Pictures are NOT worth 1000 words

The subtitle to my photo gallery (when I maintained it and had it public) was Sometimes 1000 words are insufficient. It meant that no matter how much I wrote, sometimes a picture was still needed, and I do still think that is the case.

But seriously, have you ever tried to describe something with 1000 words? Take a picture and write about it. See how many words it takes to describe it. Write about everything you can see in the picture.

The bulk of most novels (or short stories, or poems) isn’t about what is seen. That’s not what fascinates people, because it’s always right there in front of us. What we’re interested in is relationships, emotions, and thoughts. The best photography captures this–at its most basic and also most profound, excellence in photography is founded upon the relationship between object and light. Photography can hint at deeper things and lead us into writing stories, but there’s only so much story an instant can convey without allegorization.

Words can put us in a person’s head or, more importantly and far more interestingly, into their heart and spirit. They can convey a person’s fears and hopes, and they can bind us a little closer together. Images are powerful, but God didn’t tell Adam to draw pictures of the animals. To Adam it was given the power to name them.

A picture of me doesn’t convey the truth of me. 1000 words don’t do a great job either, but I can manage a whole lot better in that span of letters, sentences, and paragraphs to communicate something than I ever could with an image.

There are pictures that can speak to my soul and elicit an emotional response. As I think about all the art I’ve seen and all the things I’ve read though, I stand by my conclusion.

Sometimes 1000 words are insufficient, but that doesn’t mean a picture will succeed where words fail.

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