Visual Language in Photography
Visual language in photography relates to visual elements contained withing an image that we're able to read and make sense of that communicate ideas and meaning.
Your introduction to Visual language will usually include the use of an image of Kylie Minogue shot by Derek Ridgers, in the session we deconstruct the image, analysing it, using the list below. Through this process we arrive at a series of deductions that allow us to speculate as to why the images exists, what it's purpose is, how it was shot, why it was shot in that way, what equipment was used, whether the image is natural or constructed, who the audience is, how the image communicates to that audience specifically and a whole raft of other aspects that give us a far greater understanding of what photography is and how it communicates.
Through this deconstruction/analysis process, we can see what visual langauge tools the photographer uses and bit by bit, we come to understand that images that seem to have just been 'taken' are in fact carefully constructed and designed in order to maximise their impact on the audience.
Another set of images that we look at are Thomas Ruff's deadpan portraits. We discuss the difference between the portrait of Kylie and Ruffs portraits in terms of the images being subjective or objective.
Within your work you will need to show that you've analysed two or more of your key research images. The suggestion is that you produce 2 high quality images in conjunction with your research and print these off A4 in size and in full colour. These images should be annotated using some of the prompts listed here below showing that you understand how images are constructed. In addition to the annotations that accompany the A4 images, there should also be an in-depth written component as part of your research that uses additional images (Smaller) where you attempt to analyse the images fully using as may of the prompts below
discussing why these elements are used and how they could be used and incorporated into your own work.
• Flat or contrasty - tonality
• Mono-chromatic, colour contrast or discord
• Composition - line - rule of thirds
• Format - Landscape/Portrait
• Location - scene -set
• Use - documentary; social; fashion; landscape; portrait, advert, art, editorial
• Production values - size, format, quality
• People -persons - who, what, when, why, how
• Expression/body language
• Meaning - message - semiotics
• Target market and audience
• Socio-economic factors/Class
• Western or Non Western - cultural values
• Sexism, rascism, patriarchy
• Educational or commercial
• Art bias - expressionist, impressionist, abstract, minimalist
• Inspired by and following in the tradition of
* What if the image was colour/B&W?
An additional method of deconstructing the images and making sense of them can be found here. This is a 13 point questioning approach that uses a system based on one used at the Tate Modern.