Digital Photography and Emotion: What’s a Picture Worth?

Okay for starter’s real quick.  Click here:,r:3,s:0

This image was shot by photographer Joe McNally as a tribute to muppeteer and entertainer Jim Henson following his death in 1990.

Two other images made headlines recently,  one very different from the other.

Image #1:   Photographer Sam Nzima was honored for his photograph of Apartheid violence in South Africa during the 1976 Soweto uprising.  As you discover in the story, this was also the image that ended his career as a photographer.  The accompanying image is graphic.

And the other image, a pinup of a Playboy model that was smuggled onto the Apollo mission as a prank and inadvertantly found when the lunar module was on the moon’s surface.  That signed picture is set to go for £10,000.  That article can be found by a simple web search of Sun Magazine (UK) for Apollo 12 Image Auction, or whatever search terms you think might be relevant.  A word of caution:  The article does include the original image and the UK decency standards are a little laxer than the US’s, so a little parental supervision is probably required.

This week two war photographers were killed this week in an attack in Libya, Chris Hondros and Tim Hetherington.  Some people would ask, why would anyone be crazy enough to carry a camera into a battle zone?

Maybe the answer lies with Civil War photographer Matthew Brady, whose graphic images of corpses littering the battle field at the Battle of Antietam and opened the eyes to the American public to the harsh realities of war.  Matthew Brady went on to chronicle thousands more events and people during the Civil War and his images and collections can still be viewed today.

Think about that for a minute…  Images taken over 150 years ago, still evoking powerful emotion today.  If you ever get the chance to visit a German Concentration Camp Memorial or the Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial, take just a minute and note how the images both of history and the present affect you in that particular moment.

Even Einstein attributed his big break in finally “cracking” his elusive Theory of Relativity only after imagining himself riding an atom and viewing the characteristics and attributes of the other particles surrounding him. 

Joy, sadness, pain, love, anger, justice and tyranny…  Inspiration, serenity and chaos…

If you asked yourself, “What’s a picture worth?” And you answered “1,000 words”, then you are grossly underestimating the power of an image.


Digital Photography Basics, Memory , , , , , , , ,


  1. It has always amazed me how a black and white photo can still evoke as much emotion , as a full colour photo .

  2. Three very different photos.
    Three very different emotions.
    And you’re right. Well worth the 1000++ words they cost.
    I believe I still have an old book of Matthew Brady pictures.

  3. Pictures can definitely tell a story.

  4. Dewayne, that was a beautiful and moving post. You are not only a good photographer but a good writer. The Nuremberg Chronicle (a 500 year old book) which was found this month is notable because it is one of the first books with illustrations!
    Sonya Lenzo

  5. I visited the Holocaust Museum in London as well as Dachau Concentration Camp in Germany…..the images that were displayed there were very emotional. I will never forget!

  6. Kevin Bettencourt

    Excellent reminder that art is meaningless without drawing out emotion.

    Las Vegas Air Conditioning ServicesLas Vegas Air Conditioning Services

  7. We need to chronicle history and what happens to evoke the emotions associated with it. Some causes are less critical than others of course but it makes perfect sense.

    Jen B
    Tinnitus and Hyperacusis

  8. They are very different pictures, but great.
    There is one photograph from Robert Cappa that you probably know. For Spain it represents a symbol of the Spanish Civil War. Maybe the most ilustrative picture of the war and what it represents.
    You can see it here:

  9. 3 different pictures with 3 VERY different emotional reations. It is about time to update the phrase “a picture is worth 1000 words” to something more appropriate – I don’t know what that is yet, but being a creative artist, I’m sure you’ll have no trouble :).

    Best, Neil

  10. I give a lot of credit to those reporters that go into war zone….

    Chicago Style Sales Expert</a

  11. A sigle picture can say more than a thousnads of words and without misunderstanding.

  12. Hi Dewayne,

    OK, I have to say this is complete synchronicity. I was just talking about Jim Henson and his maverick visionary quality to be a puppeteer and bring the world the world of The Muppets. Apple did an interesting ad series including him years ago.

    Happy Dating and Relationships,

    April Braswell
    Did Kate Middleton Use Hypnotic Love to Snag Prince William for the Royal Wedding April 29 2011

  13. No matter how old a photo is there is a story or questions behind it. Thanks for the reminders and lessons.
    Scott Sylvan Bell
    Reduce sales rejection
    Now go implement!

  14. Clare Delaney

    Thanks Dewayne for a super post, very evocative and a compelling argument for the power of photography.

    For Everything Eco-Friendly

  15. The right picture at the right moment can be life changing and earth shattering. It’s tough to place a price on these.

    Steve C

  16. Linda

    I liked April Braswell’s comment on Jim Henson and I think that is ironic that I found this today in the beauty shop. Must be on the right track. It was very good.

  17. I think you summed it up perfectly when you wrote: If you asked yourself, “What’s a picture worth?” And you answered “1,000 words”, then you are grossly underestimating the power of an image