A Picture is Worth A Thousand Words… Or Is It?

25 10 2010

“A picture is worth a thousand words” is a common cliche used to describe how a picture can tell a story in a better way than words can. At least that is how I look at it. But this is kind of down playing words; don’t you think? If I were words, I would be completely offended. Here’s the thing, yes, this is a photojournalism blog but I am putting it out there now: words have a power that is incomparable to any other type of media.
During eighth grade I had to take a course in which I basically read to kindergartners two or so books a period. For most of the year our one assignment was to have books and a prepared activity for the kids to do. When I chose my books I noticed that the majority of them were very simple. There weren’t any complicated designs it was just all very clean cut and clear. The kids loved those books. This is my theory why: children have crazy imaginations. Their minds are constantly floating in the clouds. When they read books with specific designs and very complicated images, they are almost being told what to imagine. They liked the simple picture books because they were given a base to start off of and then from there they could create whatever they wanted to make the story more compelling to them.
As we age, our minds don’t necessarily need this grounding start that kids’ imaginations might need from picture books. When we read a story, we don’t need pictures to aid our imaginations.
Words let us imagine.. Or they make us imagine while images do it for us. While some images are very important to show people what is going on in the world I can almost argue that if people had time to imagine, words could suffice.
These days people don’t have time to read the morning paper word for word and let their imagination go. That’s where photojournalism proves to be vital. A picture may be worth a summary but it is not necessarily worth more than a blurb of words.

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3 responses

25 10 2010
jacquelinemerrill

“If I were words, I would be completely offended.” How wonderful that someone is finally standing up for those little guys.

Your theory about the kindergartners is fascinating. That’s something I should look more into. I’m still a huge fan of simple artwork… paintings with one focus. Photographs of one face or tree. Something that even on it’s own can captivate me. Perhaps I’m still a kid. 🙂

I do believe that a picture can be worth a thousand words. I also believe that one word be worth worth a thousand words and that one word can be worth a thousand pictures. Does that make sense?

You could turn things backwards. You could take a single, powerful word and create 1000 images that show it in all it’s forms. For example, you could take 1,000 photos just exemplifying the word loneliness. Or the word family. Or the word trust.

I love how your blog is turning out!

25 10 2010
Mister Fischer

Perhaps the job of the photojournalist is to show us things that we can’t yet imagine: parts of the world that are new to us; points of view that we’re not familiar with; insights that we’ve not come to yet. I agree with Jackie here: you’re onto something important. Keep thinking about how photos stir the imagination–or how they CAN stir the imagination–and how this might differ from how words do the same.

5 11 2010
Corrina

I agree with Jackie, and yeah sometimes i wish we could all be kids sometimes because imagination beautiful thing and it lets you appreciate the simplest things in life

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