from “Tadaima” by Erin Cross. Tokyo, Japan. 2017.

A picture needs a thousand words.

Why photographers should write and ideas on how to practice it

Anne Murayama
7 min readApr 5, 2020


Two worlds cannot exist at the same time— just like photography and writing. Not every photographer can write well, and certainly, not all writers can take good photographs. But it doesn’t mean that it’s impossible. Because when these two crafts combine, it’s like two planets colliding and forming a brand-new galaxy.

I’m neither a pro at both, but I can fairly say that I love taking photographs as much as writing [about photography] — whether it’s about my own pictures or pictures by other photographers.

In photography, “what you see is what you get” is natural. So natural, that sometimes, only what’s projected on the picture is recognized and remembered— and not the story behind it, nor the person behind the camera.

Most picture books or photo zines are presented without captions. If there were, it’s usually just the place and year the picture was taken. This is okay. It leaves the viewers to imagine their own place and time.

But otherwise, it’s better.

A picture is worth a thousand words.

Cliche and true. But this doesn’t mean that photographs would mean less when accompanied by words. So before you reject the idea of writing about the pictures you’ve taken, it’s important to know why it’s important to do so.

Let me get this straight: not all photographic projects work best with words. Some photographs do speak louder than words and there is no contest to this. But my point is, should you ever get the question from someone as to why you took such photographs, as an artist, I think it is your job to effectively convey your thoughts and emotions to them. You owe this to them.

The basic way to dissect your own photography is to ask yourself a hundred times WHY you took that photo. Of course, we all take pictures because we find something pleasing to the eyes. But that reason isn’t enough.

Creating “pretty” pictures isn’t enough. There’s always something else that triggers you to click the shutter button. Something beyond liking what you saw, something deeper and more meaningful, something that reminds you of…



Anne Murayama

fka Erin Cross. Based in Tokyo, Japan. Black and white visual storyteller.