Preparing for a campaign photo shoot involves more than just having a few outfits picked out for the candidate and a camera at the ready.
To get the shots you need for several effective mail pieces, it often takes a full day — and then some. Usually, there will be more than one location involved, the aforementioned wardrobe changes, and some timely volunteer management. Don’t forget about the catering, either.
We advise clearing the candidate’s schedule for the day to prepare for any unexpected eventualities. They will come up, but here’s what you can do to ensure you’re prepared.
Create a timeline for the day
Map your day down to the minute, including travel time, lunch breaks, makeup sessions and wardrobe changes. Then assign someone the task of time keeper to keep production on schedule. Be sure to include addresses and contact information for each location on the day’s printout, which should be given to each assigned staffer and the candidate.
Although most smartphones (and newer cars) have GPS, consider giving printed directions to the photographer, principal and any volunteers and staff that’ll be participating in the shoot at the different locations.
Rally the troops
Gather some volunteers to help plan and manage logistics for your photo shoot. You’ll need help with location scouting (more on that below), recruiting “extras,” shuttling staffers and other participants, managing food, and collecting release forms from your volunteer models.
You’ll also need plenty of people willing to step in front of the camera. Your extras should reflect the diversity of your district, city, or state and help highlight the message you want to convey.
It helps to give recruits some perspective on the candidate and his or her vision. Moreover, explain to prospective participants that their image will be sent to thousands of households in the region. Although everyone is required to sign a release that explains how his or likeness will be used, you’d be surprised how many people just don’t understand what the photo shoot is all about. Talk with your mail vendor ahead of time to get a sense of what you should be aiming for to meet all of your campaign’s needs.
Scout your locations
Your location choices will depend on your message. Common locations include senior centers, blue-collar work sites, schools, parks, neighborhoods, firehouses, and small businesses. Try to find as many locations within walking distance of each other as possible to minimize travel times. For instance, look for a park next to a school that’s adjacent to a senior center.
Visit each potential location before the production day and take note of the parking situation, size of the location, restrooms, lighting and access to electrical outlets. Visit several locations before confirming your choice – and have a backup.
Raid the candidate’s closet
You’ll need casual options, business casual outfits and a suit or pant suit or two for the candidate. Be sure to bring more than you think you’ll need. Certain colors and patterns don’t work well on camera and you certainly don’t want the candidate wearing the same thing in every shot.
Also, this will likely be the day (thank you, Murphy’s Law) that the candidate drops a huge dollop of ketchup or coffee on his or her shirt. Normally, that would send you running for a clean option. But after reading this, you’ll be prepared and have another shirt close by to keep the production on schedule.
Jennifer Beytin is creative director of The Beytin Agency, a Democratic direct mail and digital advertising firm.