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Thread: a picture is worth a thousand words?

  1. #21

    Default Re: a picture is worth a thousand words?

    We must make a distinction between pictures for which words are necessary, and pictures which inspire you to write words about it.

    If a picture does not make sense for most people, that it has to be explained, then words are a necessary element in the picture; and the picture is less than a picture in and of itself.

    This is one criteria of a bad picture, unless of course you do not hold the notion that there are such things as good and bad pcitures, and that any picture is equally worthy of value and attention. But if you do, then you certainly must have some criteria, To me the necessity to explain is such a symptom of a bad picture.

    Further when words are needed, it is also likely that the picture is merely a means to an end, and the intent is not in and of the picture itself, but something extrinsic to it, eg advertisements.

    You can of course argue that there are some works that are so obscured, not unlike some paintings which were never appreciated when the artist was alive, that it has to be explained, or else the majority of people just cannot get it.

    Perhaps there are such works, but unless I see one - or someone step up and make such a claim of his works - such a possibility is merely theoretical.

    On the hand, since a picture speaks a thousand words, then there will be many many things constantly spoken about it, in many forms, and as such Mount Fuji, or a frangipani or Van Gogh's Sunflowers can be pictured and seen over and over again, and you always see something new, and can say and write new things about it. The same can be said of good music too: you can always listen to it, over and over again, and never satiated.

  2. #22
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2004
    東京 Tokyo

    Default Re: a picture is worth a thousand words?

    Quote Originally Posted by leejay View Post
    Your question: does a photograph need the help of words to be fully expressed?
    My answer: A picture is a picture. Those comments are just individual interpretations. If a photographer give descriptions of his photos while posting, he wants others to get a rough idea of his photos' background or rather his interpretation. If a viewer expresses his views for a certain photo, that is his own interpretation. Do you get what I imply? "Interpretations."

    Sorry lor. Okay? Happy New Year. But I think I have read properly and understood your question. I know you don't like me because of the DCA incident. But I don't think I hate you. I love your Japanese pics in fact.
    eh, please leh, read properly leh, don't anyhow erase part of the question away can or not

    directly from post #1 we sometimes hear people saying that if a photograph needs the help of words to be fully expressed, it is a failure. what do you think?

    aiyoh, please please, no i don't hate you, i don't even have a memory of you! wah piang, what DCA incident? can help me refresh abit or not? paiseh i have bad memory for CS incidents.

  3. #23

    Default Re: a picture is worth a thousand words?

    Quote Originally Posted by eikin View Post
    we sometimes hear people saying that if a photograph needs the help of words to be fully expressed, it is a failure. what do you think?
    i think that there are different kinds of photographs, and they all try to do different things, so "full expression" and "failure" (failure to do what?) may not mean the same thing for all pictures. e.g. record shots, documentary shots, journalistic shots, all are used in some kind of textual or editorial context to achieve a kind of meaning.

    for example, i read a book which used the example of a photo of a smiling truck driver. it then gave 2 captions - the first was that it was a happy driver. the second was that it was a suicide bomber about to go on a mission. the same sort of emotion is visible in the man's face, but the intepretation of the picture changes completely based on context/caption.

    i guess the idea that a piece of art should be able to stand on its own is something not unique to photography. you hear people talk about it when discussing how to write a poem or novel etc - "if you have to explain what you're doing, you've failed." it's a good reminder to those of us who try, that what we're trying to do, we should achieve within the work itself.

    i think that's the way in which the statement that good pictures need no words is best understood. not a be all and end all, but something to strive for during the moment of capture.

    but it would be very limiting, and rather naive, to believe that a work can and should exist outside context, outside tradition, outside criticism, outside all these sorts of textual interaction that can give it richer meaning through conversation.

  4. #24

    Default Re: a picture is worth a thousand words?

    well, a well though out image could be a thousand words or more...

    but this will not be the same thousand words to different viewers...

    and to some other viewers, it may mean nothing...

    i guess to some extent, this thousand words are very subjective...

  5. #25

    Default Re: a picture is worth a thousand words?


    I dont think adding words to a photo means failure. Sometimes, adding a title or caption enhances the photo and what the artist is trying to portray. Sometimes, adding words will restrict the viewers' perception as they are led to see according to the artist's intention. Perception is very much subjective to individual.

    For photos with stories behind, definitely require a short write up to explain to the viewers. Otherwise, no one will know how it is shot. This is what i feel. Happy new year to all!

  6. #26

    Default Re: a picture is worth a thousand words?

    Everything is a matter of perspective.

    Yes a picture is a picture but to different people, that picture can mean many different things. Some like it some don't. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Unlike the written word, where there is not much room for interpretation, unless you really want to read into the underlying tones of the words, pictures let your imagination run wild and come up with your own interpretation or story behind the image, hence the phrase "a picture is worth a thousand words".

    How many times have you gone and watched a movie that had great reviews but after watching the movie yourself, thought it was crap. That review was just one person's opinion.

    In an exhibition, there is usually an artist statement. This statement usually tells the viewers alittle about the inspiration and the meanings behind the images. And the rest is up to the viewer to figure out.

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