The power of a photograph

(The Freeman) - January 27, 2016 - 9:00am

CEBU, Philippines - There's a saying: "A picture speaks a thousand words." A photograph makes a statement or blows the mind with its sheer beauty - on its own, without the benefit of a single word. Yet the very experience if to be described would require so many words and still not fully capture the encounter.

Even a most articulate writer may find his or her command of words short of the power of a photograph. Adrienne Carlson, writing on ddunleavy.typepad.com, lists the advantages of a photograph:

• Time and tide wait for no man. In this fast-moving world, when you have a message to convey, people hardly have time to sit down and read a paragraph or more. But if you're able to capture the essence of what you want to say with one photograph, you know you've captured your target audience. Even in newspapers and magazines, people look to pictures to tell the story if they don't have time to read the entire article.

• One picture says it all. Visuals are always more effective than the written word. A picture is more colorful or dramatic than a group of words, literally and figuratively. People tend to stop and look at compelling visuals rather than sit down to read (what they consider) boring words. It's true that our attention is easily captured by a picture rather than a group of words.

• Easy on the eye, easy on the brain.  Pictures facilitate the learning process, especially when it comes to children and others who are mentally impaired. They are easier to remember and associate with facts, which is why people prefer them to plain old words.

• Tugged heartstrings evoke more emotions. Photographs are able to capture emotions that words cannot, no matter how cleverly they're used. In a warzone, a crying child in the midst of all the rubble drives home the pointlessness of it all much more than the harshest of write-ups. The picture of a little boy smiling is enough to melt even the hardest of hearts.

• The power of two, packed into one. Most often, though, it's not just the pictures alone that make a point. When combined with the apt words, visuals help to push home the message in the most powerful way. And that's how they must be used - when the power of two is packed into one, the punch is so much stronger.

Moreover, with a photograph, the viewer owns the message he gets. His interpretation is very unique and personal. Two or more people looking at the same photograph or picture would each "experience" it in their own ways. (FREEMAN)

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