Monday, 17 February 2014

31 Ideas: Sapphire Ng's Comprehensive Guide to Musicians' Photoshoots (From A Modeling Standpoint)

Hello all ! How are you guys doing ?
For this post, I have categorized a total of 31 ideas in which you musicians can adopt for your solo or band photoshoot. 

I hope this would serve as a comprehensive guide for any non-modeling folks out there on how wide and varied all the available photoshoot ideas are for you, your band mates and your instruments (if you want to include them).

Similarly, I believe categories from this post would be useful as well whether or not you are a musician seeking a photoshoot because knowledge is always transferrable across disciplines.

All the photos used in this post are from all the guitar photoshoots I've done if you are wondering why every single photo has a guitar in it. Also, if in any case you want to pose the same way in your photoshoot, by all means grab your instrument and learn my poses :D 

Alright guys without further delay, here we go ! :D

First category:

Probably one of the most popular categories musicians would opt for. See how cool and refreshing it looks like when you include your instrument in headshots ? 

Well pianists can hug their keyboards, bassists their fretboards, and drummers could opt for fancy twirling of their drumsticks so that the sticks can be caught in motion. Alright, just kidding. But you get the idea.

Vintage Colors

The following photo is in sepia. I personally love this shot a lot as it is dramatic, at the same time cool.

This photo is cinematic. So if you got a thing for vintage pictures, by all means show these photos as samples for the photographer you hired.

Soft & Sensual Bedroom Feel with an Artistic Touch

This category is only for those whose branding involves sensuality. Thus if your music and band image is far from being soft and sensual - for example, your band plays hardcore metal music and your image is totally punkish and edgy - you can skip this.

Beach & Sand

The idea here is sexiness. There is something really attractive when musical instruments coexist in the same picture with a natural environment, specifically the beach, sand (and water) here.

There have been music videos whereby the piano is planted in shallow areas of the water, coupled with the beautiful greenery, it makes for a great photoshoot idea.

SuperImposition & Special Effects

Now here's the type of photo you have to communicate clearly with your photographer regarding the result you want. The superimposition done in the photos would be photoshop techniques handled by the photographer so know what you want and express what you want.

Superimposing the right images would result in a really cool effect, such as this photo below, thus overall adding on to the fierce feel.

SuperImposition & Typography

Well this is pretty much similar to the last category except for the fact that it has an extra element to it - typography. 

Choose the font you want and inform your photographer what words do you want to have over your picture, ie. your band name, your name, your album name, or even the year your band was formed etc.

Or most of the time you would just leave the font and design to the photographer and enjoy the uncertain but beautiful outcome.

Cool & Sexy Studio Shoot

Sometimes simple is a better choice for you. 

Book a photoshoot studio and leave the rest to the photographer and stylists. They would decide what prop goes with your shoot, they decide the outfit and even guide you in the posing process. 
(Although in reality, don't expect to be provided much guidance in posing from the shooting team on set because technically speaking, posing guidance aren't part of the photoshoot package.)

Dark & Dramatic Studio Shoot

And if brighter photos aren't your thing, you can opt for darker, more dramatic finishes - just request for a dimmer lighting setup during the shoot. Or if you forgot about it there and then, you could try asking for it post-shoot because these can be settled in the editing process too.

Nice & Casual Studio Shoot

Okay this category has a different feel compared to the Cool & Sexy Studio Shoot. But you get the drill - more relaxed, more casual and simple makeup look.

Sexy & Romantic, Half Body Shot, In Water

This brings the previous beach idea to the next level - immerse your legs into the water AND if your instrument ain't something that would easily slip out of your hands and plunge into the water, you could try this. 

Anyways I presume bassists would have their bass straps, and eg. violinists would have a firm hold on their beloved violins they wouldn't risk loosening their grips on.

And if you like the idea of doing cool, diva-ish poses with your instruments, you could try this:

Shock Value/Creative

This is where the fun level gets elevated a notch.

In this case, I actually plunge a sacrificial guitar into water for the photoshoot. It is bold and makes a statement.

So if you got an unused instrument lying in a corner of your home collecting dust and you like doing unconventional things, try this. It will be fun :D

Cool & Sexy Tunnel Shoot

Here we return to the dry lands again. Hunt for a cool tunnel in your city and you could make use of the great lighting effects found in tunnels, not to mention the tiled walls and floors.

Behind-The-Scenes Shots

These are the shots whereby you could see an image of a camera (possibly blurred) in your photo.

