Often we hear the words picture, photo and image used interchangeably, yet they somehow still sound correct. It’s not really that big of a deal, but for the sake of their existence, why not use them in the proper way?
Originating from the Latin word pictūra (The art of painting; a painting), you can already guess that a picture generally refers to a painting. It may also be a simple drawing or even a photograph. It is a visual representation of a scene. From that point of view, a picture is an image where groups of colored points on a flat surface will look like an object, a landscape or a person.
A picture may simply be just a picture to some, but for most people, it is a helpful tool. It may explain how to do things or even be an inspiration or motivation. As the saying goes, “A picture is worth a thousand words.”
Originating from the Latin word imāgō (a copy; likeness), an image is an imitation of something or someone. It is an artifact that acts as a visual representation, usually of a physical object or a person. A still image can be either two-dimensional (photograph, screen display) or three-dimensional (sculpture, hologram).
Coming from the Greek words phôs (light) and graphê (drawing, writing), a photograph, or photo, is actually an image created by light captured in a light-sensitive surface, which is usually photographic film. Photos are usually captured by a camera. As a result, the image captured through the lens of the camera is a new visual representation of whatever was photographed, be it a person, thing or scene.
In that sense, a photo may be an image of someone or something, or even a picture of someone or something, but images and pictures are not necessarily photos.
The answer depends on their words of origin. Just by knowing how they were coined, you’ll get a brighter picture of what they really represent.
With the word picture, the word painting is incorporated. While it may be similar to a photograph or an image (a visual representation of a person, a thing, or a scene), it does not have to be planted on a piece of paper just like a photograph. A picture can be on any flat surface, such as a canvass. Unlike a photograph, a picture is not necessarily made with a camera (hence its word of origin, light) but can also be made by hand, through drawing or painting. That being said, a photo is strictly a captured image through the use of a camera, and it is a type of a picture.
Now, squeezing in the word image with the words picture and photo, you can immediately tell that it somehow fits. This is because an image is an artifact that acts as a visual representation, usually of a physical object or a person, and both pictures and photos fit under this description. The main difference is that an image can either be two-dimensional (picture/photo) or three-dimensional (sculpture/hologram). Other forms of an image can exist in an individual’s mind, called a mental image.
In conclusion, taking in their definitions and usage, a photo is a type of a picture, and a picture is a type of image. Not all images are pictures or photos, however.
Note: If the word image is used as a technical term, it may also refer to any digital copies of pictures or photos stored on your computer devices.
|Visual representation of someone, something, or a scene on any flat surface||Visual representation of someone, something or a scene in forms of 2-D, 3-D, or imagination||Visual representation of someone, something or a scene on a piece of special paper|
|Includes drawing, photography and painting||Includes photography, paintings, sculptures, holograms and imagination||Taken by a camera|
|A type of image||Universal term for a visual representation of any kind||A type of picture|
Watch the video below to know more about photography and how it progressed throughout the years.