Your shoot sucks. These are the three words you, as a music artist, never want to hear about your photo or video shoot project. Before you go pointing the finger at someone else for such an expensive train wreck, be sure you were not the conductor.
Sometimes, having your choice of the best photographer/director, wardrobe, location and glam squad are still not enough to ensure you will end up liking your shoot, no matter the budget scale. Thankfully, these situations are extremely rare if proper planning, communication and professional behavior on your part are in play.
Yes, someone else on your team can possibly drop the ball, but you are the key player in avoiding certain pitfalls. Let’s run through a quick checklist of things that only you can control to avoid self-sabotage.
1. You arrived late on set. This creates a stressful environment for the whole crew as shoot days are carefully planned to maximize every minute that you are there.
2. You tried a new “look” for your hairstyle the day before the shoot. That’s as risky as getting your first spray tan the night before a shoot at the local strip mall.
3. You did not speak up when you hated something. If you are asked to present yourself in a way you are uncomfortable with, do everyone a favor and speak up! Say it on set- right then and there- trust me, your creative team wants to hear it before it is too late to turn back.
4. You did not create a packing list. Plan out everything you need to bring to the shoot in advance, including obvious things like instruments, guitar straps and appropriate undergarments.
5. You consumed alcohol the night before (or during) the shoot. Puffy face, red eyes and energy crashes… just say no.
6. You communicated poorly in advance of the shoot. The best time to outline your overall imaging goals is before the shoot, not during. Provide as many tear sheets as you can well in advance. Give clear and descriptive feedback on video treatments before commissioning.
7. You invited non-industry friends/family to the shoot. This can be distracting on many levels, especially for the more sensitive artists. In some cases, feedback from people too close to you can be damaging to your on-set confidence and demeanor. Boo!
8. You let the unexpected throw you. Of course, unwanted circumstances can appear out of nowhere. It’s raining, it’s blazing hot, it’s painfully cold… guess what- the show must go on. Don’t lose focus. Your creative team should have a back up plan in extreme circumstances.
9. You don’t know the tempo or words to the song you are about to lip sync 100 times. Enough said.
10. You wasted a lot of time looking at the playback footage. Checking your look in the first few shots is a good thing. Asking to look at footage every 10 minutes or so is bad. If you are happy with the first looks, then let the professionals do what they do and get on with your bad self!
Of course, the more shoots you do, the more you learn. I am a big fan of having test shoots to work out the early tweaks with developing artists if at all possible. Just remember to learn from your mistakes. And hey, here’s the sunny side- even if your shoot does suck, at least your music doesn’t and that’s the most important thing.