Look closely at the photograph provided and answer the following questions. Follow up activity: Discuss your answers in a group and work together to answer the last question at the bottom of the page. Work with the Photo Terms and Write a Photo Critique sheets to help answer the final question.
Describe just what you see in the photograph (not what you think the photograph is about). List details:
Describe the photograph using the following terms:
Angle and Space: How far away did the photographer put you from the subject?
Composition: What is the first thing you notice about the photograph? Where does your eye go next?
Gesture and Expression: If there is a person in the photo, how does his or her body look? What are they doing? Does it represent an emotion or feeling? What would they say if they could?
Patterns: Are there any repeating things you see in the photograph? Objects? People? Shapes? Describe.
What do you think is the message of your photograph?
The direction and position from which the photographer takes the photograph.
The relationship between the light and dark parts of a picture.
Foreground, Middleground, and Background
The space in between the placement of all the elements included in a picture. Foreground is closest to the viewer, middleground is half the distance back, and background is the furthest space in the frame.
Framing and Cropping
The decision the photographer makes about what to include in the picture, or how it is framed. Photographs can also be cropped to highlight only a certain part of the picture.
The balance between the left and right sides of the picture. If the photograph has the same elements on each side, the picture is symmetrical. If it does not, it is asymmetrical.
A photographer will use different visual elements to bring the viewer's attention to a particular part the photograph. Elements such as line, shape, size, texture, repetition (patterns) can guide your eyes around a picture or frame a subject within the frame of the picture. As a whole, they communicate visual messages that help tell the story of the photograph. For example, viewers tend to pay more attention and notice elements that are larger in size, closer to them, repeated, centered, and brighter than to things that are small, dark and off in the background.
POINT OF VIEW or PERSPECTIVE
When looking at any photograph it is important to ask not just what the picture is about, but also why it was taken. Every picture taken has a purpose, a reason behind it that motivated the photographer to push the button at a particular time. Consider the point of view of the photographer, whoever hired them, and the intended audience of the picture and how those things can influence what a picture looks like.
When looking at an historical image today it is important to consider the time period when the image was taken, including how and where it was viewed at the time it was created. It is useful to compare the original context to how the image is looked at today, which may have very different values, beliefs, and ways in which we see and use photographs.