While soundbites provide the ubiquitous “gotcha” moment in politics, visual content remains the bread and butter for campaigns that are trying to position their candidates as approachable and authentic.
From website hero images to Instagram selfies, visuals transcend the fickleness of the news cycle and provide a curated way for candidates to control the narrative and shape how the public views their personality.
It’s become commonplace for campaigns from city council seats to the presidency hire professional photographers to provide both traditional marketing images (e.g., a smiling portrait) and more photojournalistic-style stump photos.
Part of the reason is practical; many news outlets and freelance photojournalists are reluctant to commercially license their images for politics because of the perception of bias in a profession that strives for neutrality.
One need look no further than Pete Souza, former President Obama’s photographer, to understand the value of a great photographer with unfettered access.
Souza’s images, combined with the revolutionary idea to distribute them via Flickr, made the Obama presidency the most visually-driven in history.