So yes -- I choose kind of a goofy title for this post because:
1.) I'm just a goofy person
2.) Bryan really is ballin' y'all -- cowboy style! He really is. You should see his Dodge Ram Dually. And just look at them threads he is wearing!
3.) And most importantly, like hip-hop artist, he understands the importance of appearance. No really, I'm dead serious. Appearance and how you portray yourself is important when getting started out in the music business. It really is with any business -- but more so when it comes to music industry I think. I'll explain.
Back in December an aspiring and talented country singer from my hometown of Madison, Fl, Bryan McHargue expressed interest in having me do some press kit photos for him before he even had a demo cut, before he had website or MySpace page, before he so much as had a Facebook fan page for his music. This is quite the opposite of what I am used to though -- because most of the time artists that are starting out just do not understand the value of having nicely shot and designed promo materials -- unless they are hip-hop artist that is. Hip-hop artists are masters of self-promotion. They understand the concept of getting the hype going over them before people have even heard them from their appearance and marketing alone.
This is something I don't notice as much with other artists that are starting out though. Rather than going ahead and investing in having some nice photography and design work done to promote and sell themselves with they try and get by with having a friend with a 'nice camera' take some cliche band shots and then have their mommy or something throw their band name on the page with some God-awful butt ugly type. Then they throw it out there for the world to see with the idea that the music is what's really important and all the rest doesn't really matter.
Well yes -- the music IS what is really important -- but don't ever underestimate the power of captivating and attention grabbing photography / design work when it comes to selling what is most important. What was it? Yes -- the music. You want promo photos of you and your band that will stand out from other promo posters on bar walls. You want to look like you already have made it -- and not like you are starting out and just wanting to make it. Put as much effort into the look of your work as you do the sound of it. Make it where they see your album cover or promo poster and think 'Wow -- this guy looks like he is good -- let's check him out'. Make it where somebody can't tell that you are just a beginning artist unless they look at the record label logo on the album. Make it look like you are one of Warner Music Group's biggest artists.
I thought Bryan McHargue got a good head start with this by having me do the following shots -- I was pretty pleased with how the shoot went:
It is pretty common that I get a lot of shots that the client likes -- but it is rare that I get so many that I really like. I was just happy with how it came out. Not bad for a couple of country boys, a guitar, and a little bit of camera gear on a random December afternoon I thought.
For those of you interested in hearing Bryan's music -- I will be sure to post a link on here as soon as he has some of it up online to be heard. He has a great voice and really is a nice guy. He also is just about the closest thing to a cowboy you might ever meet and has a degree in animal science from the University of Florida with a speciality in beef cattle. Translation -- his clients send him out with a blank check to spend thousands of their dollars on cattle for them based on his opinion of what is a good buy. He's an educated cowboy that has good reason for driving a big dually truck and wearing a cowboy hat. I mean that too. He has to have a way of pulling around all those cows he buys -- and the cowboy hat literally keeps him from being a redneck. That is, the wide brim all the way around the hat keeps the sun off the back of his neck preventing it from getting sunburned while working outside all day. This being where the term 'redneck' comes from.
And there you have it folks -- both a marketing and culture lesson from Keith Taylor Photography -- hope you enjoyed it!