How to Get Great Photos on a Budget for Musicians

Article by: Nita Chawla & Philip Garcia
VQS Advice Blog | Cover Image Dstudio Bcn

Great visuals are just as important as our sound if not more so.

As music creators we have so many expenses to cover when it comes to our music including recording costs, mixing, mastering, promotion and more. If done well, great photos can give people an immediate impression of our vibe and sound whether it be for a single, album or that season of our artist career.

It can be stressful to add on one more expense to the budget or figure out where to even find the right photographer. Here are my 5 tips for getting great photos that don’t have to break the bank.

1.  How to Find the Right Photographer

lights camera action film shoot

If you are anything like me, taking photos initially felt uncomfortable and unnatural! I’m comfortable and confident when I have my instrument in hand. Standing in front of a camera however makes me feel awkward and uneasy.

Do I pose? Do I smile? Am I too serious?

What I’ve found is that my most favorite shoots were with photographers who I felt comfortable with! They felt like a friend and put me at ease. I think it’s so important because it really shows on camera when you feel comfortable enough and are being yourself! And that’s what people really want to see.

So just take a little time and maybe have a conversation with a potential photographer on the phone first. Trust your instincts and go with someone who makes you feel like you’re going to have fun and can be yourself!

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2. What if There is No Budget?

broke no money budget
photo by Fabian Blank

What happens when the funds are low?

Work with a photographer who’s just starting off, wants to experiment with photography and/or build their portfolio. I know this may seem risky however, we have to start somewhere.

With my first photoshoot, I felt a sense of comfort and trust with my photographer, which is really what I believe made the photos work well. If you’re on a budget and/or just starting off with taking photos, it can be fun to work with someone who is experimenting, because then there’s also less pressure on you to feel to make it perfect. Oftentimes the photos come out even better because everyone’s just having fun!

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3. How to Break Out of Your Comfort Zone

woman showing her hand
Photo by MIXU on

While I’ve talked a lot about feeling comfortable in front of the camera, sometimes…

…it’s also good to be challenged.

My most favorite shoot was at the beach with my friend in Palos Verdes, CA. On the way there she told me she was gonna push me. She thought she’d be met with resistance, but I felt pretty open and ready for adventure that day!

Work with someone who is willing to push you in a healthy way and who wants to take risks! It’s all about having fun and you never know what’s going to get captured. Some photos will be bad, but there’ll be great ones in there!

top view photo of rocky shore
Photo by Pok Rie on

She totally got me out on the rocks, in the water and rolling around in the sand. I honestly don’t like being in the water in general, but her energy was inspiring, so I just went for it! I also felt 100% comfortable with her, so I was willing to go there.

4. How to Find the Right Location

young woman with map looking away on city street
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on

Sometimes we might feel like we need to rent out a really fancy location for our photoshoot. But there are plenty of good locations that are free!

The great outdoors are perfect whether it be the beach, the park or a hiking trail. Or maybe you want a more urban look, so you can choose a cool wall, an ally, or the street to get this vibe!

Photo By: Matt Duncan

I have done some fun and crazy things like crouching down in front of a bush, walking down the middle of the street (with traffic stopped behind me so I had to be quick!), laying in the sand or on the branch of a tree.

Nature offers so much beauty, great lighting and many options, so that is my particular favorite! But you can make any location work if you choose the right angle and have some good colors to give a vibe.

5. How to Stay Creative and Inspired

This could just be a personal thing, but if you’re like me and never know what to do in front of a camera, it can be nice to have some direction and guidance. But for anyone who’s still learning to get comfortable with how to work the camera, having a photographer who can take the lead is helpful!

Now I’m not talking about someone who’s bossing you around or forcing you to be unnatural, but more like someone who can just lead you into poses or expressions that you might not think of. So if it suits you, go for someone who’s able to give you that guidance and extra boost of confidence.


  1. How to Find the Right Photographer
  2. What if There is No Budget?
  3. How to Break Out of Your Comfort Zone
  4. How to Find the Right Location
  5. How to Stay Creative and Inspired

How will you use these tools and ideas in your journey? We’d love to hear from you.

Article by: Nita Chawla & Philip Garcia

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About the Author
LA based video creator, producer and media coach.
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