If a picture speaks a thousand words then why am I still writing?



I love words. I love the way they express a concept and I love the way they flow. I love the variety words offer you and how different words convey different shades of meaning. I love the way words can be subtle but also the way they can be so direct that they hone right in on the situation.

Given that I love words, it’s perhaps not surprising that I have made my living primarily out of my writing skills for the last three decades – working first as a print journalist, then a press secretary, then a public relations practitioner, and more recently as a teacher of effective writing skills. Even one of my hobbies involves writing – fiction writing to be exact.

But are words all they are cracked up to be? Somewhere along the line, have I been sold a lemon and kept right on pretending it was sweet?

The old saying ‘a picture speaks a thousand words’ offers a lot of insight in terms of our modern world. Letters have been replaced with Facetime, written words are becoming fewer, and newspapers are going out of business while the volume of YouTube videos has gone into hyper-drive. The popularity of reading has taken a nosedive while instant visual communication is on the ascendency.

Even in my writing courses, I often refer to the importance of visuals. It is acknowledged that one of the main learning styles of almost half the population is visual learning, whereas written communication falls far behind. An example I love to use is the difficulties an IT specialist has in explaining to me how to make changes to something on my computer screen. However, if they send me a screen shot they have almost instant success.

Seemingly in answer to such concerns about pictures being more important than words, I recently developed a new hobby that one day may even become a business. Taking photos!

I have loved taking photos since I was a child but never considered doing it professionally until I hit upon the idea of selling photos through stock photography sites. Although I had doubts about my technical skills, this new venture gave me the motivation to develop them further.

When I investigated the world of stock photography via the Internet, I found that ‘concept’ photos were particularly in demand and that seemed right up my alley. The creative juices flowed as I thought about expressing sayings and concepts through photos.

A few months and quite a lot of hard work later, I have had a variety of photos accepted as stock photos and am loving it. Some of the resulting photos which have been accepted by iStockphoto/Getty Images have included:

·        Don’t put all your eggs in one basket http://api.istockphoto.com/photo/all-your-eggs-in-one-basket-gm603986566-103707693

·        Ladder of success http://api.istockphoto.com/photo/ladder-of-success-gm611085624-105078539

·        Feeding the family http://api.istockphoto.com/photo/wild-swamphen-feeds-her-chcks-gm608638226-104373433

·        Slippery slope http://api.istockphoto.com/photo/children-s-slide-slippery-slope-gm602293072-103505805

Now I can truly say that I love pictures. I love the way a moment in time captured in a single photograph can express so much. I love the way a picture not only conjures up words and thoughts, but also emotions and atmosphere. I love the way pictures are intensively creative and believably normal all at once.

So have pictures now taken over from words in my life? Not at all!

Show me your words through your pictures and I will still show you my pictures through my words. For while pictures can show so much, they are still at the mercy of the viewer’s interpretation and what they already know. Words, on the other hand, can convey new ideas, new thoughts, new impressions that the reader may never have encountered before. They can also lead people to understand specific details, facts and points of view that may otherwise have been beyond their frame of reference. As well, they can conjure up pictures in your mind that aren’t limited by the constraints of everyday reality.

Does that mean my love affair with pictures has been just a passing fad? Wrong on that score too! I now just love them both. Words and pictures, pictures and words – they were always just meant to go together. Apart they are both powerful but together they are creative dynamite!


2 thoughts on “If a picture speaks a thousand words then why am I still writing?

  1. Great blog piece Glynis! This is a conversation I have with myself – on my blog. My take on it is that every picture tells a story, writers can tell different stories to that which the photographer/painter/visual artist intended. I love pictures, great images are so powerful but words can, as you say, add the subtleties.

    Like you I’m also writer and a photographer, though my career has been the opposite way around. l made a living of sorts from photography, while writing because I just need to write. It wasn’t really for others until the past few years when I began writing plays and blogging.

    Now l have two blogs, plus three plays which have actually been performed, also fiction, poetry and writing a book around my research into women artists. My writing blog if you’re interested –


    Liked by 1 person

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