I have referenced a site that offers a list of vocabulary which will be useful in discussing photographs. (
Strategies in Reading
Photographs, http://www.nuovo.com/southern-images/analyses.html ) I reproduce it here although the web sight provides accompanying thumbnail pictures to illustrate each term.
Words that can be used in describing photographs
abstract: an image that emphasizes formal elements (line, shape, etc.) rather than specific, recognizable objects.
the subject, topic or information captured in a photograph.
confronting a scene in a straight-forward manner, without using unusual angles or distortion.
photographs whose main purpose is to record a place, person(s) or event
expressive: concerned with communicating emotion.
simple rectilinear or curvilinear shapes found in geometry, such as circles, squares, triangles, etc.
reason(s) why the artist made a work of art.
an image that portrays the natural environment.
a point of view free from personal bias, which attempts to consider all available information with equal regard and fairness.
shapes based on natural objects such as trees, mountains, leaves, etc.
an image which shows recognizable objects.
the main object or person(s) in a photograph.
a unifying or dominant idea in one work or in a collection of works.
these terms describe elements you will see in many photographs along with questions that will help you to narrow down how that element is present in the photo you are looking at.
what areas appear clearest or sharpest in the photograph? What do not?
what areas of the photograph are most highlighted? Are there any shadows? Does the photograph allow you to guess the time of day? Is the light natural or artificial? Harsh or soft? Reflected or direct?
are there objects in the photograph that act as lines? Are they straight, curvy, thin, thick? Do the lines create direction in the photograph? Do they outline? Do the lines show movement or energy?
are there any objects, shapes, or lines which repeat and create a pattern?
do you see geometric or organic shapes? What are they?
is there depth to the photograph or does it seem shallow? What creates this appearance? Are there important negative spaces in addition to positive spaces? Is there depth created by spatial illusions?
if you could touch the surface of the photograph how would it feel? How do the objects in the picture look like they would feel?
is there a range of tones from
dark to light? Where is the darkest value? Where is the lightest?
Composition of the Photograph:
these words will help you to think about how the visual elements combine within a photograph to create a composition.
the vantage point from which the photograph was taken; generally used when discussing a photograph taken from an unusual or exaggerated used when discussing a photograph taken from an unusual or exaggerated vantage point.
the part of a scene or picture that is or seems to be toward the back.
the distribution of visual elements in a photograph. Symmetrical balance distributes visual elements evenly in an image. Asymmetrical balance is found when visual elements are not evenly distributed in an image.
the object(s) which appears most prominently and/or most clearly focused in a photograph.
the arrangement or structure of the formal elements that make up an image.
the outline of an object or shape.
strong visual differences between light and dark, varying textures, sizes, etc.
what the photographer has placed within the boundaries of the photograph.
actual physical surroundings or scenery whether real or artificial.
the place from which a photographer takes a photograph.