Innovation in 2017

The Power of Photography

Photography alone is powerful. Images can tell stories, transport audiences to different places and act as memories of past times. When paired with journalism, however, they take on a whole new significance.

Photography is a vital tool for journalists’; as the old saying goes, a picture tells a thousand words. A story can be completely transformed, its meaning re-constructed and its value increased by an accompanying image. Images give context to a story; whether they’re transporting the reader to the location that the story is set, offering a portrait of the person the story is about, or giving a visual idea about what the story is about.

Being able to take powerful photos isn’t necessarily easy, but as I’ll show, the most powerful journalistic photos are taken in extreme circumstances, and it’s the content in the photo rather than the composition, that is truly powerful.

This photo of President Trump and former President Obama meeting for the first time post-election is one of the most powerful photos I’ve seen. After the meeting, both Trump and Obama said it was an “excellent” discussion. However, this single picture tells a completely different story.

The expression of doubt, uncertainty and trepidation on Obamas face, along with Trump’s apparent inability to look Obama in the eyes, tells an incredibly powerful story, and contradicts their comments after the chat. The handshake is a symbolic gesture of harmony and respect, and this alone would have told a different story. But given the facial expressions and body language that the photo reveal, it becomes apparent that this discussion wasn’t as “excellent” as both men said it to be.

Therefore, photography is capable of revealing truth, and telling stories beyond words; a vital tool for a journalist. A journalist can write a story, but if the accompanying photo is powerful enough, it will tell a story of its own.

Living in a privileged country, it’s hard to imagine the horrors occurring right now in different parts of the world.

This image of a young Syrian boy in war-struck Aleppo is a reality check. The western world has almost become numb to the travesties and pain occurring daily in war ravaged Syria, but the image of a child; of lost innocence and helplessness, will always to strike a chord. With a single photo, audiences are taken to Syria. The pain, the fear, the insecurity and the hopelessness is all captured in a single frame, and can tell a story far more powerful than any words ever could; and that is why photography is so vital, especially for journalists’ and the telling of stories.

About the author

Louisa Cheatley