The Truth Behind Photography Icons

The Truth Behind Photography Icons

In photography, the art of communicating by pictures or other images is called iconography. Readers often depend on iconicity of the presentation of stories that they read. There are five main functions of photos and other images, namely:

1. To attract attention

Pictures are selected to symbolize an article’s theme and are given prominence by means of size or position in the layout. Their role is to catch the reader’s attention starting with the caption, and on to the title and, finally, the text.

In trying to tell the stories with pictures, some magazines or newspapers present a “lead” picture just as a good story begins with a strong “lead” paragraph.

2. Illustrating a point

The simplest role of an illustration is to make a point. This is a typified by the head-and-shoulder portrait, also called the “mug shot.” In some instances, illustrations help the readers know the place or the scene that was captured. A photo of a beach, for example, may accompany a travel article, showing the pristine beaches on a certain place.

Charts, diagrams, bar graphs, maps, and other visual devices are also being used extensively to “explain” a point. Oftentimes, figures and statistics are confusing. Hence, most people use some of these devices to explain a story.

3. Telling a story

There are pictures that by themselves tell a story. Only a minimum caption is needed or a caption may even be superfluous. Editorial cartoons usually do not have captions, but they tell stories and make a point.

4. The picture story

This is the use of series of pictures with a minimum of words called “caption story.” The picture story is usually used to illustrate a “how to article.” How to build a communal dam, for example, can be best illustrated with the use of visuals. When the primary goal of the story is to “show” the reader something and not just “tell” him, then the role of pictures become dominant and words only secondary. In all cases, however, a skillful merging of the two is necessary.

Indeed, in the world of iconography, photographs can really mean “a thousand words.” Hence, one can surmise that photography icons are generally created to translate and decode the symbols that readers don’t normally understand.

In fact, in religion, photography icons are more used than any other concepts. This is to explain the ideas further and to give more depth to the subject matter in focus.


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