Most of us are either greying or grey haired, balding or bald and some of us are paunchy or simply overweight. But so are a lot of these guys and gals pictured below. (Have a quick look at the photos below and then scroll back)
While they have their status as rock legends and many other advantages over us, you could say that we have one advantage over them, and that is, that no-one is likely to be comparing us with our younger selves.
Here are a few things that I think we should consider about how we look in photographs. Forgive me if I come on like an avuncular rock-version of Trinny or Suzannah. I just wanna spark some discussion around the subject.
I think it is best that we don’t try to look 21. This will do us no favours and more likely make us a laughing stock and perpetuate prejudice. Now, if you are blessed with a physique like Mick Jagger or Iggy Pop and have managed to remain paunchless, and/or you have a headful of hair, and/or play in a heavy metal band, then maybe you can get away with wearing a t-shirt in photographs, but generally these don’t flatter the ageing rocker. Personally, I would also avoid T-shirts bearing slogans as this does tend to appear somewhat immature. I think T-shirts are more acceptable in a live situation but in general, button-down shirts look more mature. As do suits and suit jackets with jeans. We’re never gonna fool anybody about our age, so we should accept, and embrace it.
Think about your image. Try and imagine that Annie Leibovitz was photographing you; how would you like to be portrayed? I think people accept, admire, even respect, the eccentric or mad uncle look; I’m thinking about Nick Cave, below, as an example, his hair-line is receding, and he dyes his hair, but he still has a distinct image – handle bar moustache or not - and there’s a maturity about his image too. This is largely because he avoids T-shirts and jeans.
Wearing dark colours seems to help cover the less flattering bits and pieces too. Notice that most of these bands below are wearing black – this is not a coincidence.
Try a hat. Hats are a useful part of the mature musician’s wardrobe; see Neil Young and Bob Dylan, below. Take The Edge for example, he’s obviously as bald as a coot and has been for years. So rather cleverly he has kept a woolly hat on for years to perpetuate a more youthful image – grey goatee or not.
Studio or indoor shoots seem to work better than location photographs, which tend to call for full-body shots. These are less flattering of the mature musician. On the other hand, I’m sure they are more expensive. See the location photograph of the Stranglers (right at the bottom) which, I think you’ll agree is best avoided. Live shots can work, but they have to be taken professionally to make the grade. There are a few good ones on this site.
And, one last thought: is a record sleeve or a graphic a cop out? Maybe not, if you are not confident of your appearance.
So, if we are gonna convince the general public that we are worth listening to and coming to watch, shouldn’t we show them that we care about our image too? Whether the issue is time or money, or lack of confidence, I don’t think we should give up on trying to look like rock musicians, as opposed to IT workers or builders.
I welcome your thoughts.