A picture is worth a thousand words is the cliché uttered in newsrooms down the ages.
And it's true - and not true.
On May Day in 1972, the French photographer Laurence Brun took a picture of three confident young women in mini-skirts in Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan. They are smiling and westernised, aware of the camera but not posing for it.
The picture became an icon for a different Afghanistan from the one the Taliban would come to rule (and may well come to rule again quite soon).
"It became the most powerful image of a Kabul where women could go to university and find employment," says Tim Bonyhady who has written a book about images of Afghanistan and how the pictures reflect the country.
But Professor Bonyhady of the Australian National University points out that the picture wasn't the full truth, even at the time.
Women who revealed too much of their bodies for the zealots were getting attacked with acid by Islamic fundamentalist youths. There were also women who were speaking at gatherings of Maoists and Russian-oriented communists - women who were far from the westernised ideal of fun-loving, "liberated" women.
The picture told a part of the story but on its own it didn't tell the full truth. It was a piece of a jigsaw.
The picture became an icon for a different Afghanistan from the one the Taliban would come to rule.
But that picture had a life. In the years up to 2001, with the Taliban in full control, executing women in the football stadium and controlling women in every other aspect of life, the image was referred to outside Afghanistan as the way the country once was before the tyranny. It became one of the images which justified war.
Spool on nearly 20 years when Donald Trump was contemplating honouring his election pledge to withdraw troops from Afghanistan. Professor Bonyhady says in Two Afternoons in the Kabul Stadium: A History through Clothes, Carpets and the Camera that Trump was swayed by the picture.
"The Washington Post revealed that Trump's National Security adviser, HR McMaster, showed him 'a snapshot of Afghan women in mini-skirts' - Brun's image - to demonstrate that 'western norms had existed there before and could return'. Some reports suggested that, particularly because the young women were attractive, Brun's photograph prompted Trump to increase the US force. As one headline put it, Trump 'changed mind on Afghanistan after seeing a picture of women in mini-skirts'."
So there is no doubt about the power of images, of video certainly but still images, too. Think of the picture of Ben Roberts-Smith in full special forces gear with a crusader cross on his chest (and which was later revealed to have been photo-shopped out when it was released by the Department of Defence).
The cross of the crusader is such a potent symbol that the picture reveals an attitude to the operation in Afghanistan. It is not, for example, a pro-democracy symbol but, in that modern military context, an anti-Muslim symbol (as it has been since the Crusades 700 years ago). The Australian winner of the Victoria Cross chose to wear it and someone in the Department of Defence chose to erase it when it was to be seen by the Australian public.
"In the context of the war in Afghanistan, this cross may be interpreted most obviously as identifying Muslims as enemies to be killed," Professor Bonyhady wrote.
"Prohibition of such imagery only happened in 2018 as part of General Angus Campbell banning 'death symbology and iconography'. But officials in the Department of Defence clearly understood in 2011 that it would damage the reputation of the ADF for Roberts-Smith to be seen wearing the cross. Hence they airbrushed it, burnishing his image.
"It is the latest in a long line of images that have shaped international perceptions of events in Afghanistan. Often, but not always, they have been taken with political intent, frequently staged and sometimes doctored."
And sometimes not doctored. The pictures of the Twin Towers burning 20 years ago, with gashes high in their side where the hijacked airliners had sliced in, were enough to remind ordinary Americans and allied governments of the rationale for war.
Professor Bonyhady doesn't just look at press pictures but at clothes and rugs and other less formal images like posters.
He likes a picture of John Lennon wearing an Afghan coat at the launch of the Sgt Pepper album in 1967. These garments, with the fur on the inside and the skin on the outside, became standard hippy gear.
Professor Bonyhady says the craze for these coats "could only happen because Afghanistan's relationship with the rest of the world was changing".
And it was: Kabul was a stop-off on the hippy trail from Europe to India. At that time, you could eat strawberries and cream in a Kabul cafe, watching hippy girls play chess (I know because I did).
But even this image in words isn't the truth. As we sat in the cafes of Kabul before getting back on the Magic Bus, another Afghanistan was out there, intolerant, zealous, medieval, lusting for blood and ready to expel the hippies and the Russians - and now the Americans and their Australian allies.
Images are powerful. But they aren't the whole story. They need words and context around them.
- Two Afternoons in the Kabul Stadium: A History of Afghanistan through Clothes, Carpets and the Camera, by Tim Bonyhady, is published by Text ($34.99).