I don’t mean the cliche of a picture is worth a thousand words, but the belief that people put in photographs. Photographs and videos have a strong emotional pull for us. They bring us into the situation.
Wars are brought into our living rooms, we look into a starving child’s eyes in Africa, and see the destruction of a town by a natural disaster “first hand.” At least it seems first hand. Photos draw us into them. They seem more truthful than words. Yeah, with Photoshop photos can lie, but the clear bias of words aren’t present. That’s the danger.
Sharing a photo runs the risk of creating a stereotype, a mass generalization about a place, people, or an event. A photo grabs only a single moment of a single place. It can be great in summarizing an event, but it can summarize too much.
That’s my worry with this photograph. It’s of a side of a house in Xela, Guatemala. Yes, Guatemala is a poor country in Central America, but it’s not what all of Guatemala is like. And just because this house looks a little run down doesn’t mean the whole country is living in squalor.
So, I hope you look at this photo as simply an example of what some of Guatemala is like. It tells a story, but it’s only a chapter, or even a page, in the whole book that makes up Guatemala.