5 Things to Look for in Political Photography

Posted on Mar 13, 2017 by
Sophie Thurber
political photography

Make Sure Custom Political Photography Matches Your Campaign Strategy

A picture is worth a thousand words, especially in the world of political communications, where space is limited, and readers’ attention spans are minimal. This means that the images you choose for your campaign literature are critical and will likely require some level of investment. In any campaign, resources are finite, so it’s important that you’re able to maximize quality while keeping a close eye on your bottom line. Here are five tips to make sure you get the most out of your political photography.

1. Invest in a professional photographer.

Your friend may have a great camera, but that doesn’t make them a professional. I’m sure we’ve all seen political campaign materials with photos that catch your eye for all the wrong reasons. Take the time to review portfolios and choose a photographer who has taken photos that look natural and well-composed. If you need more convincing, you’ll find a longer discussion of professional photography here. If you need to start your search for someone to take care of your political photography, check out the American Society of Media Photographers (ASMP) via our 100 Campaign Tools article.

2. Make sure your plan for your photo shoot reflects your overall campaign strategy.

Your political photography should feature the people you’re trying to reach in a setting that makes sense within the context of your race. Are you trying to reach middle-aged residents in your district? Young families? Find supporters who reflect your audience and the diversity of your potential constituency. What’s more, choose locations for your shoot that are within the geographic boundaries of the seat you’re running for and choose identifiable landmarks where appropriate.

3. Get shots that will work for your political ads.

This means thinking about content and framing. Framing is important, and it’s something you should discuss with your professional photographer in advance of your shoot. If all of the shots you get are tight on the subjects, you’re likely going to bump into trouble flowing text over photos. You’ll also run into difficulties regarding layout – you want to get shots that provide you with the flexibility to use them in multiple contexts. Content-wise, this means thinking about the structure of your communications program. If you’re sending out a mail piece that tackles a serious issue, you want facial expressions that fit with what you’re talking about. Make sure you get the kind of variety you’re going to need to visually highlight a variety of campaign issues.

4. Never underestimate the power of natural light.

If you can swing it, shooting outside is the best thing you can do for your political photography. Find a great park and get your volunteers there early in the day. Cloudy days provide great light, so unless it’s raining, don’t be deterred. 

5. Use Photoshop sparingly.

It’s certainly tempting to fix everything you don’t like about yourself in Photoshop, but please don’t. People are already distrustful when it comes to politicians, so don’t lead with an image that is clearly altered to make you look like the embodiment of human perfection. Invest in quality political photography, and trust the people closest to you to help you pick out great photos – they’ll probably be more objective than you are.


Quality political photography is just one step along the road of any political campaign. Have more questions about running for office? Check out our ebook, Ready, Set, Go! Jump-start Your Political Campaign.


New Call-to-action

Add new comment

Let's Talk

Our team has worked for candidates and causes, big and small, across the country.

Receive EMAIL UPDATES from The Campaign Workshop blog!