In this guide, we’ll be discussing everything you need to know about headshots for musicians.
We’ll be covering the following topics (click on a bullet point to jump to that section):
What is a Musician Headshot?
A musician headshot is a photograph of a musician that is styled like a portrait (though it may also be taken in “photojournalistic” style), ideally with your instrument on hand.
These photographs are often used for online profiles, social media accounts, and websites; they’re also commonly submitted to magazines, blogs, record labels, and other music industry companies.
The goal is to create a photo that makes people want to buy your music.
The headshot should give potential employers and fans an idea of what you look like and what vibe they get from you in one image.
It needs to be high-quality enough for use in major music publications and other professional media.
What Type of Musician Headshots Are There?
There are three main types of musician headshots. They can be done in-studio, on location, or at a photo booth.
1. In-Studio Headshots
As the name implies, these take place in a studio setting. You will want to hire a pro photographer that has access to quality lighting equipment and backdrops.
2. Photo Booth Headshots
These are by far the easiest to pull off, but they might not be your best option if you’re looking for something that will impress industry professionals.
If you do go this route though, make sure you get enough photos (at least ten) so that you can select the five or six best ones and edit them into a standard portrait.
Who Needs a Musician Headshot?
Almost anyone who aspires to be a professional musician needs a good headshot.
Even if you don’t use them for online profiles and social media, it’s still very likely that you’ll need high-quality portraits of yourself for:
- Promotional materials such as flyers and posters
- Attending gigs and festivals
- Promoting shows on websites or social media
- Submitting music for radio and television shows
- Getting press coverage in magazines and blogs
This applies to:
- Solo musicians
When Should You Get a Musician Headshot?
There is no set time when you need to get your photo taken.
If you’re not actively using headshots to promote yourself, then you can get them done at any time.
However, if you’re just starting out or trying to build up your fanbase, it’s a good idea to get photos taken at least every year or two.
People change their looks over time, so it’s helpful for potential employers and fans to see more than one image of you.
It’s also easier for them to compare the latest photo to older ones, which will show how much you’ve grown as an artist.
What Should Musicians Wear In Their Headshots?
Accurate representation is very important in headshots.
Your headshot should look like the real you (or at least a really good version of you). Here are some tips for how to achieve that:
- Wear clothes and accessories that you normally wear when performing or practicing
- Stick with neutral colors, such as black, white, gray, beige, and navy blue.
- Just wear what you are comfortable with
How to Take Your Own Musician Headshots
If you can’t afford to hire a photographer, shooting your own photos is the next best thing. Here are some tips for getting high-quality shots:
- Use studio lighting and set up an improvised backdrop
- Find a quiet room with plain or textured walls
- Have a friend help you arrange and snap the photos
- Try different poses and angles until you land on your best one
- Edit your shots with Photoshop or other software to get rid of blemishes and smooth skin
How to Use Musician Headshots?
If you’re using musician headshots to promote yourself, make sure you have a good idea of how they will be used.
They should complement your existing promotional materials and online profiles (e.g., Facebook images, Twitter profile picture).
If you’re not sure what size or format to use for each type of media, try different sizes with the same photo and see which one looks best.
Most social media sites allow you to upload multiple images, so feel free to use your different headshots on all of them!
You will probably end up with an avatar for websites and blogs, a profile picture for Facebook, Twitter, and Google+, a big headshot for EPKs (electronic press kits), etc.
Once you’ve chosen the best headshots, make sure to promote them everywhere you can.
If they’re high quality and professional looking, people will appreciate seeing new photos of you.
Musician Headshot Costs
A professional photographer will charge around $250 for a headshot session, with the price increasing for more complex setups or locations.
If you’re on a budget and can’t afford to hire someone, try taking your own photos using the tips above.
What Are the Different Styles of Musician Pictures?
Outside of a traditional headshot, there are other forms of photos that musicians take.
This is the most basic type of musician headshot. It simply shows you or your band looking at the camera, without any props or poses.
Also known as a one-fourth shot, this photo has just your head and shoulders visible on the frame.
Half of your body is seen in this photo, from the head down to the waist.
Like a three-quarters shot, only it’s from the side instead of from the front. This is often used when you’re performing solo or do not have a full band behind you.
A casual photo with friends or family, or one that shows you practicing or performing.
A formal portrait of yourself, usually for professional use such as an official website. These are often done in a studio setting and include props such as musical instruments, books, etc.
To further explore musician photos and tips, we also recommend this video by Sophia Carey:
What Should Musicians Know About Their Headshots?
Musician headshots should be high quality and professional looking.
Avoid anything that looks dirty or unkempt, and relocate to a better setting if there is one nearby (e.g., inside instead of outside).
If you don’t like the headshots available, do not settle for them! Get as many photos as necessary until you find the perfect shot, and make sure they’re all high resolution files.
Don’t forget to promote your headshots everywhere they’ll be seen!
Fill out every profile with a new photo, post it across social media, and include links to your music on all online profiles.
This will ensure that your new headshots get exposure and lead to more fans.
Where Can You Find a Musician Headshot Photographer?
Musician headshots are usually done by photographers specializing in headshots and portraits.
These professionals should have a studio with space to take photos and lighting equipment, as well as computer software for processing the images.
Use your favorite search engine to find local portrait studios or check out Craigslist ads. You can also post on social media or other artist communities online to find someone who’s willing to do the shoot for free or very cheap.
As long as you follow this guide, you should be able to get high-quality musician headshots in no time!
Get your best photos together and find a photographer who can process them correctly.
Then start promoting your new look online so that people can start connecting with you on social media.
We hope you enjoyed this guide on headshot photography for musicians.
This guide is a part of our Headshot Hub, so be sure to check that out for further headshot photography tips and insights.
Nate Torres is an entrepreneur, growth marketer, and photographer and writes mostly on those topics. Nate runs his own professional photography business called Nate Torres Photography. Nate enjoys learning about new digital marketing strategy and new ways to think creatively. He is also a photography speaker and author on Photofocus.