But it wasn't until the early to mid-20th century that politicians realized the power of photographs and their ability to sway opinion.
Adolf Hitler was probably the first to use photographs on a regular basis for propaganda purposes.
Starting in 1936, Hitler never went anywhere without his personal photographer in tow.
In the late 1930s, very few photographers were using color film. German photographer Hugo Jaeger was an early adopter, and when Adolf Hitler was introduced to Jaeger’s work, he liked what he saw.
“The future,” Hitler reportedly told Jaeger, “belongs to color photography.”
Between 1936 and 1945, Jaeger was granted unprecedented access to Hitler, traveling and chronicling, in color, the Fuhrer and his confidants at small gatherings, public events and, quite often, in private moments.
Hitler is long gone, but dictators and despots still use photographs to burnish their image.
There's no shortage of images of brutal, sadistic tyrants posing with smiling children, adoring adults, pets, and men in uniform.
I started thinking about this early this morning after looking at some photographs of an event that Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine hosted for seniors last night.
Now no one is saying that Phil Levine is a dictator...although at times he acts like one.
But as I browsed the photos he posted on Facebook, I couldn't help but notice the similarity to historic photographs of some of history's most despised dictators.
The caption for the photo below reads: "Amazing campaign Gala with our #MiamiBeach seniors! Salsa dancing and wonderful music. ¡Simplemente Hazlo! #VoteLevine #LevineForMayor"
|Click this and all images to enlarge.|
Notice how similar Levine's expression is to that of Chairman Mao's in the Communist propaganda poster below. I also love how the photographer has masterfully framed the shot that shows Levine surrounded by ecstatic supporters.
Here's another shot from last night's event....
....that bears an eerie similarity to this Soviet-era poster.
Spend any of amount of time looking at Levine's photos and you come away with the feeling that he's being advised by someone who once worked as a political advisor for a Banana Republic dictator, and someone who believes that the occasional use of Photoshop is OK just as long as it's done badly.
|Bad Photoshop is better than no Photoshop!|
Here's another shot from Levine's Facebook page....
Pair the image above with this shot of North Korea's Kim Jong Un....
Dictators are also fond of posing with men and women in uniform. Levine is no exception.
An absolute must for any dictator's portfolio are shots that show he loves and connects with the little ones!
|Fidel Castro with children in 2002.|
|Fidel Castro with schoolchildren. (1959)|
You can't call yourself a dictator unless your subjects whip themselves into an uncontrollable frenzy while in your presence.
Dictators are also fond of showing that they love their four-legged subjects just like they were people.
So, if you're a Miami Beach voter, you should stop by Levine's Facebook page as often as possible and look at the photographs.
After all, you're paying for this crap.