How a picture can tell a thousand words

Words have an incredible power to move us; however it is often only through pictures that we can truly understand the real story. As we continue shining a spotlight on why Creative Matters, I wanted to revisit Student Magazine.

Storytelling has long been a great passion of mine, ever since I started Student when I was a teenager. With the naivety of youth, I believed that creativity and storytelling could change the world. With the experience of 50 years in business behind me, I still believe that.

Student magazine provided a voice for young activists, who wanted to see real change in the world we were growing up in. Alongside stories about music and popular culture, we used the magazine as a vehicle to protest against the Vietnam and Biafran wars.

Student had a team of great writers, creating high quality, punchy journalism, but when it came to articles about war and conflict we knew imagery was the only way to tell the hard-hitting truth. Enlisting the help of British photographer Don McCullin – who has since been labelled the world’s greatest living war photographer – we were able to really convey the shocking reality of war.

Back then I viewed Don as a hero. Looking back at his work now, I still do. War photographers jeopardise their safety in order to shed light on the world’s most awful tragedies. Who can forget the iconic Pulitzer Prize-winning photograph of Phan Thị Kim Phúc, ‘Napalm Girl’, taken during the Vietnam War in Trảng Bàng by AP photographer Nick Ut.

Many years later, I was fortunate enough to meet her and discuss her story. The Girl In The Picture awoke the world to the destruction and heartbreak of the war, and has been burned into the eyes of those old enough to remember it.

As technology advances, we are all becoming photographers in our own right; however the role of photojournalists is still so paramount to truly understanding the world and humanity. War photographers – so brave and so dogged – can paint a picture of a thousand words, which can hold a thousand tears, a thousand hardships and a thousand wrong doings. Their bravery to get the photo that tells the story can go a long way to bringing conflict to an end.

Imagery is an incredibly powerful storytelling tool; opening our eyes and prompting us to act. What pictures have really brought a story to life for you?

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