Skip to the main content

Is a picture really worth 1,000 words?

Here at the Museum, we get excited about sharing and preserving stories—namely the individual immigration stories that span Canada chronologically and geographically, that together make up our collective Canadian story.

Often, stories are shared through written first-hand accounts, through research compiled from historical documents or through oral histories. All of which can be extremely moving and thought-provoking. But what about the power of a story shared through a photograph?

That said, I would like to explore whether an age-old adage really does prove true: Is a picture worth 1,000 words? Can a photograph tell a story in a way that is simply beyond words?

That is what the Museum, in partnership with a number of other fantastic local organizations[1] , led by the FUSION Halifax Immigration & Diversity action team, set out to determine this past spring.

As a partner of the local “Express Yourself. Do It, Do. Diversity Photo Contest,” we hoped that the many ways immigration shapes a community would be revealed, and that stories of community diversity would be shared through the photographs submitted.

The contest encouraged Haligonians[2] to give the team a snapshot (literally!) of what diversity looks like through their eyes; the eyes of the people who live, work and play here.

We challenged the people of Halifax to capture the complex nature of what diversity in this city means to them through a picture.

Rather than trying to limit expressions of diversity by narrowing it down to a single image, we hoped that the power of a photograph would be able to convey how people saw diversity in their own backyard, so to speak, in a way that words couldn’t.


A young woman looks at framed photos that are hanging on a brick wall.

Checking out the finalists’ photos on display at The Hub, Halifax

The goal of the contest was really to encourage the community to get involved and to express themselves, to inspire and to educate from a grassroots perspective, regardless of their level of photography skill.

The response was overwhelming! The diverse themes captured in the almost 80 photos submitted ranged from natural landscapes, to racial and cultural diversity of people, to gender identity and sexual orientation, to the built-environment of our city, to food, religion, music and beyond.

The photos were shared via social media and people came out in droves to see the finalist photos on display and to show their support for the contestants.

While we could endlessly debate whether a picture really is worth 1,000 words (maybe 999? 1002? Ha!), I think the photos submitted speak for themselves. But, what do you think? I encourage you to check out the photo gallery of all of the submissions to decide whether you agree!

What does diversity in your hometown, or across Canada, look like through your eyes? Do you have a photo that you think has been able to capture this? Can an image really convey a message in a way that words can’t? What are the strengths and challenges of communicating what diversity means through a photograph?

Share your thoughts with us!

A lighthouse with a person in a wheelchair looking at the lighthouse, another person standing beside him.

The Express Yourself. Do It, Do. Diversity Photo Contest’s winning photo


  1. Diversity Photo Contest also in partnership with: Alliance Française, Halifax Public Libraries, Halifax Refugee Clinic, Immigrant Settlement & Integration Services (now known as Immigrant Services Association of Nova Scotia ISANS) and The Hub. Funded by: Citizenship and Immigration Canada and United Nations Association in Canada—Multimedia & Multiculturalism
  2. You may be asking yourselves, “Haligonians? Did she just make up that word?” Unfortunately, I can’t take credit for it. Haligonian is the true moniker for a resident of Halifax!