We’ve all heard the expression “a picture is worth a thousand words”. But as the author of the famous Dr. Seuss series, Theodore Giesel, once wrote, “Words and pictures are like yin and yang. Married, they produce a progeny more interesting than either parent.” That’s a fancy way of saying that a little bit of text can go a long way to changing the way we view an image, and can be more effective than either one on its own.

While we’re probably most familiar with photo captions or family names scribbled on the back of a snapshot, artists have used this powerful combination to invite us all to consider some pretty big concepts.

Check out the video below to learn about three artists who pair text with their photographs:

Want to learn more? Don’t forget to browse other inspiring resources on the fundamentals of photography at MOPA’s Photo 101Also, make sure to check out MOPA’s Nancy K. Dubois Library for unique resources related to photography and film.


Special thanks to the artists Duane Michals, Carrie Mae Weems and Chu Chu. 

Additional financial support is provided by the Gould Family Foundation and the City of San Diego.