This photograph of Rick Santorum that I have chosen to analyze is somewhat different when compared to other campaign photographs that are out there. It is one that depicts Santorum as a family man, for sure. However, it is so different because of the fact that it’s not a full face photo, or even a three quarter photograph, but instead a family portrait – including his wife and all seven of their children.

Right away this photograph offers the viewers a different look into this candidate’s life. The outdoor setting gives it the recreational feel that many past presidents tried to create in their campaigns, although it is somewhat more subdued in Santorum’s version (there is no Cowboy hat in sight, or tobacco tucked into his lip).

Another interesting aspect of the photograph is the fact that you really can’t get a good look at Santorum’s face, individually. Because there are nine people in the photograph, it would be impossible for the camera to focus on just Santorum. However, I think that was the intent of the photo. Santorum wanted people looking at this photo to see him for more than just a face on a flyer or a sign. He wanted to portray the family aspect of himself, which he undeniably did. As Barthes said, “what is transmitted through the photograph of the candidate are not his plans, but his deep motives, all his family, mental, even erotic circumstances, all this style of life of which he is at once the product, the example and the bait” (91). Santorum did accomplish all of that within this photo. He is seen as a family man, a good guy, hanging out with his kids in a relaxed setting, even being playful by having one of his boys on his shoulders – perhaps an indication that he can handle the weight, he’s got the strength to carry a heavy load (something that everyU.S.president undoubtedly has to do).

The photograph shows all of his family members smiling widely, and even Santorum himself seems more genuine in this moment, with a real smile and two thumbs up – perhaps to indicate to the photographer to go ahead and capture the shot, or to even imply to the viewers that this is the lifestyle Santorum finds most fulfilling and that he really is just another dad that happens to be running for President. In this sense, Barthes words once again ring true of electoral photography when he says that “the voter is at once expressed and heroized [for photos are mirrors], he is invited to elect himself, to weigh the mandate which he is about to give with a veritable physical transference: he is delegating his ‘race.’”

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