Since the birth of digital media, the parameters of the advertising campaign have been in constant flux. Along with traditional printed products, the rise of social media means that most companies now also need content to populate multiple social media channels, all with their own content requirements. With this in mind, the images shot during an advertising campaign often need to be multi-faceted, fulfilling a long list of requirements to meet the expectations of each channel.
In this article, I’ll talk you through the process of planning and shooting your own multi-channel campaign. As a practical example, I'll be using the Spring Summer 2016 campaign I shot for UK based retro-luxe loungewear designer Betty Blue’s. Working with lingerie designer Betty Hobcraft, our aim was to create a collection of editorial photographs to feature across the brand’s website, printed materials, banners and social media platforms.
Start at the end
When shooting images for a multi-channel campaign, its really important to have a clear focus on the overall campaign and how/where it will be seen. For example, your main focus for the shoot might be populating your client’s website – but with brands now active on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+ and Pinterest (and Snapchat, although we’ll discuss live and location workflows another time) you will need more than one image in a variety of orientations and ratios to cover every single platform effectively.
You’ll also want images suitable for print formats, including a portrait shot with plenty of negative space at the top for a magazine title (or below for running copy - as shown here) and a completely indulgent, double-page-spread hero shot. Even if print isn’t the main focus of the shoot, it's good to have these just in case the campaign goes viral and started getting lots of attention.
Make a checklist of what you need, including the required image formats for each platform, so that you can tick them off on the day once they’ve been photographed. This way, you’ll know you’ve not missed anything out.
Curate an idea
Next, schedule some time to plan what you want to want to achieve with your images. I often find the best way to focus ideas – especially when working with a team – is to create a Pinterest board of ideas and inspiration. This should include information on colour schemes, styling, posing and anything else you feel is important to the shoot. A well-thought-out concept board will have a coherent theme and style that should portray your concept at a glance.
The inspiration board Betty and I used to plan this shoot had a strong colour theme of pinks and purples that ran through the board, as did the theme of a boudoir setting. This played a massive role in deciding on the location for the editorial images, Eaton House Studios.
Another key element I took from this was the choice poses, combining a mix of high fashion and boudoir with plenty of eye contact with the camera. This also had an influence on who would be chosen to model, Miss Deadly Red.
Tell a story
As the saying goes, ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’. Every image in your campaign should have its own narrative. Betty’s Tempest set was inspired by burlesque star Tempest Storm and the infamous Tease-o-rama video clip of Tempest Storm and Bettie Page. So the narrative concept behind this campaign was to show the playful side of getting dressed up (and hints of getting undressed) in the boudoir.
The slip of a ribbon off the shoulder is just enough of a hint at what might happen next.
Know your audience
Alongside narrative, another key tool for a successful campaign shoot is for the images evoke an emotion or reaction that will stop a viewer in their tracks. We are bombarded with visual stimulation on a daily basis, so spend time researching what your target audience responds to best and channel that energy into your shoot. Miss Deadly Red’s interaction with the camera is provocative and yet intimate, inviting the viewer to take on the role of her lover.
Also think about how your images will work on the different levels of social media: public (Twitter, Instagram), personal (Facebook), private (Snapchat, Facebook Messenger, Twitter DMs). A more revealing shot from this shoot (like this one) might not get as many likes or shares as a tamer one from more publicly prudish people – but might get messaged to partners more. Shooting for all opportunities gives your photos the chance to engage more people.
For shots that you want to grab the eye on social media, depth of field is your friend – as it automatically draw focus to the most important part of the image. You can do this in camera by selecting a wider aperture (try F1.2-F2.8).
Here’s a great example of this in action, drawing your eye to the front view of Miss Deadly Red, rather than the back view that is closer to the camera. Just make sure that all of the important part of your image is in focus.
For more tips on getting the best from your camera, check out my 15 Photography Tips and Techniques for Perfect Photos.
Don’t be lazy
The key to getting a great series of images that will work across multiple channels is variety. Don’t rely on the model to switch things up between shots. Get up, move around your environment. Change angles. Change camera orientation. Change lenses.