When you create a website to promote yourself, it is important to have about a half-dozen publicity photos of yourself that promoters, traditional news reporters and bloggers can use when they create promotional materials, write articles or post on the Internet about you and your events.
These pictures should be of higher quality than a candid shot taken on your phone. Hiring a professional photographer is a sound investment! Find one whose work you like, then fully explain what you wish to get from the photo session, and use his or her expertise to make that happen.
For your photo, prepare to look like your best self - but do look like yourself. Get your hair done (whatever that means, cut, grown, dyed, etc), grow the beard or shave it, choose clothing that you like and that will work well in the photo, use make-up to a reasonable degree. But don't go overboard and do up yourself to look nothing like yourself! (Unless, of course, you do that with intention; for example, dressing like a pirate for your new Pirate Album, etc.) If you look great but not recognizable as you, then the photo is not a good representation.
Keep your photographs reasonably recent, I'd say not more than 2-3 years old. It's always a little strange when a person's photo is from 10 years ago! That said, time flies, and pictures get old faster than you might expect. Know that you'll need to keep on top of things and take opportunities to have good pictures taken.
When you do have your photo session, make sure that you are taking the kinds of pictures that you will need. There are a lot of things to consider beforehand: You might want some shots to be formal, some to be a little more casual (or all formal, all casual). You might want them all to include your violin, or you might have a few without it. You might want some with a lot of background, some that are very tight. You might want to shoot in a studio to get a neutral background, or somewhere in the city, at a concert hall, or out in nature. Choose what reflects your current vision for your own image.
Also, be sure to take pictures that can be sized for use in many different formats. Otherwise, you'll put editors in the position of cropping your photos so that they can fit the demands of their specific medium. To that end, make sure you have at least one that is formatted for landscape (horizontal), one portrait (vertical) and one square. Know that the standard proportions of an embedded Youtube video are 16:9 ratio, and that size is commonly favored for Twitter and Facebook, and here on Violinist.com. Instagram is all square, and thus there is an common aesthetic out there for square photos. Portraits are used in many places, especially traditional media. Also, photos with a lot of background can help in making album covers, posters, or other materials that require a some space around your image for writing titles or concert dates.
Make sure you have the rights to your photos, from your photographer, and then make sure that it's easy to download a high-resolution copy of each photo from your website. I find it a little silly, as an editor, when I am unable to download a publicity shot from an artist's website, yet the same photo is all over the Internet, downloadable 30 other ways. List each photo with the name of the photographer to be credited. Not every news organization will do this, but we are artists, and I always think it's a good idea to credit other artists, even to hyperlink to their work when possible.
Do you have any advice on creating and choosing your artist publicity photos? Please feel free to share ideas below.
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