SMH and The Age tap Instagram for 'humanising' election coverage

Lindsay Bennett
By Lindsay Bennett | 30 June 2016
Malcom Turnbull, Bill Shorten, Nick Xenophon, Barnaby Joyce, Penny Wong, Christopher Pyne, Tanya Plibersek, Richard Di Natale, Julie Bishop and Anthony Albanese

The Sydney Morning herald has released a series of moving portraits of Malcolm Turnbull, Bill Shorten, Julie Bishop, Kevin Rudd and Christopher Pyne, designed solely for the Instagram medium.

Fairfax photographer Nic Walker wrote on Instagram the vignettes offered a chance to play with traditional portraiture and moving images with people who are typically inaccessible. He told SMH it was an attempted to humanise politcians.

Nine frames were short per second, 81 frames in all, to capture the raw emotion with no time for the subjects to consciously construct their expressions.

Fairfax national social media editor Georgia Waters tells AdNews the idea was developed to stand out in the daily cycle of the election campaign.

“Our aim was to create something visually dynamic and refreshing - I think we have achieved that and if it makes us stand out then that speaks for its originality,” Waters says.

A defining characteristic of the media coverage this election has been the merge between social and mainstream media. Last week we saw the power social media has in driving the conversation when #FakeTradie exploded following a Liberal television spot and the annual leader's debate held on Facebook for the first time. 

Fairfax acknowledges social media is a pivotal part of its election coverage, which is why the images were designed solely for the Instagram medium.

The images have been well received, with one person writing: "What a great series. You get a real sense of their personalities and it seems the two frontrunners are a little tired, stressed, but ultimately focused. Penny Wong and Julie Bishop look like people you might actually want to hang out with."

“Instagram is one of our favourite social platforms, and we have a really engaged following. We only publish work from our own photographers as well as black-and-white photos from our archives - we very rarely use something from a contributor. We (hope) this makes for a feed that's beautiful and original and very much in the character of the Herald,” Walters says.

“Social media evolves so quickly that what was working a month ago might not be working now, so we're constantly updating what we're doing. And there is so much competition for attention,” she adds.

Instagram’s manager of political outreach John Tass-Parker told the SMH the images allow Australians a sneak peak into the unfiltered human side of the leaders.

The portraits will be published on the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age Instagram accounts throughout the week.

Watch the behind the scenes video here.

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