A Picture Worth More than A Thousand Words

The Smithsonian Photography Initiative is calling its new web-based forum "Click! Photography Changes Everything," a title that begs the question, how so?

The story behind the somewhat haunting photo of two young boys really drove the point home for me. Elijah and Isaiah, orphans in New Mexico, faced a rocky start. At ages 4 and 5, they were about to be institutionalized because their "high-needs" status prevented them from entering into Foster Care. When a photographer from the Heart Gallery, an organization that uses photography to bring awareness to adoption, snapped some photos of them, she couldn’t get any smiles, only fearful and icy stares. But a couple saw the photo at a Roswell, New Mexico, exhibition and was so moved that they adopted the boys. For Elijah and Isaiah, it was the click that changed everything. To Heart Gallery co-founder Diane Granito, it was a “single, but indicative, moment in their lives captured with compassion and skill” that had the strength to change the way families are formed.


Find more art-affirming stories at the Click! website which launched just last Friday. The site featuring nearly 20 essays from people of all disciplines weighing in on how photography affects who we are, where we go, and what we do, is a facet of a decade-long research project, the Smithsonian Photography Initiative, to make the Institution's collection of more than 13 million images more accessible to the public. Director Merry Foresta says the stories on Click! "are meant to represent an accumulated archive of different viewpoints and different contexts about photography," adding that the future holds even more promise of "unique points of view."

Get the latest on what's happening At the Smithsonian in your inbox.