What’s in a picture? When politicians spend thousands for official photographers
For many politicians, it’s not uncommon to have close-in photographers follow them around for big events. It’s a widely used practice; as people in power, they stand at the forefront of history, being present in the critical moments that could have far-reaching consequences and impact on a vast majority of people.
Official photographs, after all, capture the moment when decisions are made and life-changing actions are enforced. Many years from now, people will look back at archival photos which serve as an important piece of documentary evidence of history-in-the-making.
But the issue of spending for official photographers can be a touchy subject too, particularly when it involves thousands in taxpayers’ money.
In August 2016, Minister of Environment and Climate Change Catherine McKenna drew attention when it was revealed that more than $17,000 had been spent to photograph her and her staff for various events within 10 months.
Among the big-ticket items was her office’s hiring of a photojournalist when McKenna attended the COP21 climate change conference in Paris. This event alone had a price tag of $6,792.21.
While McKenna’s office said her predecessors also hired photographers, the $99,000 amount spent for photography services was spread out over 8 years.
Following these reports, McKenna said her office is now reviewing policies for hiring photographers to find ways to reduce costs.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also said the practice was “perhaps not the best use of public funds.”
While having official photographs taken for important public events is important and contribute to the documentation of history, perhaps politicians can find ways to do so without spending thousands in public funds.