Key Tips on Taking Great Portrait Photos for Your Album Cover

An album cover is what the typical music buyer sees whenever they’re shopping for music at a record shop or when downloading a song at an online music store. Thus, it’s important for you to present an album cover that would draw people to your music. You can come up with any concept for your album cover, but a tried and tested one is a portrait photo of either you or your band. However, you wouldn’t want your album cover to become part of the worst ones of all time. So here are some key tips on how to take great portrait photos for your album cover:

1. Wear clothes that represent you or your band’s chosen music genre. 

Your album cover should give a music buyer an idea of what to expect once they purchase your record and play it in its entirety. The clothes you or your band had chosen to wear should be indicative of your musical style once you start taking portrait photos for your album cover.

For instance, if you’re a country musician or in a country band, you should try dressing the part by wearing a hat and plaid shirt for your portrait photos. You can’t wear a denim jacket with metal band logo patches sewn onto it unless you want to get buyers of your album confused as to if it’s a metal or country record.

2. Find an interesting location for portrait photos of yourself or your band. 

Taking portrait photos for your album cover in a controlled indoor environment might ruin your record sales as most music buyers these days are becoming more discerning when it comes to purchasing albums. Besides, wouldn’t you want your album cover to be more than a generic studio-shot portrait photo with you or your band in it?

You might thus want to take portrait photos outdoors. Where you plan to do so is entirely up to you. However, you’ll want to include any easily recognizable landmark that your chosen location has to offer and find suitable angles to take pictures as well.

For example, if you or your band are in Chicago and you want to feature a prominent landmark from the city, you can take portrait photos from the structure’s different positions. But if you feel that you’re better off having a professional do the work for you, you should consider hiring the best Chicago portrait photographer that you can afford.

If you end up getting the perfect pictures that just need tweaked a bit, check out to make them perfect.

3. Take creative risks.

Your album cover should stand out from those put out by so many musicians and bands in the same music genre as yours. After all, you’ll want music buyers to purchase your record and not somebody else’s.

Thus, you should start coming up with a concept for your album cover that hasn’t been done by anyone before. You should be careful though when pursuing this as it can either make or break your record.


You may have finished recording an entire album’s worth of music. But if most people find your album cover terrible, your record will most likely end up in the bargain bin of some record shop or even snubbed altogether at some online music  store. Your album cover can affect your entire music career, so you should start applying the above-listed key tips on how to take great portrait photos for it. After all, you’ll want your record to sell off the rack and for yourself to gain a massive following.

Michael Schacht

Michael Schacht is a portrait photographer and photography educator based in Chicago Illinois. As owner/operator of 312 Elements Headshot Photography located in Chicago’s West Loop neighborhood, Michael overseas the day to day operations and has had the opportunity to photograph thousands of corporate professionals over the last decade. Through his direction, attention to detail, and people skills, he’s helped these clients to craft a narrative around their personal brand.


This Post Has One Comment

    Jim Mueller

    Michael, nice piece. I would add, consider hiring a photographer who specializes in cover photography. Nashville has a rich list of capable pros.

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