Visual analysis | English homework help

Visual Analysis Notes:


The following links provide examples of visual analysis. 

The first is a short discussion of visual elements in the painting Landscape with the Fall of Icarus to help you better understand the language of visual analysis and the application of those elements when analyzing images. Click here  (Links to an external site.)to go to the presentation. 

Here (Links to an external site.) is an analysis of photographs by Bruce Davidson. If you have an aversion to clowns, this may not be for you. 

Paying careful attention to the information here on analysis.  Your next APA paper will require you to analyze advertisements.  The language and skills used in this unit will make your own analysis later a breeze! 


Visual analysis terms: 

focal point: the central figure of the image; the object of emphasis

figure-ground contrast: the difference between what is in front (the central figure) and what is in back (the background)

proximity: any significant details related to how objects in the image are related in space or about any distinct groupings of objects within the image 

similarity: has to do with how objects are related in size, color, shape, etc. 

color: the significance of color in an image, including any symbolism suggested by color, emotional responses associated with color, brightness, contrast, etc. 

continuation: also called the line of continuation, this term refers to the continued visual line suggested by the elements of an image (start with the focal point, then narrate where your eye goes second, third, etc. until you have discussed the image) 

lines: the effect of lines in an image, to suggest movement, separation, to advance the line of continuation

closure: the human tendency to fill in missing information; this is most commonly seen in media images that include text 

story: what the image communicates

context: background information that enhances understanding of the image; this may include anything from the date of the image, the location, the occasion, the artist or photographer, or the title



Write short visual analysis journal of at least 350 words that asserts supports a clear dominant impression of an editorial photograph selected from the options that follow. The essay should include the language of visual analysis as covered in the Visual Analysis slide presentation (linked from the Module 2 Overview page). Refer to the notes on the previous page for more instruction. Title your journal, fully identify the photograph in the first sentence, and follow the text of your response with a citation for the photograph. 

use the terms (at least a few of them) to analyze the picture. For example, what’s the line of continuation, figure ground contrast, etc. Make sure you fully identify the picture you choose.


OPTIONS: Review the following collections of photographs and select ONE PHOTOGRAPH as the focus of your journal. 

Bruce Davidson (Links to an external site.) photographs. 

Photo exhibits (Links to an external site.) from NPR. 

Civil Rights era photography (Links to an external site.) from The Guardian


  • to demonstrate skill in writing a basic essay with a clear thesis and strong support 
  • to demonstrate understanding of the language of visual analysis 
  • to demonstrate effective use of illustration in writing (as detailed in the “Show; don’t tell” podcast)

Rhetorical Situation: 

Purpose: to describe a photograph using the language of visual analysis accurately and effectively

Audience: a general audience of readers with varying backgrounds and beliefs and at least a high school education, including your English instructor 

Point of view: The essay should be written in third person point of view. 


In order to be eligible to be graded from 100% the journal entry has to be original and complete and clearly respond to the assignment instructions.