How much should you spend on pictures?
Many people in trying to make it in this business seem to think that they can give an agent or manager some lousy snapshot of themselves that their boyfriend or Dad shot on their three hundred dollar digital camera, and that that will be acceptable. The fact is, not just any one is a good photographer, and most people are not. There is a difference between having a decent amateur camera and shooting a nice sunset, and composing a properly lit headshot, with the right depth of field, aspect ratio, golden mean, color composition, lighting tonality, directionality, soul portrayed of the subject, and so much more. Photography is an art form, and as a photographer and filmmaker myself, I know how hard it is what we do. The best photographers trained hard to do what they do, paid lots of money to learn it, and developed their craft. They should be paid, as any other professional, and paid well, for great work done well. The fact that many say, if an agent or manager says you have to get pictures somewhere and/or that you have to pay for your photos- it’s a scam, simply don’t know what they are talking about. Of course, if you can get anything free, get it free. But if you have to pay, be prepared to without complaining, and use good judgment.
Let's say you are going on a vacation driving somewhere unknown, and your phone, internet and GPS are not working due to being in the mountains. You get a flat, and finally roll in to a gas station you discover. They tell you they do not have spare tires or do changes, but can suggest a place to you that is close and good that will do the job you need. Are you going to decide to look around, because you don’t trust anyone, and damage your rim and get more lost, or are you going to go with someone who knows and has experienced what you are unsure of? If you want to sign with an agent or manager, and they are nice enough to give you a referral, take it and pay whatever it costs, under a thousand for headshots and zeds both (comparable to five or six rolls), under six hundred to eight hundred for zeds, and under four to five hundred for headshots.
Hair and make up may range from twenty five to one hundred, which is usually needed. Wardrobe stylists can run the same as hair and MUA (make up artist), which may or may not be necessary. If your look is in high demand, which you will only know by going to a number of agents or managers or castings, then you may get away with paying less. I have heard many models tell me that they were told that if an agent or manager really wants them bad enough, that they will not have to pay for photos. That may be true. But what they don’t tell you is the other part, that most agents and managers don’t want most people that badly, because there are few out there who are really one in a million. Most looks are a dime a dozen, and talent is even more rare.
Now, I can already predict E-mails from anonymous people stating how this advice is not correct, but those people either got pictures free, or have an agenda, such as to sell you photos. The above information is correct for most, and I have no agenda other than to help you succeed in this industry for free.
How do you get free photo shoots?
The best way to get free photo shoots is if you know the photographer, and can get it as a favor for free. Another way is to do of course, what is called a TFP, (Trade for Print). TFP’s are usually done by either amateurs, less established photographers needing to build up their book, or a more established photographer that wants your look in their book, or that really just likes you. In any case, if you do not know the photographer, you must be very careful. If you don’t know the photographer, or for auditions, only go to a known location agreed upon in advance, near other businesses, and have your cell phone on you at all times. Have a friend wait in the car outside in case of any emergency, do not consume food or drinks by any unknown party, and do not take your clothes off or do anything you are uncomfortable with. Make them send you an E-mail stating in writing what they agree to give you, for your record, and anything else you want. Generally, it is best to just avoid TFP’s, unless you get a great agent or manager to book it for you, where they know they are safe and sane. There are other ways to get free shoots, but that is all I have space for. Call my office if you want more advice in this or any other area.
How do you book your own tour?
Get the Contacts
Booking a tour for a band or singer is relatively easy if you get someone that is good on the phone. I booked my first one nationwide for two bands when I was 22, and the source I used then was what any musician should still use now, and that is a specific publication with all of the information you need to book your tour, that is for sale to musician’s. It’s called Musicians Guide to Touring and Promoting. If you do a little more homework, you can find much of the contacts for venues free on your own via internet searches, however, this guide I refer to is great because it gives you the information on the capacity of the clubs, what they are looking for, who their contact person is, and more.
Work the Phone
Having the venue and other data alone is not enough, you now need to know how to work it, and that means working the phone like mad. Many club bookers work late at night, up to midnight or later, may talk on the phone when they are drunk, may swear, and may be rude. Dealing with club promoters and bookers is nothing like dealing with A&R people at the labels, who are usually more professional. Another thing you must know is that you should not call yourself to book your own band. You need to have someone else call for you, or create a stage name for yourself and speak of the band in the third person, not indicating that it is you performing. Just don’t lie. I will cover more on booking a tour in the next issue, including mapping out the tour, the lingo, tour support, life on the road, contracts, riders, etc.
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