Photography and Why “A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words”

"Swamp Mysteries" - A Limited Edition print of 100 of fall color in Caddo Lake, Texas. Click on Photo to Purchase

Landscape Photography Prints are Pictures Worth A Thousand Words

As a fine art wildlife and landscape photographer, the phrase “a picture is worth a thousand words” carries great meaning for me. A picture can convey information or capture a moment that makes it easy to understand and relate to. Pictures are also more effective at getting our attention and holding it. Text can be skimmed as the reader moves quickly from paragraph to paragraph.

When I am taking a photograph of a landscape or capturing the majesty of wildlife, I want the photo to trigger a story inside of you…. a reaction such as “I wish I was there.” Doing so allows you to “write your own thousand words” in your mind about the photo.

Pictures that Capture Moments in History

There have been times in history when a photograph captured the emotion of the moment in a way printed text never would have been able to. These historical pictures allow us to emotionally experience the drama of the moment. A famous example of “a picture is worth a thousand words” is the photograph known as “Tank Man.”

This photo shows a lone man standing in front of a line of tanks during the Tiananmen Square protests in 1989. To this day, this picture of one man standing up to a group of tanks symbolizes bravery and the defiance of the outnumbered protestors.

Another iconic photo that conveys emotional meaning is the “Migrant Mother” photograph taken by Dorothea Lange in 19326. Americans were living through the Great Depression. Thousands were without work. This iconic photograph shows a woman with her children in a tent. The look on her face is haunting. This iconic photograph came to symbolize the poverty and hopelessness so many Americans experienced.

There are countless more iconic photos that capture the historical and cultural events in the history of a country or of the world. Many of these are photos of dramatic moments such as planes flying into the World Trade Center; the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy; the six Marines planting the flag on Iwo Jima. These photos tell a complex story with great emotional impact—all with the click of the shutter.

"Pink Morning" - A Limited Edition print of 100 of Owbow Bend in Grand Teton National Park. Click on Photo to Purchase

Pictures in Advertising – Saying More with Less

Pictures and photographs are important elements in advertising. The goal of advertising is to get you, a potential customer, to buy the product. Pictures can grab your attention and create an emotional connection as they engage the visual and emotional parts of your brain.

You could write a paragraph about the fun you can have while drinking a brewski with friends. Or, you can convey visually in a picture the fun of sharing a drink with friends. The viewer wants to have those kinds of moments in his/her life.

Seeing people laughing and having a good time, not just reading about them, makes the event feel more real. It also makes the potential customer feel that this fun would be possible to duplicate. They can see themselves in the picture and, more importantly, now want to be there.

"Red Rock Canyon" - A Limited Edition print of 100 of a canyon west of Las Vegas. Click on Photo to Purchase

Instructions – More Pictures/Less Text

Nowadays, you will find that the instructions that come with your new barbeque grill (which you now must put together… or any other items you need to assemble) contain more images and less text. The assembly steps show you exactly “what piece goes where” and how. You no longer must read the text and determine what goes where—you can see it.

This is also helpful for those who have a limited understanding of the written language and would not be able to read and/or interpret the written words. A picture, in this case, is worth a thousand words and would enable the user to complete the instructional task.

"Mesa Arch Sunrise" - A Limited Edition print of 100 of Mesa Arch in Canyonlands National Park. Click on Photo to Purchase

The Importance of Pictures in Signage

There are many examples where a picture is used for instruction as a part of the signage. Pictures can convey information quickly and effectively. This is especially important for individuals who may not be fluent in the current language of the area.

For example, airports use pictures to let travelers know the way to the baggage claim area. Hotels use pictures in the diagrams that show guests where the fire escape is located. Restroom pictures can help you determine which door to open.

The use of pictures can make signage easier for people to understand which then makes the signage more effective at communicating its message.

"Winter Sunset" - A Limited Edition print of 100 of Bryce Canyon National Park in the winter. Click on Photo to Purchase

The Ultimate “Worth a Thousand Words” Paintings

Paintings by Norman Rockwell are prime examples of a “picture is worth a thousand words.” Rockwell was an American painter and illustrator. His iconic paintings graced the covers of the Saturday Evening Post for years. His paintings were known for depicting ordinary people engaging in everyday activities while emphasizing the essence of the American spirit and values.

Some of his most famous paintings were “Saying Grace” (1951) of a family saying grace at a crowded diner. Another was “The Runaway” (1958) with a young boy sitting on a diner chair next to a police officer.

“The Four Freedoms” (1943) was a series of paintings that depicted freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom from want, and freedom from fear. This series of paintings was inspired by President Roosevelt’s 1941 State of the Union Address and are powerful in their simplicity. As a viewer, you find yourself thinking about the individuals in the painting and what they were experiencing. His paintings were always worth a thousand words—if not more.

"Peggy's Cove Sunrise" - A Limited Edition print of 100 of sunrise on the lighthouse in Peggy's Cove, Nova Scotia. Click on Photo to Purchase

Pictures and Our Scroll-Oriented World

In today’s world, people are constantly scrolling through their electronic devices as they read their social media apps or browse the web on their phones. This has made the use of visuals even more important as visual content is more likely to grab the attention of the viewer.

Pictures will break up large chunks of text and are easier to understand and relate to. More people are likely to remember information that came from a picture instead of text.

The importance of visuals and photographs is always related to the story that it tells us….to the emotions and thoughts that are triggered in our brains as a response to the picture.

"Polychrome Pass" - A Limited Edition print of 100 of Polychrome Pass in Denali National Park. Click on Photo to Purchase

Wildlife and Landscape Photography – a Thousand Words

Landscape photography brings the beauty of the outdoors inside. Some of my photographs are calming and encourage reflective thoughts and some demonstrate the power of nature. My goal is always to tell a story. The photo should inspire a mood or emotional reaction.

My fine art photography can capture a quiet contemplative moment that conveys peacefulness or solitude. Or, the photo could share a moment of drama such as waves crashing on the rocks. The photos I create involve more than just clicking the camera. I work carefully at finding just the right place to stand so I can capture the emotion I want to convey. I evaluate the lighting, camera settings, and the time of day or the season to be there.

"Summer Walk" - A Limited Edition print of 100 of Aspen trees in Acadia National Park. Click on Photo to Purchase

The same with wildlife photography. Fine art wildlife photography involves more than standing there and hoping the animal shows up. It is more complicated than clicking the camera and packing up and going home.

I want these photos to tell a story worth many words. One could try to write a paragraph that would convey the majesty of the bison standing in the snow. I could also try to put in words the beauty of wild horses running through the open fields of Wyoming.

But the truth is, a photograph of either tells the story with a stronger emotional voice.

Is a picture worth a thousand words? Can it tell a story or convey an emotion? I think the answer is yes. Displaying fine art photography in your home or office is an excellent way to choose the emotions and mood you want present in the room.

It creates stories in your mind. It can create opportunities for talking and sharing. Fine art photography is an important decorative element in your home or office décor. It will be worth more than a thousand words for you.

"Carraige Curves" - A Limited Edition print of 100 of an old carraige road in Acadia National Park. Click on Photo to Purchase