Let’s Get Rid Of Blah Arts Manager Photos Once And For All

I’ve been thinking a lot about promotional and portrait photos for both artists and arts managers. The former enjoy the lion’s share of creativity and imagination while many rise to the level of being downright iconic. Arts managers, not so much. Most tend to be the obligatory headshot, sitting on a desk, in a concert hall, or standing in front of a venue. * Yawn* And don’t get me started with hands on chins. Aren’t we supposed to be in a creative field? So why then is it so difficult to project an image of confidence and creativity?

big cameraIf people want to see more routine corporate photos, I’ll swing by a stock photo site. Sure, the quality of images is good but they are just devoid of life. And the handful of images that step out of those conventional settings tend to be predictable as well. Plenty of paint has been wasted being splashed around set props and cheap business suits.

Yet I simply refuse to believe there isn’t something better out there so to that end, I need your help. Take a moment to leave a comment and let’s begin building a resource list. Focus any one more of the following:

  • Links to arts manager images you like.
  • Links to photographer websites that have great arts manager photos (or even applicable corporate exec images).
  • Explain why you think the image(s) are appealing.
  • Explain what you think would make an exciting and captivating arts manager photo/portrait.
  • What sort of message do you think an arts manager photo/portrait should project?
  • If money wasn’t an object, how would you stage an arts manager photoshoot?

Ultimately, I think we can begin putting an end to dull arts manager photos.

And if you’re a photographer, go right ahead and plug away for your services, but only if you promise to explain your process, philosophy, etc. Not only do we want to know “what” but we want to know “how” and “why” as well. Seize the opportunity to educate and enlighten us!

As an aside, I’m on my knees begging each and every photographer out there to please *pretty please* stop using Flash based portfolio website platforms. To put it bluntly, they suck. Sure, several years ago they were one of the best options for showcasing images but it’s time to bite the bullet and launch into the brave new world of post-Flash image publication.

About Drew McManus

"I hear that every time you show up to work with an orchestra, people get fired." Those were the first words out of an executive's mouth after her board chair introduced us. That executive is now a dear colleague and friend but the day that consulting contract began with her orchestra, she was convinced I was a hatchet-man brought in by the board to clean house.

I understand where the trepidation comes from as a great deal of my consulting and technology provider work for arts organizations involves due diligence, separating fact from fiction, interpreting spin, as well as performance review and oversight. So yes, sometimes that work results in one or two individuals "aggressively embracing career change" but far more often than not, it reinforces and clarifies exactly what works and why.

In short, it doesn't matter if you know where all the bodies are buried if you can't keep your own clients out of the ground, and I'm fortunate enough to say that for more than 15 years, I've done exactly that for groups of all budget size from Qatar to Kathmandu.

For fun, I write a daily blog about the orchestra business, provide a platform for arts insiders to speak their mind, keep track of what people in this business get paid, help write a satirical cartoon about orchestra life, hack the arts, and love a good coffee drink.

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10 thoughts on “Let’s Get Rid Of Blah Arts Manager Photos Once And For All”

  1. Amen, Amen and Amen!! There are SO many times, when engaging an artist, the photos are horrid! I have to use these pictures to help “sell” the concert. I’ve become I-don’t-give-a-rip enough that I will tell the artist’s agent flat out that the pictures are not good. Here we are in the trenches trying to convince the world that classical music is relevant, edgy and worth their time and money and THEN we get 70’s style photos that look like they were taken with a friend’s Kodak 110… there I feel better. Thank you for the use of your soapbox, Drew. There are a few good agents out there with great pics… and I thank you!

  2. I agree with you 100%. There is simply no energy in those types of photos. My own philosophy as a performing arts photographer is to capture the magic moments when the artist goes within him or herself during the performance. The artist knows when it happens and the audience experiences that moment also. Many times following the performance, the artists contact me and request copies of the photographs for their own use for PR purposes. Several of my photographs have appeared in Symphony Magazine as well as Dance Magazine and various blogs (e.g., The Rest is Noise). Examples at allenlefohn.com

    My belief is that exciting photographs that capture those magic moments can be used to promote the arts for audience development, financial corporate sponsors, and government financial assistance. All we need is a little more creativity applied!

    • It is one of my life goals as a headshot / portrait photographer, to capture each individual’s image so they can accurately represent themselves in this online/visual generation along with program and promotional art world. The most interesting and compelling portrait comes from contrast, the “manager photo” tends to be stale and lifeless for lack of that. I work with each model to evoke the genuine express by poses and breath that read convincingly on the lens, screen and print.

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