As an event photographer in the Washington DC area, I photograph a large number of Advocacy Days each year. There are several different names for what is basically the same thing. Advocacy Day, Fly-in Day, Hill Visit day. Almost all trade associations, health advocacy, and nonprofits have some interests that they’d like represented in Washington DC. For example, cancer research, mental health, air traffic control, environmental interest groups. It is always interesting to be a part of Lobbying Day in Washington and get to experience meetings all over Capitol Hill. I wanted to give some insight into what Advocacy Day for a photographer looks like and give some tips on how to get the most “bang for your buck” when securing event photography for your Hill visits.
I usually photograph 20-30 Hill Visit/ Advocacy Day events each year. I always like to get a schedule of meetings on both sides of Capitol Hill. There are usually some meetings that the client considers particularly important. The importance of a meeting is usually based on whether the member of Congress is going to be present, or if it includes a particularly high profile member of Congress. Along with a schedule of meeting the client would like me to attend I always find it helpful to have some alternates. Schedules change really quickly on the Hill so Members of the House and Senate often get called into committee and last-minute votes.
Event Photography. Things to Consider
There are some things to take into consideration when scheduling your event photography if you are interested in getting the best use out of their time. First off, it is a good idea to take into consideration that a photographer may walk 7-10 miles on Hill Advocacy Day. Make sure to give them time to get from one meeting to the next. Make the most of your photographer’s time by doing your best to schedule them consecutively in either the Senate or the House buildings for as long as possible. Try to keep in mind that it’s about a 20-minute walk from the Senate Office Buildings to any of the House Office Buildings. Take into account, for example, that it takes 10-15 minutes to walk from Canon to Rayburn on the House side and from Hart to Russell, on the Senate side. Remember that with back to back meetings, the photographer will need to either leave one early or arrive at one late.
Your photographer wants to spend their time getting the images that you want. The photographs that tell the story of your advocacy efforts. Often these are emotionally charged photos or other photographs that can be used for marketing throughout the rest of the year. By taking travel time, security, and the meeting schedule into consideration when planning the events you want them to attend will assure that you get more photos of the events and meetings.
Useful resources. Here’s a map of the US Capitol
Being an event photographer in the DC area, I have gained tremendous experience providing event photography that helps organizations engage their audiences and increase the impact of their future lobbying efforts.