Analytical reading of an image is a process in which the person looking asks critical questions that reveal the image and learn more about it. Picture reading is a skill that develops over time, as it takes experience to see. Analyzing any image and drawing conclusions about its reality is an essential skill in art. The standard way to explore an image is divided into three steps: description, deduction (subtraction), and speculation. For my analysis, I will use a picture of a celebrity, Justin Bieber (Appendix A). In the analysis process, I will examine the overall compositional parts of the image, assume the cultural background of the individual in the photograph, and ask critical questions.
A Closer Look with a Combination of Deduction
The image is a selfie, a personal photo taken with a front-facing camera. The photo was taken in a 1-to-1 square format and of poor quality. The picture shows a young man with a haircut and thin unshaven hair. The man probably used a flash or direct light source as highlights. It is confirmed by the glare in the pupils and the bright shadows behind the figure. The man who belongs to Caucasoid race has dark hair and eyes. There are many tattoos on the visible parts of his body, and the man also has a pierced eyebrow. In the photo, the man raises his eyebrows; one arm is bent at the elbow and is on the back of his head, while the other is not visible.
Behind the man, you can see a light shade wall, and in the right corner is white linen. The overall tone of the image is fair, in a cool color palette: there are green, white, blue, and white colors. The flash and highlights create a contrast between the man’s figure and the background. One can assume that behind the man’s back is a wall or part of a bed. Straight strips of dark color are probably the contours of the wooden boards from which the walls are made. However, it is difficult to accurately establish the material and specificity of the background due to the small size of the image and small coverage.
The most important visual elements of the image are the tattoos: they will further reveal more information about the man’s personality and ask critical questions. The number of tattoos is significant, creating assumptions about a man’s age, wealth, and quality of life. In addition, the tattoos are not only associated with depictions of animals or nature but also with religious motifs. Based on this, in the next step, I will focus on tattoos as the most crucial element of the image.
Critical Evaluation and Speculation
The image is quite ordinary, but a more detailed analysis of the man’s personality can be made due to the visual elements. As mentioned earlier, the most important visual elements are tattoos. The man has two large animal tattoos on his chest: a lion and a bear, and as far as I know, men use them to indicate respect and power. These tattoos are probably related to the strong personality of the celebrity. In addition, there is a tattoo with numbers: they are too large to indicate the age of the man. We can assume that they refer to the date of birth of his dear person: for example, one of his parents.
Among the man’s tattoos, one can find an image of a cross: although young people nowadays do not pay as much attention to religion and its meaning, the man in the picture is likely religious. There is no Jesus on the cross, so perhaps he does not belong to the Catholic Church. The chest also shows the head and wings of an angel, so you can be sure the man is religious. There is also a bracelet on the man’s wrist, the outlines of which are similar to the elements of religious frescoes.
We can assume the occupation based on the tattoos: the man is probably associated with artistic work. The man is quite handsome, so presumably, his photo will be favorably received on social network. The picture does not contain any specific message because it is a stock photo in the home environment. In addition, the man’s torso is bare, so he expects a typical positive reaction from his fans or followers.
Thus, the image analysis included two key steps: a description with elements of subtraction and speculation. The report established the general compositional aspects of the photograph: a young white man with many tattoos, looking to the camera’s left. Behind the man is a light background in shades of green and blue, creating a contrast due to skin color and bright shadows. The deduction elements consisted of assuming the camera’s location and the flash and specifying the background. It is probably part of the wall with the bed since the bedding is visible. At the critical appraisal stage, conclusions were made about the man’s personality: age, the significance of his tattoos, and his possible occupation.