Political Campaign Photography Matters

Let's get this out of the way right upfront. That wedding photo you were in 2 years ago ain't gonna cut it. That cropped, poorly lit, and grainy photo of you standing with some politician isn't going to work either.

Consider the photos you will be placing on your website, marketing, and social media platforms as important as how you dress for a job interview.

For your website, social media, and news media visitors, you want that first impression to look and feel as you are already in office dressed for the job.

When you look and feel great on camera, your audience will be able to focus on whatever it is you’re trying to communicate (instead of that wrinkled shirt).

Get the Legal Stuff Out of the Way FIRST

Negotiate to receive all the images and their rights immediately from the photographer. There is no special exemption for political campaign photography, negotiate what you want. You need to spell this out in writing. Get that out of the way and into the overall fee for everyone’s sake. Here is a sample release form you can to use.

What Not to Wear

  1. Prints and patterns and Logos are a definite NO. Avoid prints of any kind and patterns. No matter how small the print or the pattern, it will become a distraction. In the case of digital portraits, in particular, small patterns in clothing (even a small herring-bone or checkered pattern) can cause terrible distortions to appear in the portrait that weren't originally there and attempting to fix it with editing software can become a fruitless task.
  2. Avoid short sleeve clothing and short pants. Long-sleeved clothing is a MUST! For casual portraits, it is equally important to wear long pants instead of shorts. When arms and legs are exposed to the camera there will be more skin viewable in the photograph in those areas than on the face, itself. This is a major distraction.
  3. Don’t over-accessorize! Overbearing or heavily noticeable accessories can be a major distraction. A simple U.S. or State Flag lapel pin is all you need.
  4. Don't wear reflective glasses. Eyeglasses may or may not be worn. Non-reflective lenses, of course, are a big help. Better yet, sometimes it’s possible to obtain a matching set of frames without any lenses. This is particularly helpful if your lenses sometimes distort the outline of your face.
  5. Avoid white, bright red and all-black outfits. All three of these colors pose technical problems. For instance, before shooting, your photographer will adjust the camera exposure for your face, so if you’re wearing a bright white top, that top will glow. (A small amount of white is okay peeking out from under a jacket and tie, but your best bet is to opt for a light blue.)
  6. Avoid wearing all black. Black poses the same problem. When the camera exposure is correct on your face, black looks too dark or “crushed.” The definition of your garment will be lost, so you’ll look shapeless.

    Avoid black altogether if possible unless you plan on having your makeup done by a professional who can color correct for shadows on the face. Wearing black on camera can make dark circles appear more pronounced, giving you a more tired look and can casts shadows on the skin creating an aging effect.

    Bright red sometimes “bleeds” on camera, giving off a slight, hazy halo.

Plan Some Location Ideas

Don’t just take photos in your back yard hope for the best. Choose a variety of locations that are reflective and iconic to your district in advance. Whether it’s a business, City Hall, State Capitol, main street’s sidewalk or park, you want to be sure that you’ll have access to it. We also recommend doing as many outside as possible; natural light looks better and saves you time and money on lighting. Save any indoor shots for the very end of the day, or at noon when the light outdoors won’t be flattering. Be sure to get any legal, business or union permission for your shooting locations.

Don't Wear The Same Thing at Every Location

The candidate being photographed should change outfits at least 3 times throughout the day and should have a range of business casual to business suits available. You wouldn’t wear a suit to a park, so pack some khakis and a nice top for that location. Conversely, that would look unprofessional at a job site or business, so the candidate should have a suit on deck and ready. Have the photographer take headshots at every location in every outfit in addition to the photos with volunteers. This will add a lot of options to your headshot catalog, and you’ll need a lot. Trust us, you'll never have enough.

Makeup, Hair & Nails

Hairstyles should be SIMPLE and MUST be off the face. Hair falling down onto the sides of the face tend to create distracting shadows. Bangs that fall too low onto the face can keep light from reaching the subject’s eyes which is the most important part of the face. It is always a great idea to have your make up and hair professionally applied for your photography session. It will make a huge difference in how you look and feel. Be sure to book a stylist well before your shoot. Your nails should be well-manicured and no chipped nail polish.

Proper Necklines for a Portrait.

The most flattering neckline for anyone is something that comes up close to the neck. A wide-open neckline tends to thicken the neck in a photograph. On the other hand, a neckline that comes up to the base of the neck – a turtleneck at the public park or a v-neck top is the most flattering. It tends to slim down the person and frames the face beautifully.

Different Angles

Be sure to get a front, left side, and right side shots to include sitting, standing and various positions so they can be used on the left, center or right sides of various media as sampled in the graphic below.


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