Photographs can be the most powerful storytellers: 1 picture = 1000 words, as is often said. In fact, some photographs say things words cannot begin to express; they seem to be literally in the world that they show us, bringing famous people or events near to us every time we see them. Press and celebrity photographs, for instance, bring us face to face with a normally distant person—a president, a sports or movie star—and help us to understand them as humans like ourselves.
In the United States, there is a strong tradition of photography for illustrated magazines. Some of these publications were homegrown, some imported from Europe, brought over by waves of refugees before and during World War II. Meanwhile, American photography developed a fine tradition of appreciating ordinary or popular things: Edward Weston's peppers, Walker Evans' billboards and folk signs.
During the Great Depression, photographers were enlisted by the U.S. Government to document the hardships experienced by Americans all over the country. Well-chosen groups of camera operators, like Evans or Dorothea Lange, were sent by the Farm Security Administration to collect images of those hardest hit by widespread drought and unemployment in the 1930s. Photography and literature became closely paralleled art forms, occasionally converging in publications such as Life Magazine, which had worldwide circulation.
These human stories must be told both in words and unforgettable images. These pictures are priceless, far beyond a thousand words; they are worth tens of millions of viewers' memories and hopes.