How to Prepare for Campus Photo Shoots So You Get the Most Bang For Your Buck

Posted on February 11, 2019

Every fall and spring, our team packs our bags and heads out to our clients’ campuses to capture imagery that is both beautiful and authentic. We work with students, alums, faculty, and senior leadership to get the best shots of them in their most natural environments, keeping in mind your recruitment materials, your upcoming marketing initiatives, and of course, your budget. On that note, as you well know, photo shoots are an investment. 

While it may look effortless as you’re scrolling through the galleries, the work and dollars that go into planning and executing a photo shoot is nothing to lose sight of. To get the most bang for your buck, preparation is key. Here are a few pointers to make your next photo shoot a success.

Ask your agency for a preparation
document

Photo shoots are tough to schedule, and they’re even tougher when you’re trying to maneuver around what the agency needs from the creative perspective. To help ease your stress, ask your agency partner to write up a preparation document for you that outlines the key areas that they’d like to capture on campus, the timeframe in which they’d like to run the shoot in, specific profiles that they need, and so forth. This will save you time as you build the schedule and will minimize the hours spent going back and forth with the agency.

Run a casting session

You’d be surprised to know that more often than not, people want to participate in a photo shoot. So instead of chasing students around campus as they’re walking to their next class, schedule and advertise a casting session ahead of time for students to sign up for the shoot in the time slots that work for them, take their headshots, and jot down their key info (major, class year, internship experience, hometown). Hand this info over to your agency and work together on reaching out to your chosen participants to help build the schedule.

Make personal requests

In addition to a casting call, if you know there’s a student with a good story that you’d like to highlight, send a personal request. If there’s a faculty member who has just earned national recognition in their field, reach out personally. There are standout individuals on every campus (star athletes, student government, high-achieving scholars, social mavens, etc.) and often the only way to get a spot in their busy schedule is to make a personal request. (Also, when casting, be sure to keep diversity in mind — diversity in gender, class year, race, ethnicity, style, major, socio-economic background, etc.)

Let everyone on campus know a shoot is happening!  

Nothing can be more distracting (and at times, very stressful) than to have an on-campus security guard issuing your photographer parking tickets for parking in the faculty lot or to have the building manager of the campus center in a huff because the agency has set up shop in the middle of one of their hallways. To ensure a smooth shoot, drop a note out to the key facilities managers and department heads to let them know that a team will be on campus for a photo shoot, and that there may be interruptions to classes or production vans parked in the campus visit lot. This will save you some of those awkward conversations during shoot days, allowing you to focus on the task at hand.

Lean on your agency

At the end of the day, your agency is there to make the photo shoots productive, stress-free, and fun. So when it comes to distributing release forms for students to sign, following the schedule so the team runs on time, and making sure everyone is fed, make sure you’re connecting with your account lead from the agency; we’re there to make sure everything is handled. Your only job on the shoot should be to connect with necessary faculty and staff members, and bask in the awesome feedback that you get when your institution receives the beautiful galleries from the shoot for which you took the lead in planning.

For more on photo shoots, check out this oldie-but-goodie blog post, 7 Things We Love About Campus Photo Shoots.

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