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We who write about photography owe a lot to Frederick Barnard, an advertising manager in the 1920s. When selling ad space on the side of streetcars, he used the words, “One look is worth a thousand words”. At first he claimed the saying came from a Japanese proverb, but shortly changed it to ‘One picture is worth ten thousand words’, attributing it to the Chinese. It appeared with Chinese characters (畫意能達萬言) in Barnard’s journal Printers’ Ink. Barnard later admitted that he called it “a Chinese proverb, so that people would take it seriously.” Later, the proverb would become attributed to Confucius.

Finding its way into dictionaries of quotations, the phony proverb became the mantra of every photoeditor and everyone who writes preface or prolegomenon to a photobook. I would not spend a thousand words explaining every single picture on this site but I hope the images here spark good debate and imbue knowledge worth more than a thousand words. So please leave your comments and constructive criticisms below so that I can improve the website to spew even more words.

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