An Image Speaks 1000 Words

As one of our recent tasks, we had to write a visual analysis of an image by a fashion photographer. We got a choice of photos to pick from and I ended up choosing this photo by Irving Penn (below). I think as one of our first independent tasks, it’s crucial to understand the impact a visual can have on its audience- especially being a communication course! Our task was to write a 750 word essay after having visually analysed the photo.

I found the overall process much harder than I thought I would. Describing the image is where I started and explaining the composition of the photo. This is probably the simplest part, since you then go on to explain the connotations of the placement of objects, the colour palette, the choice of objects used and size. There is a reason a creative director would choose to use these specific methods within their imagery, which is exactly what I needed to discuss in my visual analysis.

Irving Penn

I started brainstorming ideas which made it much easier to start writing the essay. Initially, I investigated the time era and found that this image was set around World War 2, so the use of butterflies symbolises hope and a new beginning. The melon specifically links to womens sexuality, which would be socially acceptable during the 1940’s but not now in the 21st century. The placement of the objects are almost a little flirty and the monochrome colour scheme allows the audience to produce a reaction not based off a vibrant colour. When I first began writing this essay, it was daunting- which after speaking to my coursemates, was a mutual feeling. I thought it would have been simpler than I found it to be but it made sense to find it difficult, as my first piece of assessed individual work in a completely new environment, studying something brand new.

All in all, after going into further depth, the task made much more sense although reflecting on it, I would already make changes to what I wrote, since having learnt more. These are improvements which I aim to take into the future with me and for any upcoming briefs. For instance, it would make sense to reference any photography which has taken a similar stance in its creative direction and the influence that has had. Or I found that its important to include more of my own interpretation and the emotion it produced for me, as opposed to just analysing what I think it means for the general audience. Small aspects like this I think will be useful for essays in the future, showing this was a crucial first task.

All stock photos courtesy of Unsplash

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