How to Run for Office: Taking Good Campaign Pictures - National Democratic Training Committee

A picture really IS worth a thousand words. Political campaign photos can tell your story for you. Pictures are essential to any communications strategy you’re using for your campaign.

Think about it: when was the last time you saw a website without pictures?

Use Pictures to Communicate and Document Moments

Above all, it is vital that you take and use pictures of your campaign. It is a great way to connect with your supporters. Since a large portion of your voters might not meet you in person, having inviting political campaign photos help to have a face to put to the name of the person they’re voting for.

Don’t ignore the importance of taking photos on the campaign trail!

A Good Phone Can Provide a Great Photo

Any good photo starts with the equipment you’re using. You don’t need to race out and buy a $2,000 Nikon camera with a bunch of fancy lenses — any modern digital camera will do the job.

However, it is likely that you carry a decent camera around with you in your pocket! Learn more tips on using your smartphone’s camera here.

Although most of the recent smartphones have powerful cameras that can get the job done, if you don’t have a smartphone or don’t want to use it,  there are still easy options. You can easily find a digital “point & shoot” camera for $100–200 (and possibly even less if you look online).

Use Light Wisely

First of all, always remember when taking pictures: pay attention to the light source. You want the light shining on the subjects to be behind the camera, not in front.

If the light source is in front of the camera, it can cause a glare and poor image quality without properly lighting the people’s faces. Here is a quick overview on learning how to light your photographs.

You also want to be cognizant of shadows, especially outdoors. Taking a group photo during a sunny day outside can be a nightmare: half the people will be washed out by too much light while the others are covered in shadows.

It’s an easy thing to fix, as long as you’re aware of the problem and look for those shadows before the picture is taken!


Being Mindful

Another factor to consider when you take photos that include other people is that you need to get their permission. Maybe you will want to use the photos for campaign purposes. Get their contact information and get it in writing that they have agreed to be in the shot.

This is especially important if there are photos of children or minors involved. This is an interesting article from a street photographer regarding his approach and here is a guide to creating your own photo release form.

Often times people opt to use group photos that focus less on the faces of the group and more on the feeling of the event.

When staging photos, it will be easiest to get permission from friends or family members. If you are taking a photo of a  group event, make sure that the people there know photos will be taken.

If you have ever asked yourself in the past; Does an event have the right to take my photo and share it on social media?… the short answer is yes.

Typically people are more than happy to get their photo taken, but give them the opportunity to move out of the picture if they so choose.

Plan Who Will be the Photographer

For many of your campaign events, you won’t have a paid photographer to travel with you. That means either you or a volunteer will take the photos.

Consequently, if you don’t assign the task to someone else, often times that means the photos won’t get taken!

There are so many other things to focus on that we often forget to document the event. Make sure to ask a volunteer ahead of time to be in charge of taking the photos. Then give them an idea of what style of political campaign photos you are hoping to get.  Be sure to make a plan on how to get access to the photos afterward if they used their own phone or camera.

What Types of Pictures Work Best for Political Campaign Photos?

Here are a few ideas:

  • Candids: have a volunteer snap a few pictures of you at your campaign events! These pictures always look the most natural and capture moments that aren’t posed.
  • Volunteers: highlight the importance of your volunteers by posting about them on social media — volunteers love feeling recognized and it can help boost team morale. (For more tips on managing volunteers, check out our blog about it!)
  • Elected officials or prominent community members: getting a couple of your political campaign photos with these high-profile individuals can help burnish your reputation and make you more viable as a candidate. Proving that you have a relationship with these people can go a long way.
  • Your supporters: take photos with the people who are voting for you! Showing the base you already have established can help convince more people to vote for you. It also shows that you go out of your way to establish a relationship with your electorate.

Now that you have the photos, what are you going to use them for?

It is an essential part of campaigns to use pictures. Political campaign photos bring life to your literature, boost graphics for event invitations, and liven up social media and blog posts. 

Check out our blog on website basics  to get even more information on how to craft the best website for your campaign.

Finally, now that you have the know-how, grab a camera and start taking some pictures! And then head to our course on digital 101 to find ways to use those campaign photos!

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