Primary Source Literacy at USC Libraries & Beyond

Conducting a Visual Analysis

What is a Visual Analysis?

A visual analysis is a method of reading and interpreting images. It helps understand hidden ideologies and meanings by relating the artwork or visual material to relevant ideas, narratives, or experiences. Many different writing styles can be used to write visual analyses.

Why conduct a Visual Analysis?

Visual analyses promote the employment and development of critical thinking skills. The analysis of different elements of an artwork or visual material allows for a better understanding of its context and meaning. It also encourages the viewer to comprehend the artwork or visual material as a medium for wider social and cultural meaning, and enables the viewer to apply new understanding and knowledge to their own work. 

Visual Analysis of Artworks and other Visual Materials


Watch the two YouTube videos below to learn about analyzing images and performing a visual analysis.

Sources & further reading:

Visual Analysis 101
Visual Analysis of a Photograph
National Archives. Analyze a Photograph

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