Analyzing Visuals

When analyzing visuals for a rhetorical effect, consider the following areas:

Rhetorical situation:

  • Who is the audience and what is the purpose behind the visual and the creator?

  • Is the audience left leaning (liberal) or right leaning (conservative)?

  • How does the media type influence the viewer’s interpretation?

  • Does the specific media creator influence the way the viewer sees the image?

  • The XXX, an online and print newspaper, featured …. The XXX, an online and print newspaper, geared toward a ____ audience….


  • What is emphasized? Is there a focal point that draws your eyes in?

  • Is there a balance or harmonious relationship or a clear juxtaposition of contrasting images for an effect?

  • How is the composition of the image structured?

  • Where are the images organized such as in the foreground, in the background, to the left, to the center, to the right, etc.?

  • Is there an interesting perspective or camera angle? Is there a clear focal point?

  • Are some images blurred while others are in sharper focus?

  • Stems: The image of _____ is emphasized as a central focal point…. The creator illustrates harmony and balance through ….. The creator shows a contrasting image of _____ in order to _____. The perspective suggests that _______.

  • Do you need help describing the camera angles? Check out

Lighting & Color:

  • What colors and lighting do you see?

  • Do the colors or lighting suggest a specific connotation or even a symbolic idea?

  • Do the colors suggest an attitude or tone of the creator?

  • Do the warm colors connote warmth for instance?

  • The ___ colors of the ___ signify ____. The viewer can infer that the colors connote a feeling of _____ The colors symbolize _____


  • Does the creator evoke emotions in the reader with positive or negative feelings?

  • Does the creator evoke logic in the viewer through making a comparison or showing an effect to something?

  • Does the creator create credibility about the topic through the images (ethos)?

  • Sentence stems: The creator evokes a feeling of _____ through _____. The creator appeals to the viewer’s sense of logic through _____. The creator establishes credibility and trust through ______.


  • Is there a specific message that is being conveyed about humanity, society, or culture? What details construct an argument for the viewer?

  • Are certain people represented in a certain way to convey a message? Are certain objects portrayed in a certain way to convey a message?

  • How does this image relate to the global issue that you selected?

  • Sentence Stems: The photograph portrays the message that ______. The visual suggests that _______.


  • Overall, what was effective about the image in conveying the argument? End your analysis with your conclusions.

  • The creator effectively conveys a message of _____ through ____, _____, and ______.