Bad, and Good, Show Promotional Photos

Someone just linked me to this Tumbler account of bad show promotional photos.

I love my cell phone camera.  Its amazing, and it allows me to take fantastic photos, like this one…

Chicago in the Summer

Chicago in the Summer

Because sometimes, you don’t have your ‘real’ camera on you.  Or you just want to do a cool panorama with the special function of the Samsung 3.

However, ever since people started to realize how good the cameras are in cell phones?  Theaters started doing this thing where they would hand someone their cell phone, take a photo, and send it out in their press kits.

Its goddamned awful.

I’m not just saying this as a photographer who gets paid to do these things.  I’m saying this as a sentient human being with feelings.  And an art school background.  And a sense of taste.
Keep in mind, everyone who doesn’t already know you personally is going to be getting their sense of what your show is like from this image that you’re reproducing on posters, websites, and press kits.  This is their first impression of your show.  They’ll be looking at the image and deciding:
Do I want to see this?
Is this a really shitty production?
Did they put any effort into it?

And hey… does it get your attention?

Marie of Gulp!

Marie of Gulp!

This is Marie, from the improv troupe Gulp!
I had the genuine pleasure of coaching Gulp! as an improv group.  When they approached me about taking their photos, we started throwing around ideas.  I’ve always been a fan of 1940s glamor, so I pitched that.

Thomas of Gulp!

Thomas of Gulp!

Thomas was given the job of organizing everyone by the group, and making sure that each person understood what they were going for.  He also decided to take on a sinister persona. It was a blast to photograph.  If you know Thomas, he’s the farthest thing from sinister.

Amber of Gulp!

Amber of Gulp!

Amber kicked things up a notch.  Forget for a moment that she pretty much owns this era.  Amber is a natural in front of the camera.  She has enough knowledge of what she likes to see in an image without being so aware that she becomes paralyzed.

Jacob of Gulp!

Jacob of Gulp!

And then, of course, Jacob… the creator and producer of Gulp!

The entire cast pitched in with their ideas, and gave me a ton to work with. The shoot sped by.  I was sad when it was over.

But if I’ve done my job, you’ll agree with me that everyone is shown in a great light.  It makes you curious about who they are, and there’s no doubt that this is a professional show.  Because it looks like it is.

And that’s my point. If you want your show to look professional, hire a professional.  Yes, it doesn’t have to be me.  A friend of mine who lives in another state linked me to some amazing photos taken by another photographer. Guess what?  Their show sold out every time.

Did it help that the show was critically acclaimed?  Yes.  But it also helped that it looked fantastic in the posters.
Find a photographer.  Hit us up.  Tell us what you’re trying to do.  We’re dying to let you tap into our creativity and talent.

Signed: Kimberley Michelle Vaughn


Kimberley Michelle Vaughn

Last year, at Chicago’s Film & Media Expo, there was an interview with a number of casting agents and agencies.  When asked about the favorite aspect of their job, one woman immediately said that they get work for actors who are hungry for work.
I’m reminded of this recently because of an e-mail that was in my inbox.
Yes, it is cool to get to photograph a lot of different people. And yes, I’ve always known that its a great thing to get paid to do what you love… as I do.

But one thing makes it cooler: when you get that e-mail from someone that you recently photographed telling you that they’ve been signed to the Paonessa Talent Agency.

Am I personally responsible for Kimberley getting signed?

Of course not.  If you get the chance to meet her, you’ll understand as I do that she’s a driven professional who does her homework and works hard at the business end of show business.

But as her photographer, I had a small part in it.  As someone who is rooting for her, I’m extremely proud.

Continue to kill it, Kimberley.