Student Name:                                                    Class:                                                    Date:

Reading a Visual Text : Photograph or Other Illustrative Art

Choose one of these: Six Photos. Please print out the one you choose, and staple it to the printout of this exercise. Please hand write clearly in black ink, or copy/paste this handout into a Word doc. for keyboard completion. Please italicize your answers.

A. Summarizing the Visual Text:
Begin with essential information such as who took the photograph, where it appeared, (see the course template, too, for how to form that introductory information) and who the intended audience is. In a few sentences, include a general description of the photograph and what you see as its main point or purpose.
B. Annotate (take notes about) the photograph to explore its purpose and effect. Try to determine how the elements of the visual text work together to create meaning. These questions will provide a useful starting place:
  What first strikes you about the photograph?


2. What elements do you notice immediately?


3. Who or what is the main subject of the photograph?


4. What colors and textures dominate?


5. What air temperature, sounds and smells do you imagine are part of this scene?


6. How are the elements of the photograph arranged?


a. What is in the background?

b. In the foreground?

c. Does the composition (arrangement of elements) seem natural or staged?


7. What questions does the photograph raise for you?



8. What does this photo remind you of in your own experience?


9. What storyline does the photograph suggest/imply to you? This might be like the sentence or two that describes/summarizes the idea of a movie.


C. Analyzing the Visual Text
In your analysis, be sure to include a brief summary of the photograph, a thesis statement that presents your interpretation of the photographer’s message, and a discussion of how the visual elements of the photograph contribute to its overall effect. The following questions will help you analyze the photograph’s purpose and meaning:
1. What surprises, perplexes, or intrigues you about the photograph?


What clues suggest the photograph’s intended audience?
a. How might the photograph appeal to that audience?
3. How do design elements—colors, shapes, perspective, focus, background, foreground—determine the photograph’s meaning or serve its purpose?

a. What statement or overall feeling is made by the combination of visual details?


   This material is derived from A Writer's Reference by Diane Hacker from Bedford St.Martins web site