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Notes for the educator

Analysing photographs


Why do you think the photographer took this photograph? It is unlikely that you will know who took the photograph or why it was taken, but this exercise requires the learners to analyse images in order to identify what they think the photographer is trying to say through this visual medium.


How does the photograph make you feel? If learners find it hard to put their feelings into words, try giving them a sheet of expressive faces labelled with a range of emotions (e.g. angry, indignant, dismayed, peaceful, overjoyed, etc) to give them some ideas. Encourage learners to describe as well as identify their feelings.


What techniques did the photographer use to create visual / emotional impact? The choice of subject, design (e.g. colour, proximity, contrast, composition) and camera techniques (e.g. wide angle, close-up, camera angle) all contribute to the overall impact of the image.


What does the photograph tell you about: People living together (our society and culture): Does the picture celebrate or critique some aspect of society or culture? Does it draw attention to social issues (e.g. health, shelter, education, safety)? Does it present a hopeful or negative picture?

  • People and nature (our environment and ecology):

Does the picture represent a healthy, sustainable environment, or not? Is the relationship between people and nature

one of respect or neglect, conservation or exploitation? How do you think the environment impacts on the people?

  • People and money (our economy): Does the photograph reflect a fair, just and sustainable economic system? Are people’s needs being met or is there evidence of poverty, unemployment, greed or wasteful consumption?

  • People and power (our political system):

Does the picture indicate that powerful people are making wise decisions, or that the decision-makers are failing in their duty to provide citizens with a safe, healthy, fair society / environment?


Has this activity challenged any of your points of view? Explain: Different learners may interpret the picture(s) differently, as a result of their particular life experiences or the viewpoint

from which they chose to analyse the picture.

Sharing these different perspectives may challenge the preconceptions of members of the group. The sharing of perspectives should be sensitively and respectfully managed in order to acknowledge the diversity of opinions in the group. However, it is also important to note that some points of view represent socially just and ecologically sustainable choices, while others may contribute to social and ecological problems.


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