High-resolution Photos
Assume that you’re cover material and supply print-qualtity photos. A good rule of thumb is 8 x 10 at 300 dots per inch, the more dots, the higher the resolution.

Simplicity

DO – Keep It Simple
Avoid unnecessary clutter, busy backgrounds or heavily patterned clothing, and awkward or unnatural compositions.

Personality

DO – Be You
Always show your personality, but recognize that some publications or presenters may be more conservative or less traditional than you. Beautiful, thoughtfully conceived photography can bridge that gap.

DON’Ts

Timely

DON’T – Supply Out-of-Date Photography
You are your brand, and brands shift and grow as your work evolves. Update your photos when you have new material to promote or when you’ve made significant changes to your look such as: haircut or color or replacing/adding/loosing a member of your group.

Variety

DON’T – Assume One Option Will Cut It
It’s always helpful to offer options. A variety of compositions (horizontal and vertical) that are not too tightly cropped and allow for copy space are best. If you are in a large group, photographing the musicians in a long horizontal line can be fun but not always ideal. Be sure to provide tightly composed photos as well.

Modesty

DON’T – Be Your Own Stylist
Unless expressing your inner fashionista is part of what makes you unique, keep your wardrobe neutral. It will also keep your photos from looking dated as trends change. If you’re not confident creating your look talk to your photographer about hiring a stylist to assist with your wardrobe, makeup and hair, and make sure they can be available for the shoot.

CRITIQUE
Click the images below for a side-by-side comparison of photo hits and misses.

Two imagesA flutists stands against a rusty green door

Simplicity

Two imagesboston_classical_music_photographer_20_small

Timely

Two imagesCity of Tomorrow band members stand on a moss-covered bridge in a swamp

Variety

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Jenn Logan

Jenn Logan is the founder and creative director of Studio Fuse, Inc., a Los Angeles-based design firm specializing in visual design strategy for nonprofit, …more 

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