Interpret Visual Images: Meaning & Intention in Pictures - Essay Sample

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  4
Wordcount:  889 Words
Date:  2023-01-30


Interpretation of visual images is the essence of trying to get the meaning of an image. It involves intensive observation of the characteristics of a photo to draw a meaningful intention of the photo. This concept is vital as it helps the audience to get the intended message encoded in a photo. For example, pictures with specific characteristics may be used for advertisement of a particular product. Photos are also used as a form of warning, while others are educative. When interpreting a photo, essential elements to consider includes patter, site, shadow, association, texture, shape, size, and tone. A combination of some of these elements or all of them might be used to interpret a photo depending on its nature. In this essay, the photo below (Fig. 1) will be interpreted using the most relevant elements that are applicable to it. The photo depicts an extra-ordinary American football player who should be remembered for a decade out of his competence in this game.

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Fig. 1 (Devis)

The Big Picture

The image is a depiction of a footballer photographed as the game continues. The image was taken by photographer Davis (2016) during a tournament. It was published in a newspaper on a sports news page. The purpose of the image was hence to give fundamental news concerning the competence of the player depicted in the photo. As a sports news photo, the intended audience was the general public, especially those who love football. The other category of the audiences are the football sponsors, promoters, and other footballers. To the other footballers, it acted as a challenge as it demonstrated a competent football player.


Specific characteristics can be observed from the elements found in this photo. The photo tells the story of an extraordinary footballer. By considering the significant factors, it is easy to classify its characteristics. The texture is one of the features that can be used to analyze this photo. This may refer to attribute such as the size of the image. In this image, the size of the image is big enough for a viewer to see it collect. The other characteristic is the depiction of the earth service or the height from the ground to the object. The height of the image from the ground is demonstrated trough the level of other players in the field. Besides, the level from the ground has also been emphasized by a text in the photo "God, did he get up there" (Davis). This text helps to emphasize the intended message to the audience.

The element of the pattern is also present in this photo. This element helps to show the event going on in a specific occasion. In this photo, the presence of the football uniform and the ball clearly show that there is a sport going on. This can be demonstrated further by the presence of spectators in the field. In the photo, there is a lot of spectators as spectators surround the playground. The other element in the photo that one can identify is the expression of other players in the photo. Only one player is near the depicted image of a player all the others stand still starring at this player.


The elements found in this photo can be used to interpret its intended meaning. One of the components is the use of the text "GOD, DID HE GET UP THERE" (Davis, 2016). This text is intended to create a mood of excitement and bewilderment. The role of the text is to show the audience the impression that the author wishes to build. The distance from the ground is also well demonstrated in the photo trough, making a comparison of the level of the other players and the one who is up in the air. His feet are in level with the waist of the nearby player. This means that, though it is normal for footballers to jump, the player depicted has exceeded the average height that other players can jump.

The reaction of other players also carries a lot of meaning in this photo. When the depicted player is on the air, the other players stand still watching him both his teammates and the opponents. This is not normal in a football as the opponents should be trying their best to get the ball instead of starring. This means that they are also frightened by the height that this player has jumped.

The cultural meaning of this photo is that the player depicted is extraordinary. In most of society, there is an average level of action that people consider normal (Keifer). However, those people who are capable of exceeding those limits are regarded as being extraordinary. Such people are praised and celebrated in society, especially if their actions are to the benefit of the community.

The theme of this photo is a superstar in a football team. In a team, there are those players who are perceived as the saviors. They are highly relied upon not only by the teammates but also by the spectators. Such depictions significantly contribute to them becoming a celebrity.

Works Cited

Davis, David. "The Catch, The "Divine" Photo, And The Photographer Who Was Rooting For The Cowboys." Deadspin, 14 Jan. 2016,

Kiefer, Lillesand. "RS&GA: Lesson 9 Image Interpretation." E-Krishi Shiksha, 21 Jan. 2014,

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Interpret Visual Images: Meaning & Intention in Pictures - Essay Sample. (2023, Jan 30). Retrieved from

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