A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words

I got lost in my library search. As I clicked links and side bars, I kept finding myself looking at photographs. I scoured through the Time Magazine covers, the New York Magazine, the National Geographic.  I pulled up images from pivotal moments in human history and was absorbed by the colors on the screen, the power of the images, at how they spoke for themselves with no writing or explanation. After some time, I took a step back, and realized I wasn’t hooked by what exactly I was looking at, but how I was looking at them.

There are millions of photographs and each one captures such a unique and brief moment of time. Photographs preserve moments, allowing them the chance to be seen and talked about later on, when the moment has passed, when the people are gone, or when the event is over. I am fascinated by pictures, by how much they say, without saying anything at all.

From another angle, I am even more fascinated by the pictures that aren’t taken. The moments in time that happen, but are never documented–where the only hope of preservation is through memory. In a way, the moments not captured are far more delicate, far more susceptible to being forgotten. There is something so deliberate about photographs.  They are meant to be seen again, to send some kind of message. I wonder what goes on in people’s lives that they don’t capture on purpose, that they want concealed from the world. There is something (probably a lot) to be said about the pictures not taken.

As tangential as this is, this library search got me thinking about Instagram. This picture-sharing media platform caters to the idea of showing the word the image you wish to share. Instagram lets you edit, filter, sharpen and crop photos so that by the time you share it with your followers, the photograph sends a tailored message, something far from the truth. What comes of this? Of branding yourself in such a “picture perfect” way? There is so much beauty in raw moments, the unedited moments of daily life. That is the beauty, and those are the photographs, worth talking about.

2 thoughts to “A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words”

  1. Hi Anna,

    Wow I love this! This is such a unique angle and one that seems extremely important for contemporary study. One thing I thought about is how this not only applies to how we right now are editing photos but also how throughout history people have been ‘editing’ photos or choosing to capture certain parts of a scene to write a story. If you look at the ways newspapers or magazines add captions or talk about a picture, they don’t always tell the real story. One picture that comes to mind is the image of American soldiers toppling the statue of Sadam Hussein. The media made it seem like there were a ton of people there because they only took photos of the small crowd, but in reality, the crowd was quite small.

    Your focus on instagram offers a new understanding of this concept of ‘editing’. I think it could be interesting to look at how the this expansion of people who CAN manipulate these photos. Its not just professional photographers anymore who can do this, and if everyone is doing it and we are aware of it, can we really be manipulated, or are we inclined to believe we are being tricked every time? Good luck!

    -Caroline

  2. Dear Anna,

    I can tell that you’ve put a lot of thought and effort into the ideas you’ve shared in this blog post, which suggests that your project has a solid foundation in your passions. That’s awesome. I’m really struck by your ideas about the pictures that aren’t taken, or undocumented photos. I’m wondering how might go about exploring these ideas in a project, and how you might represent “unphotographed” moments in a project. How do your ideas about moments that aren’t photographed connect to your ideas about instagram? In this day and age, we have seemingly endless opportunities to document and preserve every single moment of our lives, what does it mean when we opt not to do that? What sort of consequences are there to that choice? What do we risk when we rely on memory to contain such “delicate” items as these?

    Also, I’m wondering what sort of format our structure you envision this project having, or if there’s any sort of argument you see yourself making by presenting all of the evidence you’ve mentioned in this post. Will this be a more visual presentation, or more text-based?

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