Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull
With 500 million users, Instagram grants us behind-the-scenes access to all facets of society, and the looming election is no exception. It was this notion that has inspired a series of moving picture portraits taken of Australia's political leaders.
Election 2016: Our Leaders, a project by Sydney Morning Herald and The Age in partnership with Instagram, was shot by Fairfax Media photographer Nic Walker. He worked to capture the micro-expressions of each politician by showing them six images (chosen to evoke a reaction) over a nine-second shoot. Nine frames were taken per second, so what you see in each Instagram post is 81 frames of raw reactions from the pollies. Raw, because they didn't have time to consciously construct their expressions before the shot was taken.
"During an election campaign, you get the sense that politicians go into a mode where their image is very crafted and manufactured," Walker said. "This project was all about eliciting a very human response to remind people that, love or hate their ideas, politicians are people too."
While we don't know exactly what Walker showed each subject at what point in the shoot, we know he used a tele-prompter to flash images of the politician's children, grandchildren, their partners and their political nemeses. He revealed that Julie Bishop was shown a picture of the women from Sex and the City — which explains her smiles — while another pollie was flashed a shot of a glammed-up Mariah Carey. Some of the subjects seem to have taken the the experience more playfully (or maybe they were shown less confronting pictures) while others, notably Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull seems more stoic. It was noted that Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce was happy to have gotten off lightly, and his pleasantly surprised expressions prove he was expecting worse.
Walker told The Age he said the politician's they can take it however take it however they like, "I said, 'Look, guys, you can flat-line if you want. If you don't want to play, you don't have to. But, if I was you, I would want to look interesting rather than boring."
The series has been unfolding on the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age Instagram accounts — day by day, with Opposition Leader Bill Shorten and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull the last to be revealed today.
Later this week the portraits will feature as pop-up installations in Sydney's Martin Place on Friday and Melbourne's Federation Square on Friday and Saturday.