Photography and Electoral Appeal

animation, ISHE

As part of my Introduction to Higher Education I had to read an extract from Roland Barthes‘s Mythologies. My extract was Photography and Electoral Appeal. Barthes believes that photography is a fundamental tool, used by political candidates in their electoral campaigns. According to Barthes, electoral photography manipulates potential voters in various ways.

The primary use of photography is to create a kinship between potential voters and electoral candidates, that supersedes politics and creates an ‘understanding’ of the Man behind the politics. Electoral photography is a reflection of oneself, thus the creation of the potential voter’s super-ego is reflected in the photograph of the political candidate. This brings forth the idea that we are voting for ourselves! And who better to run the country than oneself? This echoes to Poujadism :

“Look at me: I am like you”

In creating a reflection of the voter in electoral photography, a means of moral blackmail is created as it asks the voters to vote for their moral values:

country, army, family, honour, reckless heroism

Roland Barthes also explains how different angles of the candidate translates a certain message to the viewer. A full face photograph for example shows the candidate facing the problem head on, it shows the candidate as a realist and someone who is ready to tackle, cripple and kill the country’s many foes and problems.


Exhibit B, Google Images

Exhibit B, Google Images

Exhibit B, Google Images

A three-quarter face photograph which is the preferred tool of choice, for most politicians creates a ‘sanctimonious’ being who is looking into the future with hope and purpose. This candidate is looking to make things better for the future.

Almost all three-quarter face photos arc ascensional, the face is lifted towards a supernatural light

obama hope


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