NewsU: Language of the Image

Types of Photos:

  • Informational – a little more than a visual record of a person, place, or event. Offers nothing more than identification value and has no redeeming story-telling qualities.
  • Passive – show people whose essential purpose is to have their photo taken for publication. It is all that is possible when the event that makes up the action of the story is no longer taking place. It is a legitimate and useful role for passive photography.
  • Active – show real people involved in real events in real time. It allows photographers to produce images that tell readers about their community and the world in a way that informs, inspires and makes them happy, sad or concerned.


  1. Graphic
  2. Quality of light
  3. Emotion
  4. Juxtaposition
  5. Mood
  6. Sense of place
  7. Point of entry
  8. Impact
  9. Rule of thirds
  10. Perspective
  11. Surprise
  12. Layering
  13. Moment
  14. Personality portrait

–          Some photos can contain multiple elements as well

I learned that there are more elements present in most photographs than I ever realized. When considering all 14 elements, it proves to be difficult to determine which are present and which are not. It was somewhat confusing when “testing my vocabulary” to match which elements were present in each photograph; some I got instantly and some I had no clue.

I was surprised to see that most of the example pictures were of sports (the Olympics) and war. Those are two very powerful elements of many people’s lives and in turn have a high impact in photography and journalism.

I would have liked to see more basic examples of each of these elements to educate myself on a more elementary level before jumping right in to pictures containing five and six elements. I would like to have a chance to test myself a little more on a wider range of photos.


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Filed under PR Connections, PRCA 3330

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