Updated: May 8
Planning the perfect wardrobe to capture your style, personality and branding for your musician portrait photoshoot can be stressful. Here are Erin & Jake Photography's top 13 tips to styling your musician portraits, album cover looks and social media promotional content fashion.
1. Branding Is Everything!
Before promoting yourself professionally, always consider your branding. Branding is everything.
Photographs, if successfully executed, have the power to engage your fans (and those who may become fans) beyond the listening experience. The right photo can spark a reader's interest to learn more about you and your music.
What style genre is your music? What demographics are you targeting? What are your goals with your music?
2. Dress For The Stage
A popular technique is to dress for your photoshoot like you are about to go on stage...you almost can't go wrong. This will ensure your portrait session and the artist you are on stage are a match. Do you wear bold colors on stage? Perhaps you are more of an all-black & leather type. No matter your style choice, dressing for the stage is a solid approach.
When promoting yourself online with the images you take during your musician portrait session, you will want the content to be engaging with your fans. Ones from your shows and the new ones you attract online. Therefore, you will want represent yourself cohesively. Also! Your goal in promoting yourself online is to book more gigs and bigger opportunities, correct? Representing yourself cohesively from stage... to photoshoot.. to everyday lifestyle will help book more gigs. Your brand becomes more recognizable the more authentic you are and the more you network it.
3. Connect To The Music
Music and art tend to be a lifestyle and a calling. You want to come across as the authentic artist and musician that you are. Make sure the clothes you choose provide a cohesive visual representation of your music. You want people to look at you and feel like the music you create/perform is authentic to who you are in real life.
Whether you are planning a studio photoshoot against a backdrop or a location shoot against a stunning natural landscape, you will want to contrast against your surroundings. Complementary colors are opposite each other on the color wheel – for example, orange and blue, teal and red, purple and yellow, etc.
You can use this method, for example, at a band photoshoot with a group of people. Different people can wear clothes in complementary colors to each other.
For a solo musician portrait photoshoot, you can follow this theory to choose the different pieces of the outfit or pick the wardrobe depending on the color of the background or backdrop.
Capturing texture in a photograph can add visual interest, highlight unique patterns, or even evoke emotions. Whether you are adding a touch of texture to add just the right amount of pop to your photo; or your are going bold and adding multiple contrasting textures to create a unique look, texture is your friend. It can be in the form of plaids, stripes, laces, knits, etc. They can also be mixed and matched to create bold and creative looks.
Black and white photo and video shoots should be styled based on textures and not color. Your photographer and wardrobe stylist can help guide you to what looks best.
6. Get Creative!
Music has influenced fashion for decades. Don't be afraid to push the boundaries and get creative. There are no rules when it comes to how to express yourself. This is your chance to stand apart from everyone else. A musician portrait is more than just a simple photograph. It is an opportunity to capture your true essence as an artist. Let your clothing be as creative as you are!
Remember, branding is key! As long as your idea is on brand for the artist you are and the market you are aiming to break into, you will be hitting the mark. Break the rules of contrast and go for a monotone look in your favorite branded color. Or push the envelope and bare it all in a nude classy and creative nude shoot. Mix and match patterns, blend into your backgrounds for the sake of musical fine art.
Set the bar high. Express yourself the same way you express yourself in your music.
7. Choose A Color Palette
If you are looking for a more stylized look or cohesive looks, an easy trick is to choose a color palette and stick to it when putting your outfit(s) together.
If timeless lasts forever.... Neutrals are the most photogenic and most versatile!
Before choosing your color palette, you will want to consider the following:
- Color palette of your location background.
- Your branding.
- Current fashion color trends.
- Your most flattering colors.
- Season and weather for location shoots.
- The versatility of your color palette.
- The color(s) and finishes of your instrument.
8. Always Listen To Your Manager
Your manager knows what is best for your career advancement. They are in tune with what is working in the current industry market; what holds attention on a grand scale and also online. Their advice is valuable and consulting with your management before doing a photoshoot to promote your career should be highly considered. Ask for their advice and feedback if they don't provide it freely.
Although many musicians prefer to wear black on stage, research shows the most flattering colors are cool blues, purple, pastels and neutrals. Musicians should also be mindful to choose colors that best complement their skin tones.
If you are going for an eye-catching look, bright colors like red and yellow will be sure to get the audience’s attention. If you want to look sexy, red, black, copper and bronze are the colors known for being the most sexually attractive.
Stick to current, in-trend, fashion colors. neons, orange royal purple, burning deep reds, and teal tones are seen in 2022 Fall/Winter runways.
10. Be Yourself, Be Authentic
There's a lot that goes into a great press photo, the right album cover and the most engaged promotional content. First, you need to make some decisions about who you are as an artist, and make sure that your photos convey that message. Start by defining your band (branding). This is the first step to understanding the tone and attributes that you want people to walk away with after seeing or hearing you. For example, if you're defining yourself as the boho-gypsie-rocker with sass, your photography and video content should have that same vibe, and it should paint that portrait of who you really are. Your authentic musician lifestyle.
Yes, please! Accessories are a great way to add detail and interest your musician portraits, all why showing off your personal style. We love a cool hat, a statement necklace, or how a great pair of earrings can make an entire portrait come to life. How a scarf and layers can bring all the attention to a subjects face. We are here to capture the essence of who you are, and often accessories help communicate this to the viewer!
Unless pertinent to the idea or theme of the photo, we always suggest that the musician should avoid wearing distracting clothing patterns or too many accessories.
12. Don't Forget Your Instrument! Your instrument is a personal prop that should always be included in a series of your photoshoot set. In terms or tying it into your wardrobe selections, always consider the color(s) and finish of your instrument. Consider the colors of your instrument in your chosen color palette and the finish of your metals in your accessories.
Pro Tip: Bring supplies to properly clean your instrument. Buff the fingerprints. It looks a lot better and will save a ton of time in post editing.
13. Professional Hair & Makeup
Tie everything together with professional hair and makeup. If you are going all out on your own outfit, why not a little pamper in the name of professional photos and music video shoots?! Having a professional stylist come to the photoshoot will help you get a more professional looking portraits. They know how to make you look your best for a photoshoot of video shoot. That goes for male and females!
At Erin & Jake Photography, we have a list of trusted professional Hair and Makeup Artists we work closely with and can highly recommend. You would choose your favorite and not have to search for an artist, yourself.
At the end of the day, what to wear to a photoshoot is all about who you are and how you feel. Make sure you feel confident in your outfit, because if you don’t, it will show in your images.
It’s important to go into your session feeling your best and feelin' yourself!
<3 Erin & Jake Photography