- Record your initial reactions
What do you notice first? What catches your attention? Is the image familiar to you? How does it make you feel? What does it make you think about?
- Explore the visual elements and identify important details
Consider the details that matter most. Look at the way the image is composed. Does it use colors in a special way? What point of view does it use? Can you identify one or more focal points? Does the image use contrast, lighting, arrangement, focus, balance, or other visual elements to produce a certain affect? What details surprise you? Does anything seem unusual or out of place?
- Consider the context and history of the image
When was the image produced? By whom? For what purpose? You may have to do some research to answer these questions. Try to learn as much as you can about the artist or photographer. Think about what the image may be responding to. Look at its genre and medium and compare it with similar images or visual texts from the same time period.
- Consider the process used to create the image
What type of image is it? Think about the medium used (photograph, collage, painting, digital illustration, or cartoon, for example) and compare the image to others in that medium. How is its style and technique similar to or different from others in that medium?
- Reconsider your initial reactions
Visual texts often produce immediate, emotional reactions. In light of your detailed analysis, go back and reconsider your first impressions. Does your analysis reinforce your impressions? Challenge them? Decide which details you think are most important, and use them to develop an interpretation that you can present and support in your paper or presentation.
[Eng101 course and Time Magazine]