Try to show someone a photo and not launch into a longer story that sets the scene, or tells what happened next. It’s impossible! So much so that we know if we are invited to see someone’s vacation pictures, we’re in for hours of stories about the trip, not just swiping through a few hundred pictures.


Psychologist Robert Akeret says, “The memories encapsulated within the borders of a single snapshot can set in motion does upon dozens of stories.”

A picture is worth a thousand words—this adage is so old that it was definitely not referring to photography originally. It refers to the idea that something complex to describe in writing or verbally can be communicated succinctly in an image. Think about IKEA assembly instructions as the perfect example.

But when we think about our photos, we could say “a picture holds a thousand stories.” Photos contain stories—they are mnemonic devices. They help us remember things, details, that would certainly otherwise be forgotten.