Photography is important to society because it enables the diffusion of objective information through the visual capture of things as they really are. Photography allows people to accurately familiarize themselves with far-off landscapes and cultures. It also has the power to sway public opinion through the presentation of emotionally moving images.
Photography adds to the validity of distributed information. Photographs that accompany a news story, for instance, add a dimension of corroboration to words that could be fabricated. Photos also serve as visual aids for education, assembly and other purposes. Readers are better able to understand a subject when they can look at helpful pictures for reference.
Photography is more accurate than previous forms of visual media. The reliability of a painting, for example, depends on the skill level of the artist. Moreover, an artist can add, omit and embellish as he pleases. On the other hand, a camera is an instrument that produces standard results. It captures a scene the same way no matter who uses it.
People have an emotional response to images. What people see is often more likely to influence their opinion than what they simply read or hear. According to North Dakota State University's Media Department, this is part of the reason why the Farm Security Administration under Franklin Roosevelt hired photographers to capture the plight of rural America on film. Pictures of suffering farmers in the nation's journals moved the public to support the policies of the New Deal.