Music Photography: Picking a Theme for a Magazine Layout

Music photography involves capturing bands and live performances. But, before you can ever start taking pictures, you need to pick a theme for your layout. And, this could be the hardest part of the entire shoot.

Live Shoots

When photographing live music, generally you won’t have a choice for what the layout will be. You have to be where the action is, and you usually want to capture as much of the stage as possible. This will ensure that you get most of the band. Then, the next goal is to capture the musicians doing something interesting, like flicking a guitar pick or dancing around the stage.

Staged Shots

You have a lot more control over staged shots. But, there’s a lot more than this than simply standing the band around with their instruments and taking a few pictures. You want to make the scene interesting enough that the person flipping through a magazine will want to read the article. The goal of a magazine layout is to capture someone’s attention, and that’s where the photography comes into play.


Before you start the shoot, research the band and try to figure out their style. Listen to some of their music, and read up on them. This will give you an idea for what the band is known for. If the band is grungy, set them up in an alley in torn jeans and t-shirts.

If the person is known for outrageous costumes and overblown stages, pick elaborate costumes and set her up on a stage with interesting props. The key to this is to fit the layout with the band. You do not want to match up somebody that’s known for light, airy pop and charity with a dark stage and wild makeup.

Capture the Unexpected

The final thing to creating great layouts is to take pictures all the time. Snap the band as the scene is being set up. Turn away from them, and take pictures using a remote control. You’ll never know what you’ll catch when somebody thinks that you’re not paying attention.