The Rochester West by-election is coming soon, and I’ve had a number of promotional leaflets through my door for our local parties. Before I put them in the recycling bin, I thought it would be fun to see how the different parties are using photography to promote their candidates. I have tried not to look at their policies or political views or read the content in the leaflets. Instead I have attempted to give a rounded interpretation and analysis of their use of photos.
The Conservative leaflet shows a tilted, informal headshot taken on St Margarets Street. Alan’s stance is slightly turned to the left looking direct at the camera. Although not confrontational, as it might be if he were facing straight on to the camera, he has a relaxed smile. It seems to have been taken on a smart phone, giving a wide frame and low picture quality, he is also slightly out of focus. It does however give a leading line drawing the viewers eye down St Margarets Street, metaphorically enforcing that Rochester is the focus of this campaign.
The off-set fold of the front page invites you to explore the inner content. Inside are a number of posed and informal shots. A mixture of ‘in situ’ or ‘in action’ photos demonstrate the candidate supporting various campaigns in the area. The photos in green spaces suggest Alan is ‘out-and-about’ and active in his local area, however some, for example the photograph of the candidate in the green space with his foot on the white barrier, feel somewhat staged.
The last page shows three further ‘in situ’ photographs of the candidate with a local shop keeper and former candidate for the area. This contrasts with the informal layout of the first page. The catalpa tree photo is perhaps the most relaxed photo with Alan in a traditional male pose standing off centre with his hand in his pockets. This could either be interpreted as being relaxed or disinterested.
Overall the photographs within this leaflet are relaxed and informal and although they connect to build a story of the areas the candidate supports, it feels visually overloaded.
Martin’s front page portrait echoes the informality of the Conservative candidate, this time taken in a green space. Although I would not advise standing straight on to the camera, he has something in his hand, which somehow breaks the barrier, making it seem less confrontational. He is positioned at the centre of the photograph, the leading line is a path in the middle, which similar to the Conservative candidate, leads the viewer’s eye back to central Rochester. He is centred between two trees, nicely avoiding the foliage sprouting out of the top of the head look. Martin has a relaxed and friendly smile. I would surmise this was taken on a smart phone or basic digital camera, on an overcast day, as it slightly out of focus and quite dark. It would have been great to see the photo a bit brighter. Martin appears to be ‘out-and-about’ as he has his Liberal Democrats badge on and the photograph is taken by someone else. It is also good to see a younger candidate. There is one other photo on the page linking to a support campaign, and a stock photo from the Liberal Democrats, suggesting more of the overall aims of the party as opposed to the achievements of the individual for the community, as illustrated on the Conservative leaflet.
Overall, the portrait on this leaflet is the most friendly, relaxed and welcoming, with a smaller number of other photos indicating the wider party views.
The first thing that struck me about the Labour Candidates leaflet is it is well thought out. The front page is dominated by the River Medway with a ‘hero’ shot of Alex looking into the distance. I would suggest this has been taken by a professional photographer, due to the framing and use of depth of field.
This photo reminded me of a promotional leaflet for a theatre production (not dissimilar to the poster for David Tennant in Don Juan in Soho last year). The candidate is the focus of the promotion. Alex appears well groomed, wearing professional dress. I would, however, liked him to make a little more eye contact with the camera. This appears to be from an organised shoot, rather than an ‘out-and-about’ campaign shot.
Overall the photographs in this leaflet are of higher quality that the other candidates, and a case of quality over quantity. However, from the visuals I am unsure from this what campaigns the candidate has supported.
Rob’s portrait is also informal, it appears to have been taken as a ‘selfie’. It has been taken from below which doesn’t result in a very favourable angle, this main photo on the leaflet appears to have been stretched giving a ‘fish eye’ appearance, with a better smaller version on the reverse. The candidate is ‘in situ’ at a polling station, with additional photographs on the reverse indicating some issues the party are supporting locally. As with the Liberal Democrats leaflet there doesn’t appear to be any direct visual link to the achievements of the candidate.
Sonya’s leaflet was the last to arrive. I wasn’t sure whether I would receive one, given the Green’s environmental concerns, however was pleased to see it has been printed on recycled paper. Similar to the Conservative, Liberal and UKIP candidates, her portrait is informal and slightly off centre. She is looking directly down the lens with a slight head tilt and relaxed smile. It appears this has been cropped from a larger photo used on the Green’s website. In the source photo her pose looks stilted, but the crop on the leaflet is much more favourable. The exposure of the photograph is spot on the website, however it hasn’t translated well on the leaflet, which could be due to the paper. As this headshot is the only photograph, like the Labour leaflet, there is little visual information about the campaigns the candidate has supported.
All the leaflets use photography differently their candidates displaying their party colours. Each puts their own twist on their photos, using hero shots, snapshots, informal, ‘selfies’ and ‘out and about’ photos. A leaflet is an easy way for candidates to get across their messages, the photos used create the immediate visual connection with the person behind the campaign. The parties have put forward four white male candidates and one white woman, I would have liked to have seen a bit more diversity.
Given the timescale for this campaign it is understandable why some of the photos may appear rushed, this highlights a need for a quality stock of photos, taken at events and regular organised photoshoots.
Top tips for election candidate photos:
- When possible use a good quality digital camera. A smart phone is great for those ‘out and about’ shots, but not selfies, always ask someone to take it for you.
- Consider using one of the many basic editing software apps to get your smart phone photos just right.
- Take photos in the location you are representing. Even better in a green space, they create and healthy feel and usually have better light.
- Remember to take photographs when your campaigning or supporting events. This will help you to build up a ‘bank’ of stock photos, to use in your promotions and help you tell your story when needed.
