In a meeting with a business client, I was asked why I combine words and images in all of my writing. Several people remarked on how innovative it was to see the combination – and how good it felt! I agree. 

Storytelling by combining words and images goes back at least 40,000 years. Yet, in the West, this combination only continues in certain venues. As I was researching various fields and exploring their varied sources, I reflected on how modern advertising has successfully used the power of combining images with words: emotion with intellect. How often, for example, do you see an ad that doesn’t have a photo or video? And then there’s the media and the web. Yet, in many business settings, images are considered unnecessary,  distracting, or trite.

When we are learning to read and to love it, virtually all books have lots of pictures that simultaneously tell the story that goes with the words. Yet, somewhere around mid-elementary school, this practice of combining words and images begins to evaporate We migrate to more “grown-up” books without images. We’ve even developed a separate genre for books with lots of images: picture books. I wonder why. Did this come to be because of the cost of printing? Whatever the reason, reintegrating words and images again is both relevant and powerful. Together, they form a whole that helps us more deeply understand ourselves, each other, and the world around us.


Photo by Barbara
Hidden Lakes
Minneapolis, MN.