ADVICE: Get your photos in the bank next month

July is a great time to sit down and think about photos that you might need for your campaign and hopefully with better weather and better light, it makes for some good photos.

Every campaign should – although we realise many don’t – have a shared folder where the team have access to photos. A photo bank should help you in the long-run not need to get new photos for every leaflet and here are our top tips.

You should have generic photos from every part of your ward – your ‘ward 360’.

While you can get many of the shots you need in the summer, your photo bank should include pictures in all weathers. It is great to have pictures showing the team out working in the snow etc.


Before you even think about going out you need to take time to work out where you want to get photos.

Print off a map of your ward and think about all of the key locations. These are often the local parks, small businesses, noticeable monuments etc. This is a really good way of clearly showing where you have any gaps, making sure the whole ward is covered and also highlighting new areas of interest and any landmarks you may have forgotten. This is a really useful exercise also for thinking about “record of action” / map leaflet. If you’ve not seen one before here’s an article about how we do them.

Think about your messages – a vital part of photos on our literature is to share our message in a very visual way. I have a copy of my message grid and have made sure that everything can be visually explained when thinking about what we say about ourselves and what we say about our opponents. A bit more detail on messaging. Think about what you are campaigning for and against and how you can reflect this in a picture.

For example if it is about council tax, a picture with a local resident discussing their bill might be appropriate or a picture outside the town hall in discussion with local residents.

Most pictures most of the time should involve candidates talking to people, doing ‘natural’ things and being in groups. For example, people sitting ‘naturally’ look relaxed and ‘real’ whereas artificial poses make for bad photos.

Participants need to be clear that the photos will be used for political campaigning. If children are involved, a signed permission slip is essential.

You should have photos for:

  • Family
  • Crime
  • Health
  • Education
  • Environment
  • Recognisable local landmarks
  • With groups of people
  • Talking to people
  • A GOOD ‘head and shoulders’ shot
  • Transport
  • Campaign pictures
  • Pensioner pictures
  • ‘Winning photos’ including Lib Dem team shots
  • Youth pictures
  • Also make sure you have sitting, standing, walking and talking, smiling, determined (serious) shots; as well as horizontally and vertically oriented shots – this is something that many photographers forget to do unless reminded.

Just like any volunteer event, it’s absolutely crucial that you recruit participants in advance of your candidate photo shoot.  Don’t count on calling people on the day of the shoot and assuming that they will show up. Without volunteers, you’ll end up with a surplus of candidate head-shots, which would be unnecessary.

When you’re recruiting volunteers, ask them to wear whatever they would wear on a regular day. If a volunteer were to show up in a suit and bow tie, they may look very dapper, but they would also stick out like a sore thumb on your leaflets and detract from the candidate.

Equally, ensure that the volunteers are representative of your community i.e. not all white men.

It is critical that you scout for locations before your candidate photo shoot. Take a bit of time to think and take a look at potential locations before the shoot to make sure that the sites work.

Before your candidate photo shoot, take the time to put together an itinerary and shot listhere’s an example. Ideally you will get all the shots you require for the entire campaign in one day. Having an itinerary will allow your shoot to go smoothly. In particular it will inform volunteers when and where they are to arrive.

On the day:

When you are doing a large photo session, if you can, try and get one person to take photos and another person to direct the people being photographed. They will then be able to look out for the issues that can arise.

To produce high quality political campaign photography:

  • Use a good camera (modern phones are starting to be of the right quality)
  • Do not use digital zoom
  • Shoot the photo in good light and use a steady hand (with the subject still)
  • Do not resize the original photo
  • Store as TIFF, JPEG

The candidate should change outfits. You wouldn’t wear a suit to a park, so more casual attire is better. Have the photographer take head shots at every location in every outfit in addition to the photos with volunteers. This will add a lot of options.

A great guide

The Campaigns and Elections Department at LDHQ produced a guide on campaign photography. It’s full of examples, practical tips and advice on what to do and what to avoid.

You can download it here.

Steve Jones says

Does ALDC offer any shared working space for photo banks and collaborative working?

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