My daughter is thinking up activities for her students and tells me about this series that The New York Times is carrying. It is called ‘What’s Going On in This Picture’. Photographs stripped of their captions are posted and we have to look at them and say what they are about, and why we think so. The original captions are revealed much later.
This sounds like a lot of fun, but for me there is also a sub-text to it that feeds into the debate whether ‘Words are more important than the visuals’. I have had heated arguments with my design colleagues who often asked me to cut down on the wordcount of my prose so that they could use more images on the page. Their reason – the page has to be visually appealing. People look at the pictures first and are then drawn into reading the articles.
That cannot be denied. I can think of examples of photographs that still haunt me. Steve McCurry’s “Afghan Girl” that was the cover of a National Geographic magazine in June of 1985. Just a picture. There was no other information the photographer had provided and none was needed as her photograph had already captured the imagination of the world. It became so iconic that it compelled McCurry to set off on another expedition to look for that girl. And some 17 years later, the story about her was written.