The power of images

When we look at pictures do we all see the story or meaning it wants us to see? I don’t think so. The way images are seen are different from one person to another. Why? Well, its because none of us have the same exact experience or life as anyone else.

Different ads in Times Square

Different ads in Times Square

According to Marita Sturken and Lisa Cartwright in the book, “Practices of looking”, it states that the way we interpret or view an image is different according to our experiences or the setting in which we see that image. This is similar to what we view as beautiful and what we do not. These aesthetics are different according to culture and can also change our taste. So, what it is saying is that nobody can understand the initial meaning the producer connected to the image because everyone who sees it has lived a different life than others.

Stop smoking gum ad part 1

Stop smoking gum ad part 1

Stop smoking gum part 2

Stop smoking gum part 2






For example these 2 different ads from the same company, Nicomild chewing gum, shows a picture of gum trying to stick together the two things we need when we smoke a cigarette, our fingers and a lighter. Although I do not smoke, I can see that these images are referring to smoking. However when someone who has not seen anyone smoking or does not know what these two pictures are related to, they cannot make the same interpretation that I made. These differences occur because of our different life experiences. Even though I interpreted the picture as the gum holding together the finger and the lighter so people can quit smoking use their gum, the creator of the image may have put a different meaning in it. We never know.

There is never a right or wrong answer when we see an image. The way one individual sees an image will be different from someone else. Like the saying, a picture paints a thousand words, the power a picture has to tell a story is incredible.


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