- Natural light is a must, most candidates have used outdoor photographs, however ensure you are making the most of your chosen light conditions
- A relaxed genuine smile always brings life to your photos and helps you connect.
- If you are unsure about what pose styles work for you, try them in a mirror. Ask a portrait photographer or search for some tips on the internet.
- Add interest and creativity to your photos by using leading lines and being creative with depth of field.
- Don’t be afraid to play with the layout of your photographs, cropping when necessary. Sometime a badly framed photo can be saved by a good crop.
- Where possible work with a professional photographer whose work you know and like for those quality shoots.
Those of you who caught my round up of 2015, will know how pleased I was to see that year grow for Nikki Price Photography, and have been so delighted that my business has once again gone from strength to strength in 2016. A sincere and heartfelt thanks to all my clients, models, and everyone who has supported Nikki Price Photography. Testimonials from client shoots have reaffirmed that you love my informal style of photography too! So once again thank you.
2017 is bringing some fantastic opportunities for me (watch this space!) and I’m already being booked throughout next year for your gorgeous events, and family shoots. If you need a photographer for your product, portrait, event, or other shoot, drop me a line on my contact me page or via firstname.lastname@example.org .
I have loved looking over the past years photoshoots, commissions and projects, here are some of my favourites:
Cafe Sunlight – Food Photography
I am immensely proud to have worked with so many fantastic creative and charitable organisations this year such as Cafe Sunlight
Cafe Sunlight is based in the Sunlight Centre Gillingham, and the team invited me to take photographs of their hot food offer for parties and conferences; as they wanted to refresh their website for their London events. The food produced by Chef Dave was fantastic as you can see below, and the team were a delight to work with.
Top tip for indoor food photography using flash: have some white card or white fabric handy to make the most of the flash, bouncing the light back onto your gorgeous food, avoids harsh shadows.
Exhibiting more of my work this year, has been a thrilling but scary experience! I took part in Medway Open Studios with my ‘Hidden forms in nature theme’, which sparked lots of interesting chats with visitors. I was also proud to have interpreted work by Poet Dan Simpson in the Wordsmithery Heretics exhibition/performance. I produced a layered photograph which contained a self portrait, woodland and a glacier, it was good to pushed my boundaries. I was also involved ‘In the footsteps of the Pilgrims’ exhibition at St Mary’s Church Burham, one of my favourite churches near my home town. I exhibited 2 photos, both taken at night of the Church, I was extra pleased about this as one of the pieces sold and is now winging its way to America to a family who emigrated there from Burham over 20 years ago. The exhibition that had most impact on me was the Pandora’s Other Box ‘Skin’ exhibition at the Horsebridge Centre.
Top tip for exhibition photographs: have a plan for your final pieces but don’t be afraid to change it! Playing through your plan; will often bring forward ideas you may never have thought of.
I have loved working with local youth groups, artists, and Rochester Literature Festival this year. A highlight was working at Woodlands Youth Centre MC and DJ workshop for young people, lead by MC artist Harry Shotta. The young people loved the opportunity to try out their MC skills and my only regret is that I didn’t have time to try DJ’ing! A poignant event for young people I had the privilege of photographing was the Tryangle awards at the Central Theatre Chatham, the first time I had been on that stage!
Towards the end of 2016 I was pleased to photograph the See and Create launch, headed up by Artist Chris Sacre. The launch, at Nucleus Arts Chatham, was a great opportunity to learn about his Arts Council funded project aimed at Deaf families providing accessible workshops and other events in 2017.
Top tip for photographing events: sturdy shoes with no heels! and a wide angle (F1.4) lens make for a good shot particularly in low light situations and shoes with no heels make for quiet movement over wooden floors, nothing worse than a photographer with squeaky shoes!
Family photography is one of my favourites, meeting new people and providing some gorgeous informal photos for you is a pleasure. It is a delight to be invited into someones home to capture moments at a party, outdoors with mum (and dads) bump shoot, or in the studio with you and your little ones; I received some great feedback on your shoots. I also ran a competition for a family shoot this Autumn as I had missed out on taking some great photos in the autumnal leaves last year.
Top tip for photographing families: particularly those with small children/babies; ensure you have a rough plan in your head about the shots you want to achieve, and take your time, feeding and changing stops need to be factored in!
I have put this section to wrap up the year for all those things that would seem a little lonesome on their own, but gives you a flavour of everything else I get up too!
I’ve started my series of skills sharing blogs, and ran nature photography workshops with young people in Grain. My business is also now live on Gravesend.co.uk business listing pages, a particularly significant direction taking Nikki Price Photography into North Kent.
Although I am not a wedding photographer, I do make exceptions for very small number of intimate weddings each year; Garry and Vicky’s was just that, a lovely family and friends relaxed wedding, in such a beautiful setting, it was a pleasure to be part of their day.
This years short documentary/business info films include The Right Step Dance Company and my own personal short about Time which had its launch at Seasonally Effected a cultural open mic night back in November.
Being a photographer I don’t ever really stop taking photographs, after all its what I love the most. I’ve usually always got my i-phone on me to take snaps or love to take the 6D out for a spin when I feel the urge.
Since 2013 I have been thinking about and producing photographs for a body image project, celebrating the nude without over processing in photoshop. The bulk of work is growing, with more shoots to take place in the new year (when the weather warms up a bit!); this (or some elements of it) will form part of my solo exhibition (so sorry no sneak peeks here!), more news to come on that one throughout 2017.
Last on the list -but not least! some photos of my Christmas day morning stroll around the West End of London, with my partner and pooch.
Thanks for reading my blog, and your support throughout this year. Here’s to another great year of photography.