Jeremy Corbyn Campaign,
Head of design and photography
Jeremy Corbyn is one of the most recognisable figures in UK politics yet in the early summer of 2015 he was a relatively unknown backbench MP who put his name forward to become leader of the UK Labour Party.
With a strong desire to support and help the Islington MP, I approached Corbyn's campaign team in June 2015 to offer my services as a photographer and graphic designer and was immediately thrust into the middle of Jeremy's whirlwind campaign.
Being given the official title of campaign photographer it was my responsibility to capture all aspects of the campaign, from shooting official portraits to covering policy launches and large-scale rallies. I travelled the country with Jeremy documenting what turned out to be a meteoric rise to power that culminated in a landslide victory for the Labour leader and a dramatic change of direction for the Labour Party.
The following year saw an even greater challenge. With Corbyn's position under threat and another Labour leadership contest under way, I was asked to return to the campaign trail but this time with the expanded role of heading up his creative department, responsible for the design and production of all Jeremy's campaign materials. This proved to be one of the most exciting, challenging and exhilarating periods of my career. Working closely with Corbyn's campaign manager we developed a strong and recognisable brand and created a wide variety of publicity materials that helped to secure a resounding second victory.
The two distinctly different roles I brought to both campaigns (as graphic designer and photographer) ended up perfectly complimenting each other and became equally important tools used to build strong campaigns - design being used to communicate the message and photography to underpin the Corbyn brand.
Developing the Campaigns
Throughout both campaigns Jeremy wanted the focus to be less about himself and more about the message and what he believed needed to change in society. At the mass rallies he commanded across the UK he always put forward clear ideas with simple strategies on how best to achieve change. However, most importantly he always took the opportunity to leave strong messages of hope and to inspire people, especially the younger generation, to come together and become active participants in bringing about the changes he himself has spent a lifetime working toward.
As part of his core campaign team one of my key responsibilities was to visually interpret and further develop these messages. For his first campaign, the slogan 'Straight Talking, Honest Politics' was chosen as it best represented the man behind the message. However, by 2016 Corbyn was a known commodity so the focus moved away from the man and towards his message: Together We Can Rebuild And Transform Britain.
As well as helping to develop a strong brand, it was my job to take Corbyn's messages and deploy them across a variety of printed materials. Poster campaigns, leaflets, brochures, large format banners and policy documents were designed and produced by myself to support the campaign.
Website and Social Media
It was online and across social media where we had the greatest impact. In a very short space of time we created a fully formed website based on my designs which was utilised to galvanise a mass of support and raise large sums of money (through many small donations) to help keep the campaign afloat.
However, our strong presence on Facebook and Twitter was even more successful. Having developed a recognisable brand we were then able to design and distribute a wealth of online materials. Memes, branded imagery, video content and infographics were produced and almost always took on a life of their own; being shared and retweeted hundreds of thousands of times.
Our online campaign strategy was constantly being praised and by the end of the 2016 campaign we had left the competition well and truly behind.
Although I always strived to put Corbyn in the best possible light, as time went on my focus became less about simply documenting a politician on the campaign trail and more about trying to capture Jeremy’s personality: his warmth and compassion and the enthusiasm that was so clearly on display whenever he spoke to either individuals or crowds.
My photographs ended up becoming the visual backbone of both campaigns and became the main source of imagery used to promote Jeremy Corbyn.
The pictures were also distributed to the mainstream media and used in national newspapers (the Guardian, the Times and Independent), broadcast media (BBC, Sky, ITV, Al Jazeera and RT) and once again online across various national and international news and media outlets.