We at Paste spend a fair amount of our time looking at a wide variety of press photos for bands. If you keep up with music and entertainment news, chances are you’ve seen your fair share as well. Even if your life doesn’t revolve around the music industry, you’re bound to notice that band photos can be some of the most awkward and cliche photos out there.
Good band photos are hard to pull off, and for good reason. It’s hard to hit the right balance between awkward family photo and police lineup. Plus, you have to make sure you portray the vibe of your music. A folksy singer-songwriter shouldn’t be mistaken for a deathmetal frontman, and vice-versa.
Continuing in the tradition of Five Album Art Cliches we have collected the top 5 cliches for band photos. We aren’t necessarily saying these photos are bad, but if you want to help your band stand out from the rest, it might be best to avoid these photographic genres.
This category makes an honorable attempt to be creative without being cheesy. However, the glitch effect has been catching on quickly and is now entering the zone of cliches. The problem here isn’t any particular photo itself, but merely the distinctiveness of the technique. It was really good for the first band or two that did it, but lost potency the more it was repeated elsewhere.
This one is especially popular for folk bands. We get it, you have an outdoorsy and free spirit; just be careful that the concept doesn’t become disingenuous. It’s a long drive out to the middle of nowhere, so if a band doesn’t truly belong there, it can end up being a bit like a wasted trip. Props for appreciating the natural beauty of the outdoors, though.
If you need a simple backdrop with a edgy touch to it, stand in front of a brick wall. Maybe throw this category for a loop by sitting on top the brick wall! The brick wall background doesn’t have enough edge to make an actual statement, and has been imitated into oblivion by high school garage bands trying too hard to be cool.
“When you smile at the ground it ain’t hard to tell you don’t know you’re beautiful” is the vibe we’re getting here. Although making a clear distinction from the family photo, sometimes this pose is so painfully obvious it hurts. The off-camera gaze is often meant to be an indicator of a candid, in the moment photograph, but all too often it feels heavily produced and indicates inauthenticity.
The category that probably deserves the most critique. Most of the time the props in these photos are irrelevant to the content and concept of a band’s music. They’re usually even out of context of where that object would be found. If you have a solid guess at why this is done, please let us know. We’re mystified, because unless you’re a comedy band, adding a touch humor doesn’t count as an excuse.