It is often said that “a photograph is worth 1,000 words.” Yet, despite, and perhaps because of, working in a field flooded with communication of all kinds (mostly words), most newspaper photographers are people of very few.
Indeed, silence speaks volumes, but a photographer communicates on other terms. Of all the languages in the world, the human eye sees in only one.
Just as words communicate in ways a photograph cannot, photography speaks in a language all its own.
To a photojournalist, words, like individual pixels on a digital sensor, all have meaning on their own but say little without being read and understood in concert. When read as a whole, a sentence, a paragraph, a book or even a novel, like a photograph, truly becomes greater than the sum of its parts.
Only 1,000 words to describe an image. So few can easily be filled with simple description like shutter speed, aperture, ISO, focal length, image size, pixels, megapixels, camera make, lens used and on and on. Yet all photographs are worth so much more.
The value of any image, like in conversation, comes not from the elements or words used, but how and why they are used.
At the present, as the year turns from past to future, and conversations juggle reflection and prediciton, the time to examine value in life, all past, present and future, frames the depth of our discussions.
Whether the value of a year is defined by an overall mood and feeling or in specific moments in time that make-up life, all have importance.
From a simple hand-gesture solidifying the bond between volleyball teammates to one last kiss before departing to Iraq for months, from the natural beauty of a snow-capped sunset to the joy of a human-made painting, from the fiery joy of riding “Fireball” to the icy chill of a winter house fire, or even from the similar headdress of pet and owner to looking back through dual rear-view mirrors, it takes both great and small to make up a year.
Sifting through the major and minor memories stored as hundreds of billions of pixels in the images from the past year, moments that capture something of what it means to live stirred memories that flooded back in far more than 1,000 words.
If, and when the job of a photojournalist is done correctly, the photographs should speak the volumes that the photographer might not. A good photograph should speak to the viewer, seeking interaction on some level and ultimately asking more questions than it answers.
A good photograph should be a paradox. Both informing and questioning, light and dark, simple and complex all at the same time. For without one, you cannot understand the other. Without pieces there can be no whole and without reflection there can be no looking forwarrd to the future.
Only then is a photograph worth so much more than 1,000 words.
HAPPY NEW YEAR TO YOU ALL!!!