YES: Pictures will always outweigh mere words in communicating ideas, messages and perspectives to influence a broad variety of human endeavors and interactions, for better or worse.
Photographs and film footage published by the media, such as Steve McCurry’s Afghan Girl With Green Eyes are innately captivating and draw viewers into their aesthetic vision and underlying social messages, standing in a league of their own as icons of effective communication.
Masterfully executed works of art and painting, such as Picasso’s Guernica or Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel paintings, can provide compelling narratives about important political and social themes or universal human experiences, evoking powerful and indelible feelings in viewers across time.
Many well-known photographs of world leaders, such as those featuring former American president George W. Bush have captured them at their most unglamorous moments, causing serious embarrassment to their unfortunate subjects which cannot be easily reversed by mere words or political speeches.
Many scandals featuring well-known personalities such as former Senator John Weiner reached their tipping points when compromising photographs provide irreversible and incontrovertible proof about their moral duplicity that their excuses and public apologies cannot whitewash over.
NO: It is simplistic to undervalue the power of words which, have the capacity to eclipse pictures in influencing human endeavors and interactions, for better or worse.
Some media products and communications, such as radio broadcasts and advertisements are effective on the strength of mere words alone, as they capture the imagination and receptivity of audiences through auditory appeal.
Some works of art, such as those by Jackson Pollock, may be masterfully executed but are so abstract in their delivery that text descriptions are needed to situate them in the right context and facilitate viewers’ appreciation more fully.
Gaffe-prone politicians are instructive in how mere words, poorly chosen and spoken, can acquire iconic status asbehavior best avoided by the prudent, such as Sarah Palin’s infamous ‘We can see Russia from over Alaska’, lampooned endlessly by comedians since 2008.
Many civic society programs and initiatives, such as Seven Billion Others, combine images with words effectively to achieve their public education and transformative outcomes, which would not be possible if pictures or words were used exclusively on their own.