As a music writer for over a decade, I’ve probably spent entire weeks of my life sending email after email to track down musician photos I can publish, legally and sharp-looking, in websites, magazines and newspapers. Occasionally, label or publicity websites have press pages that make this stuff easy, but often bands and everyone who works for them screw this up. Here’s how to make journalists and bloggers’ lives a lot easier and look good doing it.
Take a photo
Have your friend do it on an iPhone and boost the sharpening and contrast. Hire a professional photographer for money. Whatever. Whoever does it, you need a signed agreement stating that you have an unlimited license to freely use, publish and provide the photo to media (web, print, video). Maybe you are buying the rights to the photo but probably the photographer will retain them.
One photo is good. Two or three are better — blogs want to stand out, just like you. Make them horizontal, please. For both vertical and horizontal images, consider leaving some empty space in the photo to put text on top of — magazines love that.
Get the image
You should have a 300 DPI .jpg file in the highest possible resolution in the sRGB color space. sRGB is how photos look online – the DPI is for print. Your photographer will know what this all is: if he or she doesn’t, get a new one. It’s fine if the file is 5 times bigger than anyone will ever post, we will shrink and crop it for our needs.
Other color spaces, like Adobe RGB, can work for print, but if the publication in question needs something particular, they’re probably doing a photo shoot with you anyway. If you must do something other than sRGB, do both and label them.
Post the image
On your website, make a /press-kit or /photos page. Post thumbnails with direct download links to the image. That will look something like this: http://www.secretlycanadian.com/press/electricyouth/ Don’t put them in a Flash gallery or some weird thing where they can’t be downloaded. Think about it.
Someone should be able to Google “(Your band) press photos” and get to the page.
If you want to post the photos in a Dropbox or Google Drive or whatever, fine. But link to them. On your press kit or photos page. Which you should have. No fan is going to accidentally click it and be ashamed of you.
Photos have copyrights, just like your music. Caption the photo with the photographer’s name or appropriate credit. If you / your label / someone else owns the photo, list that credit! So there is no confusion, it should read: “Credit: (name of the credit).”
Before you upload it, put the credit in the file name, too, so we don’t have to track it down again later. Your-band-photographer-name-2014.jpg.
See how I listed the year, too? Do that. Then people can use the new photo and not the one from 2003 that they found on Google Image Search because they couldn’t find the ones you shot two weeks ago.
Photo: Electric Youth / credit: Vanessa Heins