Artistic Lying Down Shots

Ready for a pleasant change ? How would you like the idea of a cool artistic shot like this photo below ? 

The photoshoot promises real fun as you get to be part of the litter of guitars, lingerie and alcohol bottles (Objects would definitely be at your personal discretion). Put on a sensual pose with your musical instrument and coupled with a classy typography in a corner of your photo, you got your perfect shot.

Cutesy Look

The "cute" look may be way out of your comfort zone, but it is always worth it to give it a try :D

Some told me that these following photos take a bit of getting used to because they felt that lead electric guitars don't go together with cute styling. Hahaha well my response to that is if we dare to mix elements that seemingly don't belong together, we will get interesting combinations, & definitely something of novelty if we're lucky - thus doing things out-of-the-box is always the way to go.

Shot Live In Action

So you are not someone into posing or looking fancy along with your instrument in front of the camera - Do no fret. 

Just get a photographer to capture your image during a live show, and your emotions evoked when performing your music (plus your fingers at the right frets) would be caught in your photos.

Another benefit is if there are passerby's taking pictures of you when you are performing. Thus like this image below, you have extra company in the background holding her iPhone up against you and it makes a pretty cool live picture.

Retro Styling

If retro is your thing, you could choose a vintage outfit plus some sunglasses and maybe even request for an alternate color backdrop for your studio shoot.

Shoot with Window Light Effect

Window light effect always gives a soft white wash over your photos.

Simple & Cosy Studio Shoot

This is perhaps one of the simplest you could do for your photoshoot. Just a casual top/jacket and shorts/trousers with minimal makeup plus natural hair, you are ready.

Caught In Motion Photos

Even this category of photos have their own type of cool. Just engage in your normal day activities, but be rest assured that your photographer is lurking somewhere nearby preparing to capture that accidental/natural movement or facial expression.

PS. If you want your instrument to be in the shot, be sure to hang around your guitar/bass/keyboard etc.

Color Wash

If you are thinking of a photo whereby you and your band members are drenched in a sea of color or colors, here are 2 examples:


If you want a predominant emotion prevailing in your band photo, decide if it's going to be happiness and all smiles, anger or even sadness if you are planning to release an album of sad songs.

Emotional & Sentimental

Here are some examples of sentimental, moody feel pictures:

(Photo credits:

Neutral Palettes Studio Shoot

More simple ideas for your consumption: black and white, and nude colors.

Cool Background/Locations

So far most of the previous categories haven't featured much of the background environment. And here is where you might want to choose a location you love because you will understand why as you scroll through the pictures.

And if there are any modern architecture you might want to feature in your photo, here is the time to do it.

Musician Meets Others

Sometimes a comical shot which puts larger-than-life figures (because you rented some expensive outfit, had a team of makeup artist and hairstylists doing your makeup and extravagant hair, plus your instrument hanging on your body in a location that seems less than ideal for sound/audio performance) side by side with 'ordinary' people does the job.

Color Coordinated

And if you like it, you can style a color-coordinated shoot with your instrument. In my case, since I have a red guitar, pairing it up with a red formal dress makes a beautiful match. And what comes into mind when you see a woman in a red outfit ? Lady In Red :D Yes, lady in red plays a red guitar.

Let's say you have a blue instrument and you dress up in blue, combined with some color-blocking with a strikingly contrasting color as the backdrop, I think it will turn out absolutely beautiful, of course only if you've engaged a great photographer for the shoot, and combined with great lighting, styling etc.

Focus On Instrument Shots

Okay you are the shy, more introverted musician - and you prefer faceless shots. You can ask your photographer to take only your arms/hands/fingers region and there you go - a perfect shot.

Or you can have an album cover featuring only your instrument *smiles*

Instrument Foreground, Musician Background

This would be a more interesting take on putting your instrument in the foreground, when now your instrument takes the limelight away from its player/owner.

(Photo credits:

Androgynous Styling

Androgynous, that is if you are a female. 
Otherwise, the white t-shirt and black vest combination has always been a popular choice for musicians.

Simple Shoot

And if all else fails and you are on a tight budget and schedule - anything goes.

Alright guys, we have come to the end of this series of 31 ideas and I hope you have tons of takeaways from this post. All that matters is that you have benefited and feel more inspired for your photoshoot :D

Good luck for all your future endeavors and take care !
See you again !

Love ya,
Sapphire Ng <3 <3 <3