The Woman in the Red Dress – the power of imagery

By now the picture of The “Woman in the Red Dress” has gone global, it has been picked up by all major magazine and newspaper picture desks and used as a fulcrum for their stories. Picture it: a woman in a fashionable red sundress and white handbag being sprayed with pepper spray by the riot police in Gezi Park, Turkey.

We discussed the impact of the dramatic events in Turkey in a recent blog, and observing the evolution of the situation has made me realise just how potent imagery has been in galvanising global support.  She is after all not the stereotypical protester.

The contrast between her vibrant dress and the darkness of the riot police has become, in the eyes of the world, symbolic of a contrast between peace and violence. The Woman in the Red Dress is captivating because she is so tragically out of place in the context.

They say a picture says more than a thousand words, but what makes an image so powerful is also how it engages with your emotions. We empathise more with an image than with words – it is so much stronger. This is exactly why the picture of The Woman in the Red Dress has become so quickly iconic. It shows how substantial the impact of an image can be. It has changed public opinion and catapulted the disturbances to the front pages of the world news.

In a world with shorter attention spans, the power of imagery is ever growing. So is the use of images and videos, both in business and in our daily lives. An example is to see how Instagram and Vine are used not only to communicate with friends, but also as a ‘Visual PR’ tool by businesses. As a society we are moving towards communicating more through images than through words.

We feel the full power of a picture. It does not only say a thousand words, or engage with our emotions; it also speaks a universal language. Images tell a story in a way that is so much stronger than text. These characteristics are what make them so powerful.

Tulsa Tollemark, Research Analyst Intern

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