Analytical Essay – The Power of Images
I believe that pictures are able to capture a single moment, highlighting the important meaning behind every action presented. According to Mitchell Stephens’ “By Means of the Visible: A Picture’s Worth,” images possess “great power - religious, tribal, romantic, pedagogic” (479). Similarly, in Kenneth Brower’s “Photography in the Age of Falsification,” a picture of earthrise is described as having “poetic power, evoking sentiment” (564). When looking at pictures, whether in my photo album or a Life magazine, I discover that emotions are stirred by those pictures that hold the greatest number of feelings, from anguish to happiness, thus making them the most memorable. Through my analysis of my most compelling photographs and the essays of Stephens and Brower, I have concluded that each picture evokes a feeling inside of me, whether it is a photograph of a kiss, a family in the mist of the Depression, or my grandfather.
As I look up at my wall, I see the poster of the infamous “War’s End Kiss;” a picture of a sailor and a nurse kissing in the middle of Times Square at the end of World War Two. The feelings of joy, passion, and relief are evident as they engage in the passionate kiss. Looking at the photograph and analyzing their actions, I am able to feel the celebration of love and life. Love is so strongly expressed as the sailor wraps his arm around her and dips her as they kiss. The celebration of life is the most poignant emotion of the picture. Because the picture is set directly in the middle of Times Square, it holds the definition of America in one of our most profound cities. As other men of honor and passers-by walk by, it is clear from the expressions of their faces that they are ecstatic to be home where they are with the people that will celebrate their life and love after a long period of separation and struggle. Words are not able to describe the intensity of emotions stirred. In contrast, Stephens feels that “images cannot form languages without the reliance upon words” (483). However, I believe that if words were present, they would defeat the undeniable purpose of the photograph. Only the picture itself allows me to feel as though I was standing right there, watching this extraordinary symbolic kiss.
As I was flipping through a Life magazine, I came upon the heartbreaking and touching photograph of a family in the mist of the depression. In the picture, a poor woman was staring with a look of anguish, pondering about the life that she no longer enjoyed, as both her children provide her comfort. This picture depicted a chapter in America’s history that my generation only learned about in the classroom. As I learned about the depression in grammar school, it did not affect me because I had not truly experienced it. However, as I turned the page in my Life magazine, this picture reprimanded me not only for my insensitivity, but...