Photo Analysis Guidelines

Name:  ____________________________        Course/Hr:  __________________

Analyzing a Photograph or Illustration

Part 1 – Objective Observation

 

Subject

(people, objects, gender, age, clothing, facial expressions, posture) (What is the subject of this photograph? Is it a person, place, event, object or idea? Was the subject posed, arranged, of caught unawares for the camera? Does the subject symbolize something more than itself?)

 

Setting & Context

(indoor/outdoor, urban/rural, time of day,

time of year, background – objects) (What year was the photograph taken? Who took the photograph?

What was the context or intended use of the photograph? Has the photograph been altered for presentation? Has anything been added or removed

from the image? Does the image have a caption? Is it part of a sequence or collage?

 

Action

(What activity/event is shown? What are people doing?  Are they working in groups or alone?

Relationship to each other?) (How is the subject framed? How is the subject isolated from his/her/its surroundings? What camera angle and shot distance are used? What does the framing suggest the

viewer should focus on? Does the framing create new meaning between objects or people

in the image? Does the framing create any comparisons, contrasts or tensions within the

image? What effect does the photographer's point of view have on the picture's meaning? If there are people in the photographs, what are they doing? How are they dressed? How do they look? Do they convey any emotion or feeling?)

 

Frame

How is the subject framed? How is the subject isolated from his/her/its surroundings? What camera angle and shot distance are used? What does the framing suggest the viewer should focus on? Does the framing create new meaning between objects or people in the image? Does the framing create any comparisons, contrasts or tensions within the image? What effect does the photographer's point of view have on the picture's meaning? If there are people in the photographs, what are they doing? How are they dressed? How do they look? Do they convey any emotion or feeling?

 

Depth of Field

Depth of field refers to the distance or range at which objects appear in sharp focus in the frame. When depth of field is small, only some elements of the frame are in focus (foreground, middle ground or background). When depth of field is large, all elements in the frame will be in focus. How does the photographer use depth of field? What is in focus in the frame? What is out of focus? What details are emphasized through focus?

Light

Lighting can contribute to the mood and dramatic effect of an image, as well as make it visible in the first place. How does the photograph make use of light? Did the photographer use natural, available, or artificial light? Is the image well or poorly lit?

Does the photographer's use of light or shadow create or add meaning in the image?

Does lighting help achieve the overall effect in the photograph? Why might the photographer have used light or shadow in a particular way?

 

 

Other Clues

(What other details do you see in the photo?  Examples: tools, vehicles, animals, buildings, signs.  Is it a candid or posed photo?)

 

Is there a title? What information does it give you? _________________________________________

 

Is there a caption? What information does it give you? _______________________________________

 

Part 2 - Subjective Observation

  1. What conclusions can you draw from the people or objects in this photo/illustration?
  2. What questions do you now have that are not answered in the photo/illustration?