“Why Pictures Are So Powerful”

The seventh chapter of Al Tompkins’ Aim for the Heart focuses on the visual storytelling method of journalism. Photography is one of my hobbies and photojournalism is a field which absolutely fascinates me. For this reason, the seventh chapter was one of my favorites in the book.

Tompkins begins his chapter by discussing gestalt psychology, a term derived from the German word gestalten meaning “organized wholes”. Gestalt psychology is a theory of perception which recognizes the various ways the mind comprehends an image. People analyze an image as a whole and then tend to deconstruct and organize pieces of the image separately.

An image allows for a number of possible interpretations. Humans associate visual images with personal experiences, many of which directly correlate to personal interpretation of an image.

“The viewer will see what he or she wants to see” – Tompkins

The chapter continues by discussing the complementation of images and sounds. Images and words should not explain what a viewer is seeing but should instead enhance the overall interpretation.

This chapter was, without a doubt, one of my favorites from the book. I believe pictures are the most enhancing and enticing elements in a story. They add what cannot be interpreted through words.


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