Downing Street is accused of trying to censor photos of the PM at a halal butcher.
It is said advisers feared the picture of Theresa May and husband Philip would alienate voters.
The snap was taken at 5.30am in London's Smithfield Market during last June's election campaign.
Sources said aides begged photographers not to use it. The source recalled: "Her staff pleaded with us. They were terrified it would alienate people. Her team were petrified."
Campaigners say Islamic halal slaughter is cruel. No 10 insisted there were no restrictions on photos.