Decide on your campaign photographer.
Some campaigns hire a professional photographer to take their campaign photos, which is a great option. But, with high-quality smartphone cameras, you can still take strong photos without a professional. As you are planning your campaign budget, decide if you’ll be using a professional photographer for your shoot. If not, see who in your network (or household – depending on current COVID-19 safety guidelines) has a smartphone or camera and is available to help out. If your photos are going to be used in print materials (like a walk card or mailer), we recommend using a camera that can shoot high-res photos that meet the print 300 DPI (dots per inch) standard. Here is a helpful article on how to take high-res photos on your iPhone!
Read up on photography tips, tricks, and best practices.
Even if you’re planning on hiring a professional photographer, it’s a great idea to brush up on some photography best practices to get an idea of what kind of photos you like to take. Our team loves this blog from Hubspot about how to take a great headshot photo and this article from Time about how to take high-quality photos on your smartphone.
Plan your outfits.
To cut down on day-of stress, we recommend setting out the clothes you’d like to wear a couple of days before your scheduled photoshoot. Think through some outfits that you feel comfortable and professional in, and that feel authentic to you as a candidate. Trying on outfits a couple days beforehand will also avoid the panicked moment of discovering a stain on a favorite sweater or fraying hem on your pants just as you’re running out the door.
There are no set “rules” here – for example, if you haven’t worn a suit in 15 years, don’t feel like you need to for your photos. As a general guideline, think about choosing clothes in colors that compliment your campaign colors – which will likely be featured on your mailers and ads. We also recommend staying away from any “busy” patterns or neon colors, and make sure your clothes don’t have any prominent logos that could cause copyright issues.
Beyond those considerations, we recommend wearing what you feel most comfortable and most “you” in. This will come across in the photos.
Compile a “shot list” and schedule before you head out.
Before heading out for the day, create a list of all the photos you’d like to take. It’ll help you plan your locations, outfits, and schedule, and make the day much less stressful for you and your team. It’s especially helpful to think about the campaign’s core message as you are brainstorming locations and themes. As an example, if you’re running on a platform promoting community access to outdoor spaces, a photo of you in your local park or community garden would be a great addition to your shot list (and your mail piece!).
And feel free to get creative to maximize time. If you’re packing many different locations into the day, the playset in your backyard could work just as well as the playground at your local park, and may allow you to limit stops you need to make along the way.
Remember to also take a couple of standard headshot photos, such as you in a neutral color against a non-distracting background. You can use these as a profile photo or in campaign materials.
Pro tip: Be sure to check the weather a couple of days before, and have a back-up plan to either reschedule or move your locations indoors should it rain or snow!
Review the photos as you shoot.
One of the key benefits to digital photography is that you can preview your photos in real time. During a break, take a quick look to make sure you’re happy with your shots!
This is also a great time to do a quick check of the background and scan for anything that could ruin a great photo. A misplaced coffee cup, an awkward passerby, or your opponent’s lawn sign can all ruin an otherwise perfect shot.
Make sure you have permission from anyone in your photos.
If your photoshoot includes friends or community members, it’s a good idea to make sure you have written permission from anyone featured to use their photo in your campaign materials. This document is sometimes called a “waiver.” It’s a great opportunity to explain that photos could be featured on mailers, in social media posts, or even in a TV ad. And make sure that everyone who is participating feels comfortable with their photo being used!
Get some action shots.
In addition to a headshot, make sure you also capture some action shots of you interacting with voters and local community members. Ultimately, you are running to serve them, so it’ll be important to be able to show that in your campaign media or on your website.
A note from the SpeakEasy team: Some of these tips were written before the COVID-19 pandemic, and we strongly encourage you to make sure your photoshoot complies with your local public safety guidelines to make sure everyone on your team stays safe and healthy. Many of these photo tips can also be applied at-home photoshoots – with a household member as your photographer – to take great campaign photos and still adhere to all social distancing measures!