The Impact of Visual Media on Human Emotion

Written imagery as well as visual imagery serve as necessary factors for effective communication in their respective mediums. The interpretation of such communication is often intentionally left open-ended. While some find a less direct form of messaging confusing, I argue that forcing an individual viewer to grapple with multiple possibilities of message is more beneficial in developing a curious and forward-thinking audience.

Take for example, Margaret Atwood’s It’s Not Climate Change, It’s Everything Change. The haunting animations used in the article coupled with the copious un-captioned photographs of times before, present, and yet to come, evoke a strong sense of mystery in the reader. Atwood, as an incredible artist, forces the act of not-knowing on the viewer, while at the same time provides a certain lens for them to view the issue. This avenue of communication is incredibly inspiring. These images of life in the future are just as prominent as the words within the article, and some could argue that they have more impact on the average reader. Business and marketing leader Ekaterina Walter stated, “Two years ago, marketers were spreading the maxim that ‘content is king,’ but now, it seems, ‘a picture really is worth a thousand words.'” If this statement has merit, then the film Before the Flood must have incredible impact on viewers, as I can vouch that it did for me.

In Before the Flood, Leonardo DiCaprio travels the world to give a glimpse of multiple perspectives of people and interviews them in their native environment. I was amazed at the specific sites that DiCaprio travelled, as I had recently been there myself. In Kangerlassuaq, Greenland, I walked atop the Greenland Ice Sheet, in perhaps the exact same spot as DiCaprio, and witnessed scientific evidence of the glacier melt first-hand. On the other side of the world, Leonardo filmed the end of The Revenant in Ushuaia, Argentina, to find snow for the set. Surprisingly, a year prior I had set sail from the same southernmost city in the world, to witness climate change on the magnificent snowy desert of a continent. While visiting these places, going back through my photos, and watching Before the Flood, I have experienced the absolute beauty and majesty of places like the poles and have forced myself to recognize that in as short 20 years, some of these awe-inspiring places will be gone or completely unrecognizable. No amount of facts or statistics could have moved me as monumentally as these images have.

I hope that the inspiring imagery that the film and the article contain show that dismissal of the facts of reality in exchange for the comforting world of deliberate ignorance is not acceptable and that it they will finally influence some to change for the betterment of the world and all those in it.

Evighedsfjord, Greenland

Ilulissat Fjord (also known as Greenland’s Iceberg Factory)


Neko Harbour, Antarctica

Danco Island, Antarctica











Note: Students On Ice is the educational program I travelled with and I strongly advise perusing their website and resources if anyone is even somewhat interested in the polar regions:

Works Cited

Before the Flood (2016) by Fisher Stevens