Language of the Image

I recently took another one of Poynter’s (free) News University courses and I must say this was one of the most enjoyable ones I’ve ever done. It’s called Language of the Image.  I enjoyed it because it inspired me to take more beautiful photos.  It made me realize that there is a lot that goes into making a photo memorable. It’s about being able to identify those elements of what makes a photograph stand out, what makes you pause as you’re scrolling through hundreds of photos or stop and gaze at a photo in a magazine.

The course was laid out in four different sections:

Photo types — There’s three types of photos:  informational, passive and active.

Single elements — There are fifteen different photographic elements that help an image tell a story.

  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

Multiple elements — Good photographers use more than just one element to enhance an image’s storytelling potential.(In this section you match up which elements are used in each of the particular photos).

Different approach — There are many different combinations of photographic elements that can make an image effective.  For instance, two photographers can go to the same event and take pictures of basically the same things, but the approach in which each one takes (i.e. quality of light, point of entry, rule of thirds, layering, etc) can make the difference between a photo you glance at and that doesn’t catch your eye, and one that catches your eye and keeps you there, makes you think, and provokes emotion.

I highly recommend taking this (short) course as it packed with valuable and easy tips and tricks. Knowing these qualities and considering them when taking photos can enhance the quality tremendously.  I was very surprised by the quality of the photographs.  I would love to learn more about photographs!



  1. mylonbunce Said:

    I enjoyed reading your post.Taking great photos is truly an art form. While I have not taken this NewsU course yet, I am looking forward to developing new photography skills. I especially liked your thought about two photographers in the same place. Depending on their approach, you can get two totally different views of the same place. The way you use different elements dictates the image.

  2. […] 6. Language of the Image by warrior4christ490 Sunday, February 26, 2012 […]

  3. […] time to reflect on what makes a “great” image. Last week, I came across a blog post about the Language of the Image, a free online Poynter’s News University class about the quintessential visual elements that are […]

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