For a magician, coming up with a promo picture, that doesn’t involve the ubiquitous “Magic Hands” pose, is a challenge. But creating an image of someone who does magical things and is funny, is almost impossible.
Good promo shots need to look professional, and must be an actual representation of what you are going to look like when you show up at the gig. So, there are a few ways you can go. One way is to just get a nice, clean shot of yourself, wearing what you usually wear to perform, and hope the photographer captures something about your personality that will sell your show. This is by far the most popular approach that I have seen. It can be anything from a standard waist-up shot, to a shot of the performer, wearing something “Magical”, and holding some prop that is associated with magicians in general. And for the multi-talented performer, I have often seen shots of them holding not only a magic prop, but also a vent dummy and some juggling props. These shots say, “This is what I look like, and these are some of the things I use in my show. This approach works fine.
If you are the adventurous type, you can go one step further. You can try to capture a moment in your performance that gives the viewer an idea of what it’s like to see you perform. This is more difficult because you have to pick the right moment to present, while still accomplishing the basics – professional, personality, and relevant props.
Then there is the approach I have taken since I began doing promo shots; designing a shot that conveys your personal style of performing. (Assuming you have one.) Something that reveals not only your personality, but also your energy and attitude. (Again, assuming you possess these attributes.) This means thinking outside of the box, and trying to connect with the viewer on an emotional level. I think I have gotten better at it over the years, and I have enjoyed the challenge every time.
However, the absolute best advice I could give you would be this – when you find a photographer that you like, one who gets the shot you want, NEVER LET THEM GO! Almost all of my promo shots have been done by Scott Walz. He is easy to work with, creative, and a truly gifted photographer. Whenever we do a shoot, I prepare beforehand for days. I come in with the image I am hoping to capture already worked out; either in my head or on paper. Then I make sure that my wife Gretchen is at the shoot. She makes sure I am looking my best, and that we are getting the shot we came in to get. Having a third creative person, who knows you and your brand at the shoot, can make the difference between a good photo and a great photo. In fact, we just shot a new one that will go live very soon.
Of course, once you get that really great promo pic onto your site, you have one more thing to accomplish. You have to live up to the expectations your client has gotten from the viewing the photo.