If you are not a professional writer, it’s extremely difficult to describe a situation, a person, an animal or just about anything. Instead of using text to describe, it’s much better to insert a picture. That’s why photographs, cartoons, sketches, paintings or graphs are so successful.
When I saw the striking picture depicting a rainbow of parrots, I knew that using text would be useless to describe them. Instead, I decided to write a post about the beauty of the photographic composition and the origin of the phrase, “One picture is worth a thousand words.”
This phrase first appeared in a 1921 ad in Printer’s Ink which was written by publicist Frederick Barnard. Barnard headlined his ad, “One look is worth a thousand words.” He attributed this maxim to “a famous Japanese philosopher.’” Six years later, Barnard revised the saying to read “One picture is worth ten thousand words,” and then republished it in the same magazine as a “Chinese proverb.”
Barnard thought his ploy would give his words added weight. He was right. For a time, Bartlett’s identified Barnard’s line as “a Chinese proverb.” Other sources attributed his proverb to Confucius. The Macmillan Dictionary of Quotations had it both ways. They cited Barnard as the maxim’s author, adding “Ascribed to Chinese origin.”