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What’s a Picture Worth?

written by Aren Cohen 12 August 2009

Aren Cohen, MBA, MAPP '07 is a learning specialist working with academically, motivationally and emotionally challenged students in the leading private schools in New York City. As shown in her website and blog, Strengths for Students, Aren uses the tenets of positive psychology to teach her students to use their strengths of character to change educational challenges into educational triumphs. Full bio. Aren's articles are here.

Lo siento, Monet

Lo siento, Monet

As an undergraduate, I studied Art History. My favorite painters were the Impressionists. I loved their work because their pictures captured moments, places and feelings so beautifully, whether it was Degas’ dancers, Van Gogh’s Starry Night or Monet’s haystack series.


Art and painting have changed, becoming more conceptual with the development and growth of photography. Photographs are an art form in and of themselves, and even with their incredible realism they hearken back to the Impressionists I admire. Photos freeze a moment in time—an expression, a location, an emotion—letting us hold on to a ‘permanent’ reminder of something wonderful. Photographs allow us to savor.


Spend Time with Pictures
Sonja Lyubomirsky’s iPhone application, Live Happy is based on her research on Happiness. In the “Savoring” portion of the application, she encourages us to use photographs to savor.



However, long before the iPhone app, people were using their camera phones to savor the moment. (I admit that even before I downloaded Live Happy, I often visited pictures of special occasions on my iPhone, especially when I was sitting on the Subway. Why not? The pictures make me smile and reminisce and all of the sudden my commute is much more fun!)


And it is not just technology that allows us to savor. How many people treasure their photo albums, or carry pictures of their family in their wallets? Pictures of vacations hiking in the woods or seeing the New York skyline can take our breath away, making us marvel again and again at nature’s and man’s creations.




Family Photos
Photos of birthdays and holidays that gather friends and family make us give thanks for the love and joy in our lives. Even the tradition of Grandma’s “brag books” with pictures of grandchildren, which in my mind has become akin to friends posting photo albums on Facebook, allow people to share and bask in their moments and memories.


If you are not a picture taker, I strongly urge you to become one, NOW. The technology is easy, but, in truth, seizing precious moments is hard. Our memories are fickle. Words are only so evocative. Songs are better, but they don’t raise the image in your mind’s eye.


The Impressionists knew what they were doing. When it comes to savoring, pictures are the best. They’re worth a lot more than a thousand words.


Lo siento, Monet courtesy Guillermo
Dark City III (Manhattan) courtesy of nosha
Grandchildren (Kathryn Britton’s 1st birthday party) courtesy of Kathryn Britton

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