The power of an image.

posted on 3rd of september, 2008

I would like to try putting into words the power an image can have. Though we come equipped with 5 senses, the ones that have the most power are visual and auditory.

These two senses have the power to make you laugh, cry, reflect, become angered, be repulsed, be drawn to, smile, be shocked by and a myriad of other emotions and actions.

I remember seeing images of the twin towers ablaze and feeling shock, anger, despair, fear, and on and on. I recall getting a slide show in my e-mail of the day and days after. For some reason the sound didn’t work, so all I could do is view the images as they scrolled by. I must say that as each master crafted photo passed my eyes, I could feel my heart beating faster, a knot lodged in my throat, and then suddenly an image opened that made me smile with a smile I seldom use. Three NYC firemen were raising an American flag in the rubble. I can’t really express the emotions needed to acquire that smile, but I haven’t been able to do it since.

While looking through images of refugees in a mass exodus out of Iraq, I saw faces that elicited feelings of sadness at their plight. I could see the fear in their eyes, the look of uncertainty of the future. While looking at images of the destruction in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama after Katrina, I felt sympathy for those who had lost everything, anger at the needless destruction caused by neglect.

While looking at images from the Olympics in Beijing, I felt happy for the faces of victory as they broke the finish line first.

I determined that the power of images should never be underestimated. Any emotion that the human body is capable of can be stirred by a single image.

Perhaps as an exercise, or a personal project; choose an emotion and attempt to find photo opportunities which best depict it. It is easy to capture images of people or circumstances in the act of displaying emotions; the trick is to get the viewer to experience it also.

Never stop challenging yourself, and you will be surprised at the distance you have covered.

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Photo credits: Suprijono Suharjoto, Brian Cherry, Kentannenbaum, Valentin Mosichev, Pniesen, Roberto Caucino, Remyrw.

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