What's It Like at a Photo Shoot?

Ads Then and Now


Mast Store’s ads have changed over the years. From the text-only representations from the 1920s and 1940s to the image-rich digital and print advertisements you see today, they are still tasked with communicating a message and sharing our values. We’re going to pull back the curtain, just a little, to give you a glimpse of what happens at a photo shoot.

What happens behind the photographer?First, the number of “photo shoots” that happen over the course of the year can vary. For weekly ads, we probably use our own photography at least 40 weeks out of the year. For those remaining weeks, we throw all the way back to catalog paste-up from the early 1900s using old-school graphics for end-of-season clearance sales and certain holidays – like the 4th of July.

Each ad is always a little different – the focus may be big enough to warrant a single photo or so focused that each product or category has its own “mini” shoot. And then there are the digital representations, which may be totally different than our print and in-store ads. These might be a vendor focus, a special offer, a new arrival, or even a location story. Planning is critical.

Here’s how it starts – for weekly ads, our buyers submit products that pertain to the ad focus. Then the brainstorming begins. Ad confabs sometimes happen by the “big rock” between the Marketing Department and the Home Office – especially when it’s good weather.

From beginning to end...From there, the list of needs is made – do we need models; what about a location; can we take these in the studio; do we have a current photo we can use; are there other elements we should incorporate; what’s everybody’s sizes; (and our favorite…) can we take this biscuit and gravy mix out of stock to make it (let’s eat!!)?

Once that’s decided and all of the needs are gathered, it’s off to the shoot. For an on-site shoot, it can take anywhere from a half hour to 15+ hours (no joke, one shoot started at 5:30 p.m. and ended at 8:15 a.m.), but the average is maybe a couple hours. The “grander” the image, the longer the shot will take.

When all of the shots are taken, it’s back to the computer to review the work and to start picking our favorites. When the pictures are chosen, they are optimized, cropped, and resized before being dropped into the ad template. Whatever photo we take, several different iterations are saved for future use – horizontal and vertical versions, etc. In addition to weekly ads, you’ll find Mast Store ads in travel and visitor guides, magazines – like Southern Living and Our State, and digital publications like some online magazines and newspapers.

When we make it to the end of the process, it all begins again.

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