How do you read images?

Depending on the language you’re reading, there are set rules on how to read words. You must pronounce words this way and have this accent. You have to read it in the correct way. There’s no deviating from those set rules when it comes to reading words. But does this apply to reading images? Chances are, the answer is going to be no. Why? There are no set rules on how to read images. The interpretation is up to the one taking in the image. This is why there’s so much debate on art and what it is. But this isn’t about what is art. Look below and you’ll see an image.

First of all, what is present in the image? There is an old man sitting down in a chair and is fishing inside his own home. He’s in a small room, full of furniture and he has quite the collection of photos on his wall. These are things that would be common in your average household. But aside from what is present in the image, there is also the placement of furniture, the art style and colours used. But what does all of this mean? Taking a look at the picture, the man looks like he’s living in solitude. Away from society, hence the grumpy expression on his face. The placement of the furniture conveys that this room is all he has. There is no other room that we’re not being shown. This is it. Notice how in that one room there is a fridge, kitchen, dining table, bed, TV and closet. Having all of those in one room tells us that.

Another thing to note, the art style. Everything is drawn so roughly and the colours themselves are very bland. However the sweater the old man is wearing is a bright red, contrasting everything else around him. This shows us that he is the salient feature in this still. This tells us as the viewer, to look at the old man, this image is about him. Another effect this art style has is that this tells us, it isn’t a happy time for the old man. This colour scheme, giving us the sense of loneliness, the old man’s grumpy expression. It all screams negativity.

Did you notice all of that? Yes? No? Now, do you agree with all the statements made about this picture? The words that have been used to explain the effects are “This conveys” or “This shows” as if to say that’s the definite answer on how to read the image. The fact of the matter is, it’s just one way of perceiving it. It’s just one way of how a person can look at the image. Everything mentioned may not apply to you as the reader. You may think otherwise and that’s perfectly fine. It is possible to read this image in a completely different way. As mentioned earlier there are no rules on how to read an image. Interpretation is entirely dependent on the knowledge and experiences of the viewer as some things may mean something completely different in one person’s mind compared to another. How do you read this image?


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