What is Visual Communication?

What is Visual Communication?

Image communication today has a great influence on all of us, whether we like it or not. We are fed with pictures all the time no matter where we look. So take a look at your photos and think about what your photos say about you and your company’s brand?

How do you show up online? Does the image you show online match you as a person in real life when I meet you?

Profilbild på Västerås fotografen Helen Shippey
This is my LinkedIn profile picture. I want the image to portray that I am easily accessible and have easy to laugh, I am holding my camera to convey what I work with, the image is photographed by my friend Therese Eriksson who works as a filmmaker.

Image Analysis

When talking about image analysis, it's about taking the time to look at the image and think about what it is you see. You will discover more details and contexts that you do not register when looking at the image more fleetingly. We use images to communicate with other people just like the spoken or written word. Like the slightly outdated expression "A picture says more than 1,000 words" and it's a bit like that. You can communicate a lot with one image.


Visual communication

I have just finished a course at Örebro University called Visual Communication and it is about analyzing and understanding how several different visual functions and forms communicate. We investigated how different communicative elements worked to communicate a message in different specific areas such as attitudes, values, target groups and how it affects different customer segments, etc.

I thought it was super interesting because that's exactly what I do all day, but I have not put such a 'fancy' word as visual communication on it before, but I take good pictures! But I communicate a good photograph to whoever looks at it!

When I hold my photography courses, this is exactly what I communicate with my participants. Do not take a picture at once, but first think about what you want in the picture and what you do not want in the picture. Be clear about why you are taking the picture and then take the picture if you feel it fits. I could use the University's language and say to think of the semiotic multimodal elements that the viewer sees in your image to bring out the whole in it. But I will still choose to speak a language, more for me at least, easy to understand so I do not speak above myself or others. We do not want either of us to not understand what the other means and miss the whole point of the image we want to create together.

The course made me open my eyes to how important it is with Visual Communication today. I usually say in my photography courses that some people naturally have a reat visual vision, but it is also possible to learn and train it. So for some it is supernatural that everything has a context in the image and what angle you choose to take the image at for others its not as natural.

Interpret images

How we interpret images varies a bit from person to person, it depends a lot on our previous experiences how we interpret an image. So image interpretation is very individual depending on the viewer's social, ethnic and cultural experiences.

The French philosopher Roland Barthes, believed that our individual associations are not subjective but common ideas of different cultures. You can thus draw general conclusions based on your own associations when analyzing images and photographs.

Helen-Shippey företagsfotograf västerås

Analysis Model

Reflection and knowledge are required to understand images. The images you see in your everyday life you may not reflect much on its content and purpose. To learn to understand the image and the sender's purpose, you need both training and some knowledge of how to analyze images. Below is an example of an analysis model that you can use to learn to interpret images and photographs in a more detailed way. I use myself a lot of this in my daily photography as it is a natural step in how I photograph and compose my corporate photos for my clients.

-What does this picture say? Does it have the right message?

An image analysis model

Choose an image from your own image feed that meets you every day. It can be an advertising image from a magazine or a newspaper or an image from a report. Then try to analyze the image according to the model below. This model describes the image based on four different levels.

Actual meaning

You describe exactly what you see in the picture and how it is structured in terms of composition. That is, you try to accurately and objectively describe what you see. Try not to include any subjective interpretations, but only describe what is really there. (This can be difficult because it is so easy to add your own experiences when interpreting an image, but it is good not to do it because your experience is different from others, so there can be very different interpretations in the same image - nothing is obvious!)

Expression Meaning 

Here the feelings and mood in the picture are described. What emotions are evoked in you when you look at the picture? Describe what the image spontaneously evokes in you both positively and negatively and what it is in the image that makes you feel that way.

Iconographic meaning

Symbols and symbolism are described in the picture. For example, things that symbolize power, status and wealth can be included. Look at how people are portrayed. Are there differences in gender, class and ethnicity?

Inner Meaning

Describe the purpose of the image. Try to figure out what purpose the image was created for. Attempt to influence? Selling something? Who is the picture aimed at? How can you imagine the viewer perceiving the image?

Tjej i en Industri miljö i Eskilstuna
Helen Shippey in action.

Image Analysis Questions

  • What kind of image is that? Fashion, landscape, documentary, sports, advertising, portraits or art? 
  • What does the image represent?
  • How is the image structured? Can you divide the photo into foreground and background? 
  • Does the image have a main motif? If so, which one?
  • What people or objects are in the picture? What do they look like?
  • How are people dressed? What do their gestures and expressions say? Where in the picture are they located?
  • Do they have contact with each other, someone outside the picture or the viewer?

Is there any part of the image that attracts your attention? Something that the gaze keeps returning to?

  • What colors are in the image? Which colors dominate?
  • What mood does the light send out?
  • What message does the image have?
  • What role does the image composition play in the message? 
  • Who is the image aimed at? Which target group?
  • Are there any symbols in the image? What do they symbolize?
Fotograf in action

What do your own photos say?

These are the kind of questions I think about when I capture photographs for you.

Therefore, we need to discuss and talk a little before hand so I get a good idea of ​​who you and your company are, so that I create the right image for you. Your image should communicate what you stand for and your company's values.

The picture needs to be taken in the right place in the right environment and communicate the right body language. It may sound like a lot is going into one and the same image, but think for yourself how you look at images. You judge a picture in 3 seconds if you like or dislike the person / company and if you should read on or not. So that you have the right image communication is super important for you and your business.

I have posted some pictures of myself here so feel free to look and see what you think of me. Then feel free to tell me in the comments how you interpret my pictures.

I have free consultations with all my clients before a photo shoot, so feel free to contact me if you feel you need to change / update / replace some of your photos. I'll be happy to help you with that.

/ Helen Shippey

Photographer in Västerås!

Modeplåtning av kvinna i Dubai

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Företagsfotograf Helen Shippey

About me

My name is Helen and I love to create and happily share what I create with my cameras / drones.

Join me on my photography assignments.

You can call me Shippey, my friends does!


Has; Apprentice Letter in Photography