July 27, 2023
Words by: Factory Studios
Artist Headshots: Capturing the Essence of Musicians Through Photography
Unveiling the artistry of a good headshot with Bristol-based Photographer and Creative Director Seb Peters
1. What is your process when you take on a new shoot? What do you need to know in order to feel comfortable and confident that you’ll be able to give them the shots that they need? What sort of planning and preparation takes place before the shoot?
It varies quite a lot! Some clients come to me with an almost concrete concept, while some come to me with almost no idea at all. I’m always collating images and gathering inspiration so that when these people come along I have boards of images to look at to sound out their taste.
The planning for some of my most successful shoots has been as simple as “let’s go for a walk in this end of town?” or as complicated as weeks of planning with costumes and props – though I’d say most exist somewhere between the two!
2. How do you build a rapport with musicians to make them feel comfortable and confident in front of the camera?
That’s a tough one! I do think that being a musician myself definitely helps – I studied music formally & informally for a decade before I ever picked up a camera, so I think having that shared background helps.
Other than that I’m a big believer that to do good work, people should be relaxed and in a low-stress environment, so I always strive to make sure it’s a very relaxed (but efficient!) environment.
3. What sort of techniques do you like to utilise and get creative/experimental with to create the desired mood or atmosphere?
I’ve tried so many different things over the years, and I think that sometimes we can get too caught up in making an image that is technically impressive or eye catching-ly abstract over a good portrait of the person in question.
Saying that – I’m a sucker for incorporating motion in an image, and that can come from either the subject or myself. Other obvious techniques like placing prisms of varying forms in front of the lens is a surefire way of getting interesting results!
4. What challenges can arise during sessions, and how do you overcome them to achieve the desired results?
I’ve been lucky enough that most of my shoots haven’t had any real problems, but whenever anything does come up I trust in my ability to improvise!
Common challenges that can come up with people who aren’t frequently in front of the camera (especially musicians) usually just take the form of people not being entirely comfortable with themselves – and that’s a totally normal & common feeling, so one of the most important aspects of my practice is to be empathetic and accommodating towards people and their sensitivities.
5. Which shoot has stood out to you recently and why?
I’m lucky enough to be working almost too much and shooting exciting things every week, but recently I’ve been working with Devansh, an incredible artist based in London, to shoot a whole documentary & accompanying press photos. We’ve been everywhere from his flat in Bethnal Green to the Brean on the coast and most recently to an overgrown church in the centre of London.
6. What advice would you give someone looking to specialise in shooting artist headshots?
The most important part of being a good photographer is actually nothing about cameras or lenses – it’s about being relaxed and communicative with whoever you’re photographing.
On the technical side I advise people to forget about all the impressive and fancy stuff – get a decent prime lens (anything from a 50mm to an 85mm) and remember not to overcomplicate things.
7. What advice would you give to artists that are planning upcoming shoots?
If you have an idea in mind of what you want, pull together as many references as you can to give to the photographer – but if you don’t have any hard and fast ideas, talk with them about what they can do – there’s no wrong or right way of doing it!
If you’re looking for artist headshots and want to reach out to Seb, his details can be found here.
His website, showcasing more of his work, is here.
If you’re interested in further reading and checking out a recent video of one of our regulars – Holysseus Fly – head over to our feature here.