Newsrooms drew a collective breath, news editors wondered if this is the event that will put their careers into free fall and picture editors wondered about their budget.
This is the moment that Theresa May stepped out of No.10 and announced there was to be an election.
Coverage of election is an expensive business for newspapers and a headache for picture editors.
Each Party leader will have a ‘Battle bus’ and seats on board will run to many thousands of pounds for each journalist/photographer on board. The costs cover transportation to events, overnight stays when necessary and being on board the bus gives opportunity to moments in the campaign that you might not get if you are not on board.
Managing editors wishing to preserve money will discourage picture editors from having photographers on each bus leaving the picture editors living on edge that they might miss ‘the’ picture of the day.
Major agencies like the Press Association and Getty have bigger resources and are more likely to be at each event plus local agencies attend as the election caravan arrives in their area.
That said, the competitor in you wants your photographer to be there and for he or she to get an edge, a little something that separates your coverage from everyone else.
Press officers work at the photo op for the day. the moment to make your candidate look like Prime Minister material. But these orchestrated events are also the point where a keen eye can scupper all that effort. The random sign behind the candidate pointing to exits as your candidates popularity tumbles in the polls can be dynamite or in the case of Ed Miliband just eating a sandwich.
Political moments on the campaign trail that people remember such as Gordon Brown and his bigoted woman gaff and unscripted members of the public who argue with your candidate such as Tony Blair confronted when visiting a hospital
Photo opportunities for Mrs. Thatcher included her feeding a calf and walking in a wilderness.To prove she was prepared to get her hands dirty she visited a farm.
Roger Bamber tells the story of his all-time favourite…
‘During her election campaigns Margaret Thatcher always provided her accredited press team with a daily photo opportunity. On this occasion in Cornwall it backfired. She was telling a TV crew about a Cornish farm’s corn harvest and plunged her hands into a pile without finding out what was underneath… manure.’
‘I offered it to The Sun, which loyally never used it. But it’s been used a lot since.’