Author: McNeal, Brian

Hey, Let's Get A Group Photo!

Who ever first said these words: “OK, everyone line up against that wall, let's get a group photo,” should be lined up against the wall in front of a firing squad and duly shot.

I can't tell you how the sound of those words makes me cringe. It's worse than the sound of fingernails on a chalkboard. I get the same effect when I see photos of this type and I can just hear the words being spoken by the photographer or someone else in the group.

Some of the most unflattering photographs of some of the most image-conscience people are these “Up-Against-The-Wall” shots.

What makes people think a wall is the best backdrop for a photo? I've seen this scenario played out in real life so many times: An ugly block wall with paint pealing off, shadows from a nearby tree and the roof overhang and the tallest people in the group have their heads in that shadow yet others have washed out faces from too much direct sunlight. While all the while there is a serene pasture with horses, trees, a brook, rolling hills and a lot more interesting accoutrements just about 90 degrees to either side of that block wall. Yet the block wall get's everyone's attention. Now I ask you, which would you rather see in the background of your group photo?

Still, I constantly see high-profile musicians with some of the most accolades and awards and supposedly top-notch management teams, line up against the wall for a band photo. Then that shot is used for countless promotional pieces, splattered all over their website and social pages and the ultimately used and re-used by the media that publishes to the world.

I can't help but think that if these same high-level musicians kept their musical ability down to the same level they're willing to accept for their photography that they'd all still be playing “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.” As photography goes, it really is that amateur. And it can be so much better with just a simple change. Eliminate these words from your vocabulary for ever: “LINE UP AGAINST THE WALL.” Really, that's all it would take.

Not to sound like all I do is complain, let me suggest numerous ways your band can have professional looking photography for promo shots even if all you have to work with is your spouse and a cheapo Instamatic camera with no settings or adjustments.

Last year Prescription Bluegrass published a complete series of DIY tips from professional photographer Jan Hudson, who herself is also a bluegrass musician. She offers countless tips on things you can do to improve the look that is going to take you and your career where you want to be. And she's more than willing to address questions that you may have if you'll send them directly to her. I don't know why anyone would not want to take advantage of that kind of offer. How could you lose?

Here's the link for the directory of all of her tips. Just take a look at the right hand sidebar.

Have a great weekend and remember, I'll be looking at your pictures – make 'em good.
Brian McNeal
Prescription Bluegrass Editor and Radio Host.
Posted:  3/22/2014

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