They say a picture says a thousand words, and it often does. But sometimes a picture only says ten words, or it says a thousand words it’s not supposed to. Pictures are not entirely unpredictable, though. Their effects are evident with a little research and an artist’s eye. By altering color, contrast, and even placement, we can change the whole effect of any given image on an audience.
Pairing images with text gives us multi-dimensional opportunities to tell our stories. People love photography for a reason; photos often say things that text can’t. And people love reading for a reason; text often says things that photos can’t. When we combine text and images to tell a story, we take advantage of an opportunity to showcase both of their strengths, combined into one cohesive narrative.
Images can strengthen readers’ associations with the subject matter, but they can also enhance a piece’s rhetorical power. Allowing the audience to look into the eyes of that child is a far superior pathetic appeal than trying to simply describe the child’s circumstances. The pictures we select, and their composition, can instantly boost or destroy an ethical appeal. While images are not the best for logical appeals (at least in the sense of a narrative) they can tie in well to textual arguments.
Even slight changes in the way we pair and modify pictures and text can have dramatic effects on what our audiences take away from our stories. For example:
This man is preparing for a role as Santa Claus in a Christmas play at his church.
This man just killed three children he met on the internet.
Isn’t it amazing how much a story can change with a few simple alterations?