Campaign Corner: What makes for a good action photograph?

The Campaign Corner series looks to give three tips about commonly asked campaign issues. Do get in touch if you have any questions you would like to suggest.

Today’s Campaign Corner question: I saw you talk about the importance of (captioned!) photos in leaflets, but what makes for a good photo?

1. It should tell a story: A quick glance at the photographs is often all the attention a leaflet (or online story) will get, so the photograph(s) should convey the main message of the story. If you can’t guess what the story is about from the photo, then the chances are it is a bad photo.

2. It shouldn’t make you look like a sad, lonely, strange person: The classic “action” photo used in far too many political leaflets shows a campaigner on their own staring at a problem. If you want to look like a lonely person, bereft of supporters and the sort that ordinary people steer clear of, go ahead. But a good photo shows either a successful team or a campaigner with residents. It also should show you taking action, and no – staring doesn’t count. Pointing is marginally better, but much better is action – measuring, fixing, cleaning or moving.

3. Obey the law of the left nostril: I have never yet seen a campaigning photo taken from too close in, making me think, “Yuk, I can see too far up that person’s left nostril”. Yet photos from too far away are legion. You don’t want the people to be distant smudges. Get closer, then get closer and then get a bit closer still. Only when you are worrying about showing too much left nostril are you close enough.

Want to know more about local campaigning? Campaigning In Your Community by myself and Shaun Roberts should be right up your street. It’s available for only £4 from ALDC and you can read an extract for free here.

Previous Campaign Corners have included:

You can read them all here.

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