“FLICKING the switch to vaudeville” was the way former prime minister Paul Keating used to describe getting his message across to disinterested voters.
Though they’re on opposite sides of the political fence, Denis Napthine appears to have heeded the message. And with just 100 days remaining until the state election, the camera will well and truly be focused on the Premier.
Never averse to a splash of showmanship, the South West Coast MP has been described by photographers as willing and able to display his lighter side.
The Standard’s chief photographer Damian White has been behind the camera lens for 25 years, snapping leaders from former premier John Cain to the incumbent state leader.
He said Dr Napthine was one of the easiest politicians to photograph because he was willing to show his human side.
“He’s very confident in front of the camera and understands what photographers and the wider media are after without looking silly,” White said.
“Denis isn’t afraid to show he’s human like the rest of us. A lot of politicians in suits prefer a dull photo that doesn’t really capture the story but he (Dr Napthine) understands how newspapers and other media work.”
Dr Napthine surprised Melbourne news editors and camera operators early into his tenure as premier last year when he was snapped wearing an iridescent pink hat to promote the Spring Racing Carnival.
But The Standard photographers were not surprised. White was there that infamously comic day at Sheepvention in the early 1990s when Dr Napthine was challenged to wear woollen underpants in public.
A more recent Damian White image of the Premier with Warrnambool identity Dario Valente was recognised by the Rural Press Club of Victoria’s photography awards last year.
White’s colleague Leanne Pickett nominates a photo of Dr Napthine announcing funding for Warrnambool Airport last year as an image that captures the leader’s playful side.
Pickett said another photo of the South West Coast MP with Peter’s Project founder Vicki Jellie was also a memorable snapshot of the day the region secured its cancer care centre.