It is said that “A picture speaks a thousand words”.
Can a mute picture really be compared to a volley of words?
My recent foray into photography has made me realize that be it verbal or visual, some facets of communication are common across all modes.
Camera in hand, when I stepped into our flower-laden garden, a plethora of enticing subjects demanded to be snapped – delicate dewdrops glistening on leaves, exquisite butterflies flapping their wings, a wild mushroom protruding from a fallen tree, ..…..
There was inspiration abounding, and much like trying to find one topic to weave a speech around, I let my eyes rove to spot the perfect picture. I went on a clicking spree attempting to capture within my box all that the eyes fancied. The snapshots were gorgeous, some even prettier than the original. Yet when I skimmed through them, I found no picture that compelled me to stop and stare.
Eons ago I remember reading a narrative titled, “Stop Look & See”. The feature had prodded readers to slow down and pause awhile, to offer involved looks instead of dispassionate glances, and to actually SEE what lay around. The author’s drift was apparent – “Looking is not Seeing”. By a similar implication, we Toastmasters would agree that “Hearing is not Listening”.
Does the onus of being attentive lie only on the shoulders of the observer or listener?
Does the content creator not wield the power to generate that attention?
Nature can communicate its beauty in a zillion ways across landscapes that stretch endlessly, but a writer’s paper, an artist’s canvas, a speaker’s words, and a photographer’s frame are limited by time and space. These limitations necessitate the presence of a precise and distinct focus. The efficacy of communication, whatever be the medium, hinges on creating and projecting this prime focus.
Quite like a speech that touches upon a broad theme but highlights a narrowed down aspect, a photograph with a blurred background and a pronounced centerpiece is likely to create a deeper and lasting impression on the audience. By subtly hinting at what lies beyond without being obtrusive, the background adds to the vibrancy of the main feature. A solitary flower could win greater appreciation than an entire garden of blooms.
Expressions of all forms need an allure and if films are anything to go by, the hypnotic appeal of stories is tough to match. Stories give power to our speeches. They fire up the imagination of an audience and bring emotions to the surface. A photograph too can titillate the imagination, with the hint of an underlying story.
An image placed to one side of the frame rather than at the center piques the curiosity of the viewer. It makes them wonder at what could possibly have been left behind by our featured protagonist. Candid shots that capture spontaneous expressions are popular for the very same reason. They stimulate imaginations and induce viewers to conjure up stories, and proof of this is the barrage of captions that come forth on social media in response to a picture.
It is not the medium of communication, but the methods adopted that can influence the shift from Looking to Seeing and Hearing to Listening.
So what do you say, words or pictures???