Power of Connection

A photo of Julia Gillard taken by a young Downs Syndrome girl shows power of apparent personal connection with the public.

The photo, which had its own 15 minutes of fame, has been ’acquired’ by the Australian Museum of Democracy.

The photo has some clues for politicians troubled by unflattering photos and an apparent disconnection with the public.

The main lesson is to identify emotional soft points in the community, and create situations for intimate connections that can be photographed by the public themselves.

The ingredients in the photo’s success were:

  • It looks natural – Gillard managed to achieve an unusually relaxed and genuine smile for the girl behind the camera.
  • The perspective is “first person” – the closeness of the photo, combined with the smile, achieves an unusual intimacy.
  • The backstory is warming – the photo was taken as a spur of the moment theing
  • The need for validation – the parents have an emotional need for that connection between their daughter and the PM, so ensured the photo was well distributed.

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