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Highline College Library - the building is closed until further notice, but staff are working remotely to support you. No services after 5pm on Wednesday, Nov. 25, through Saturday, Nov. 28, during Thanksgiving week. See our Updates and Resources page >

Visual Literacy: Read Images

This guide will help you to find, read, cite, edit and present images.

Try reading these images...


By Nick Ut from The Associated Press, June 8, 1972                                   The Situation Room by The White House, May 1, 2011


Sudan Famine UN food camp by Kevin Carter. 1994                                                   Boys wave as they ride in the trunk of a car in Baghdad, Iraq by Mario Tama/Getty Images,  February 19, 2004.        

How do I "read" an image?


Who or what do you see?

What is/are the subject(s) of the picture?

What is happening in the photograph?

Describe what you see so clearly that a person who has not seen the picture can visualize it.


What jumps out at you about the appearance of the person(s)?          

What is the person(s) wearing? What style of clothing (formal, casual, regional, etc.)?

What images surround the person (or object) that is the focus of the photograph?


When was this photograph taken?

Where was this photograph taken?


Is there a caption or title?

Anything written with or within the image or other elements that might connect the image to a time and place?



Why was the image taken? For whom?

Is the images connected to an event or activity?

Is there a theme or message being represented?

Does the photograph tell a story? Is it biased?


What does the photographer want the viewer to think?

What emotions or feelings are being depicted?

What emotions or feelings does the image evoke in you personally?


Look at how the image is composed.

Color, form, placement, proportion, resolution, cropped, etc.

Is there significance to these elements?

How do they affect the photograph's message?


Where did you find the image?

Who owns the image?

Does the source provide any context or meaning regarding your image?

Can you verify the image with other sources to help assess the reliability and accuracy of the image?

Image Reverse Look Up

Find the owner of a digital image on the Web by using the image itself!

Ask a Librarian

Ask a Librarian!

We're here to help with library and research questions! 

Highline College librarians are available to help you via Chat and Email during the following hours during the campus closure:

Thanksgiving Week:
Monday, Tuesday (11/23-24): 9am-7pm
Wednesday (11/25): 9am-5pm
Thursday, Friday, Saturday (11/26-28): closed/no services
Sunday (11/29): 11am-7pm

Fall Quarter
Monday - Thursday: 9am-7pm
Friday: 9am-5pm
Sunday: 11am-7pm

If you need help from a librarian when a Highline Librarian isn't available, use the 24/7 chat service.

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