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Phil Douglis | profile | all galleries >> Galleries >> Gallery Forty-Seven: How using words in pictures can expand meaning tree view | thumbnails | slideshow

Gallery Forty-Seven: How using words in pictures can expand meaning

I disagree with the simplistic idea that a picture is always “worth a thousand words.” Some may be. But most images are not.
It depends upon the content and value of the picture. Of course, I am biased. I earned my college degree in journalism, so words have always been extremely important to me as a communicator. However, as I came to learn over the years about the expressive potential of photographs, I found myself treating words and images as equals, letting my pictures become catalysts for the imagination, and using my words to supply important context as necessary.

I also discovered that by occasionally placing appropriate words within some of my images, I could add instant context and thereby expand their meaning. This gallery demonstrates some of those ways that words can productively work within the image itself. In some of these examples, the words within the pictures are primary subject matter. In other examples, the words are contextual. Without them, the image would be less meaningful. Words can work in pictures not just to offer context – they can create incongruities, suggest the location of the subject, offer a sense of place, speak of another era, create irony or humor, symbolize social forces, and even provide a title.

I launch this gallery with a selection of such images, photographed in and around San Francisco, California. I hope to add more examples on future travels.

I present this gallery in "blog" style. A large thumbnail is displayed for each image, along with a detailed caption explaining how I intended to express my ideas. If you click on the large thumbnail, you can see it in its full size, as well as leave comments and read the comments of others. I hope you will be able to participate in the dialogue. I welcome your comments, suggestions, ideas, and questions, and will be delighted to respond.