Can a single picture really tell a story?

Started May 5, 2013 | Discussions thread
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Lee Jay
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Can a single picture really tell a story?
May 5, 2013

I'm going to go out on a limb and say that a single picture can never tell a story all on it's own.

Oh sure, if you already know the back story, it can.  An image of Neil Armstrong on the moon, for example.  Everyone knows the back story so a single image works to tell the story.  An image of a fireball coming out of the World Trade Center similarly doesn't need any help.

But a regular image of a scene unfamiliar to the viewer?  I don't think it works.  It needs help.  It either needs a caption to provide a description of the story, or it needs some other supporting images the help it tell a story.

I'll give two examples.

This is one of my favorite shots, but it probably doesn't do a lot for you.

Does it do much for you?

How about a little back story.

He's my son, and he's 2 year old in the picture.  He was ring-bearer in this wedding.  After walking down the isle and doing his duty with the ring, he didn't know what to do or where to go.  Rather than causing a disturbance or starting to run around and play as children are known to do, he walked behind the couple into the gazebo in front of which they were getting married and just hung out and observed the audience and the ceremony, as you see in the image.  I was proud of him for being so well-behaved at such a young age.  He looks peaceful and at-ease to me, and that emotion is conveyed to me in the image.

It's a better image with the back story, isn't it?

How about this one:

Anything?  Doesn't do a lot for me.  How about no back story or caption, but some help from its friends all taken near the same time.

Does the series tell the story better than just the first one does?  What is this series about?  It's not hard to get the story from the bunch, is it.  But just the first one?  It doesn't cut it on its own.

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