The Power of Pictures


Photography, as a powerful medium of expression and communications, offers an infinite variety of perception, interpretation and execution.

– Ansel Adams, Photographer

Yes, a picture is worth a thousand words, and today is about the pictures.

powerful-photos-19Psychoanalysis and photography were both born in the 1890s, and they’ve been friends ever since. In fact, much like the decedents of two pals who grew up on the same block; generations later the two families still grow closer. Joel Morgovsky (2007) has led American Psychological Association symposiums studying how psychology continues to use photography as an assessment tool and an intervention. He cites “modern practices such as…Photoanalysis, and Photo Therapy” as part of “a powerful synergy that emerged between the ‘new’ medium of photography…and the ‘new’ science of psychology that emerged” at the same time.

powerful-photos-5“The uniqueness of a photograph can evoke feelings, such as anxiety, fear, familiarity, comfort or reverence depending on the subject and object matter,” according to The Psychology of Photography (2012) “Photography can have the effect of reflecting the soul and thoughts of the person photographing and photographed.”

Photography is heralded as a means that we can address their own body-image issues, focus on positives in life, aid in memory reprocessing and even help psychologists assess the inner workings of our hearts based on what captures our photo-fancy.

“Photography can not only change the way how people feel about themselves — even if just for a moment –, photography can also bring about any change” (The Psychology of Photography, 2012). To that end, we have an experiment.

All of the photographs in this article are noted to be some of the most powerful pictures on the internet. Each evokes an emotion. What do we feel looking at them?

HappiestThere is a key below the end-notes, but this is not an exercise in right or wrong. This is about using photographs as DIY therapy. Since our mood is changed by pictures we can use that same phenomena to cope and help ourselves stay upbeat when the world is all downbeat.

Our eyes are the windows to the soul, and those windows go both ways. The eye of the photographer captures the heart of life just as our eyes allow that image to live on in our hearts.



Joel Morgovsky, J. (2007) More Photography on the Couch. General Psychologist. Retrieved from:

Lina D. (2014) 30 Of The Most Powerful Images Ever. Retrieved from:

Netpastor (2013) The happiest picture on the internet? Retrieved from:

The Psychology of Photography (2012) Photography Daily. Retrieved from:

Photograph Key

Lead Photo: Compassion. A firefighter gives water to a koala during the devastating Black Saturday bushfires in Victoria, Australia, in 2009.

Inset One: Gratitude. An old WW2 Russian tank veteran finally found the old tank in which he passed through the entire war – standing in a small Russian town as a monument.

Inset Two: Sadness. Diego Frazão Torquato, 12 year old Brazilian playing the violin at his teacher’s funeral. The teacher had helped him escape poverty and violence through music.

Inset Three: Joy. On many sites across the net this picture has been heralded as “the happiest picture on the web” and “the second most reposted picture.” True evidence that it is the coalescence of emotion that is universal, not the subject matter.

End Photo: Closure. Father and son (1949 vs 2009).

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