by Lori Bumgarner
Recently I was in NY to speak to several performers including musicians, songwriters, and others on the importance of image in advancing their careers. In this session I covered a variety of ways to improve their image, including determining the right look that says what they want it to say, making their written and online marketing materials stand out, presenting themselves in the media, and presenting themselves to the key players in the entertainment industry who can have an impact on the growth of their careers.
In this presentation, I spent a little time talking about a common mistake that I see most performers make when putting together their publicity and marketing materials, a mistake that ends up costing them more money than necessary: having promotional photos taken without consulting an image consultant or stylist. More specifically, this mistake includes not having an image consultant to assist in the selection of wardrobe before the photo shoot, not having an image consultant on the set during the photo shoot, and not having an image consultant assist after the photo shoot in the selection of the right photos for marketing materials.
First, I’ve seen too many promo photos of performers where the person has obviously bought a new outfit for the photo shoot, but the outfit is all wrong. Either the outfit was too big, too small, not the right color, not the right type of clothing for the purpose of the photos, or not the right clothing for the backdrop. At this point, money has already been spent on clothing and the photographer, and the performer is not happy with the final results. Often times the performer will either settle for a less-than-stellar publicity photo that doesn’t look dynamic, or will try again which means another payment for photographer and photos, and probably even more money spent on new clothing. An image consultant can work with the performer to help determine the appropriate look for the shoot and the appropriate sized clothing for the performer that shows off his or her assets and hides his or her flaws.
During a photo shoot, backdrops vary and change frequently. Not every outfit will work with every backdrop. That’s why it’s important to take several outfits to the shoot and to have the image consultant on hand to determine which outfit goes best with which backdrop and which accessories need to be changed out, to make sure clothing is fitting properly, and to make any necessary adjustments to the clothing (tucking, pinning, etc.) for a flawless look.
After the photo shoot, the performer will most likely get to select only a few pictures from up to possibly 500 frames or shots. This can be very overwhelming, and if the performer or his or her manager lacks an eye for detail, the performer could very well end up overlooking the very best shot and choosing one that’s not as good. An image consultant will look at the emotion in the face to determine if it’s the right emotion needed to convey the appropriate message, will look at what the clothes are doing in the photo (how they are laying, what effect they are creating for the body, etc.), and will look at the posing and camera angles to determine if they are making the subject of the photo look too short, too wide, or too anything!
A perfect example of this is when I was going through some photos from a client’s photo shoot to find just the right full-length shot. There were two pictures that were nearly exactly alike, and she really wanted to use one of those pictures. I showed her why she should choose the other picture that very similar instead of the one she was interested in. The one I had suggested had something the other photo didn’t: a very small amount of space between her right arm and her torso, just enough to show the curve in her waist and make her waist look smaller than it did in the other picture.
Another example is when I worked with a client who had two headshot photos that were nearly alike except for the tilt of his head and the expression of his face. In the picture I chose, the tilt and expression was more consistent with the honest, sincere look and feel he was going for compared to the other picture. The difference between the two pictures was ever so slight, but made all the difference in the world for the message he was trying to convey. It’s those little details that make a big difference.
A good image consultant can also assist you in finding a good photographer, hairstylist, and makeup artist. So when it comes to getting a perfect picture for your promotional photos, don’t make the mistake others make. Be prepared by investing in this type of expertise so you won’t have to spend more money again later. You won’t be sorry!
Lori Bumgarner is the owner of paNASH Style, an image consulting service that provides wardrobe styling for photo shoots, performances, video shoots, and more. She is also the author of Advance Your Image: Putting Your Best Foot Forward Never Goes Out of Style.
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