How to Analyze a Photograph

Photograph analysis helps you identify the photographs’ aesthetic qualities and detect the message transmitted by the photograph.

In this guide, you will learn how to analyze a photograph. 

Tips On How to Analyze a Photograph

A Guide to Analyzing Photographs

Analyzing a photograph involves studying the different elements that compose the photograph.

Photograph analysis is an objective action that allows you to interpret a photograph to understand its emotional sense.

Photograph analysis can help you understand professional photographers’ techniques and strategies in their portfolios. Here are some ideas you can use to analyze a photograph.

Describe What You See 

Analyzing a Photograph

The first step to analyzing a photograph is to tell what you are seeing.

You should be able to tell if the image you are seeing is an underwater photograph, a terrestrial image, a landscape photo or if it represents an animal. 

Keeping in mind that photography is a more visual art, you should tell this in simple words.

For instance, if you are looking at an image that has been printed on paper, you should look at it with a broader perspective. 

Typically, this might require you to step back a few feet and then look at it at around three times the diagonal length.

You can quickly tell the elements that compose the image at this distance. 

Try to describe what you are seeing and understand the relationship between the various elements in the image. That means you’ll be able to tell the following:

  • The title of the photograph 
  • The name of the photographer 
  • The title of the series 
  • The relationship between the image title and what you are seeing
  • Whether the photograph is conceptual, artistic, or illustrative 

This visual description is objective and builds a visual inventory in your mind.

Technically Analyze the Photograph 

Analyzing Photographs

In this step, you will now be able to dissect the various elements of the photograph.

This step will require you to have some technical knowledge and photographic skills as you will have to name specific points of the image. 

Without the necessary photographic knowledge, you might end up misinformed. 

Here are some of the components in a photograph you should technically analyze:

  • The impact 
  • The background 
  • The foreground 
  • The centers of interest 
  • The negative space 
  • The attributes 
  • The components of reading reinforcement 
  • The framing 
  • Balance and harmony of forms 
  • The management of masses 
  • The colors 
  • The light 
  • Modeling management 
  • The sharpness 
  • The creativity aspect 
  • The format 
  • The composition 

Like the visual description, technical analysis is objective and is completed mentally. 

Contextualize the Photograph

Analyzing Photographs

Contextualizing involves describing what you know about the context of the image creation. This narrative description of the image context enhances the impact of the image. 

In this step, you will need to be interested in the image’s external components. For instance, you will need the following:

  • Understand the technical and artistic context of photography 
  • Know the environmental context in which the image was captured 
  • Understand the history of the photographers that captured the image to be able to tell the motivations of their artistic actions 

This contextualization will help broaden your mind and better understand the photographer’s artistic approach.

Interpret the Image

How to analyze images

You can share comments on your feelings about the photograph in the interpretation stage, but you are not judging or criticizing it. 

It means you will remain in your perspective and bring your feelings on what you believe was the emotional sense and message the photographer was trying to transmit.

In this phase, try to do the following:

  • Determine the various functions of the image you are seeing 
  • Define the symbolism you see in the photograph 
  • Tell what the image is speaking to you 

That means looking for a sense of meaning in the various photograph elements. 

Frequently Asked Questions 

What Does Image Analysis Mean?

Image or photograph analysis is the extraction of emotional sense, aesthetic qualities, and message transmitted by a digital image using digital image processing techniques.

Why Do I Need To Analyze A Photograph?

Photograph analysis helps determine the photo’s appropriateness, reliability, and quality. This evaluation will help you determine which images you can use in your presentations, study and research.

What Is A Visual Analysis?

Visual analysis involves the use of visual elements to understand an artwork. Some visual elements may include scale, texture, color, light, and exposure. 

Final Thoughts

Photograph analysis can help to improve your creativity and photographic vision, improving your ability to capture more exciting photos.

With the above guide on analyzing a photograph, you will analyze photographs without criticism or judgment. 

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