A Picture is Worth A Thousand Words: Why Campaigns Need Good Images

A Picture is Worth A Thousand Words: Why Campaigns Need Good Images

We’ve all heard the English axiom that a picture is worth a thousand words.

Whether you believe that or not, I’m amazed at how many campaigns and candidates have little to no quality pictures and images to help communicate their message to voters.

The truth is, most potential candidates, candidates and campaigns simply don’t give pictures and the images they’re conveying much thought.

This is astonishing given how much time and resources (sometimes too much so) spend on logos, taglines and “branding.”

My big question to potential candidates, candidates, campaigns and campaign operatives is what good is all that “branding” if you can’t bring it to life?

The good news is this problem can be easily fixed and even help bring your campaign message and brand into focus.

There are a few issues to work through and this article will address them.

What type of pictures do you need?

Many candidates and campaigns have a candidate headshot and spend a lot of time, money and energy on getting that headshot.

While a headshot is important to have, it’s not the ONLY picture you need.

You’ll also need images that convey action and demonstrate what you would actually do for your potential constituent.

Walking, talking, working, listening, learning or speaking with others will be critical images to embed in voters’ minds.

You should also determine which types of folks you want to be conversing with. Do you want to be walking and talking with veterans? Listening to seniors?

The questions and answers you posit will give you a great direction not just for a photo shoot but your entire campaign.

What pictures should you avoid?

As much as you can, avoid “staged” pictures. A candidate with someone else or some other politician looking straight to camera doesn’t convey action and may not show voters exactly what you’d like them to see.

Again, look to have a little more activity in the photo if possible.

Sometimes, good family photos are hard to come by. I understand that. But, it’s hard to use family photos that are only taken at holidays. It’s strange in a Spring or Summer primary or Fall General Election to see a family of seven all clad in Christmas sweaters. The question these images invoke is can’t these folks get together any other time of year.

A simple rule of thumb for pictures is that you don’t want them to create more questions than answers.

Are my Facebook pictures good enough?

The answer is not likely. Your pictures need to be high resolution. Facebook and other social media sites reduce the picture files to save on space. This means if you take your pictures from those sites and then try to use them in your own advertising they probably won’t be the quality you need to put your best foot forward.

How important are pictures during the campaign?

Taking pictures throughout your campaign is critical to telling the story of your campaign and showing action to supporters and potential voters. This can be another way to get buy-in to your candidacy.

If your campaign has the ability, you should have a volunteer or staff member that has taking pictures on their to-do list at events where the campaign has a presence.

Do I need to hire a professional photographer?

My advice is to hire a professional photographer but it’s critical that you know the shots you need/want to get in a particular shoot. Make your list of different shots you’d like, get the people you want to have in those shots and bring different wardrobes so it doesn’t look like you took all of your pictures on the same day.

If you can’t use a professional photographer, you still need a plan and when possible use the best photography equipment you have at your disposal.

Remember that in a professional photo shoot it typically takes 50 pictures to get to one good image. Regardless of which way you get your pictures made, don’t be afraid to take your time and make sure you get the images you want.

Campaigns spend a lot of time and money trying to put its best foot forward, as they should.

Unfortunately, far too many campaigns don’t think having good images of the candidate, candidate’s family and images that convey their key message points are part of that.

Before you run or run again, get some quality pictures. It will serve you well in the future campaigns but it will also help preserve memories that will last a lifetime.

Sean Bartley has earned a reputation for his ability to build campaigns that are professional, aggressive and known for giving his candidates their best chance at victory.  In addition to campaigns, Sean has worked as a communications consultant for the oil and gas industry and as a legislative aide in the Ohio House of Representatives.

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