Visual Literacy is a Thing? – Reflection

Throughout the week I have been experimenting with and implementing the techniques that I have learned to use in photography. Although, after reading and watching about what Visual Literacy is and learning the definition of the concept, I feel that photos are more than just taking a photo and moving on.

“The ability to recognize and understand ideas conveyed through visible actions or images (such as pictures).” –Merriam-Webster Dictionary

As mentioned in the Toledo Museum of Art’s video about what visual literacy is, “it is an exciting time to be alive.” We are living in a digital image revolution concurring with the fact that we take in “90% of our information” with our eyes. One idea that I took away from the video was the importance of how we need to take our time when looking at things to become more visually literate. Therefore, once we can take in what we are viewing, we can start the process of understanding what we are seeing and develop a meaningful response. With that being said, the video changed my perspective of how we learn visually and the significance of having the ability to see an image that helps us acknowledge its meaning. Additionally, I thought of the way I took photos and began to ponder why I take them. The right use of photos is meant to tell a story and I want to tell a story with mine which is why–after watching the video–I am going to take my time when I am taking photos in order to create a deeper message within them.

After viewing David Griffins “How Photography Connects Us” I gained a deeper insight into how photos can create a story, and one that educates people on problems that are going on in the world. When listening about the story of how the elephants in Chad are hunted and killed for their ivory tusks, I was able to see the story unfold in the photographs without any words being attached to them. Although Griffin was narrating what was going on in them, I feel that because the photos are so powerful, I could have seen them in a sequence and could have figured out what was going on by just looking at the pictures. With that being said, I began to reflect on my own experience of taking pictures and started to wonder if I am telling a story with my photographs. Of course, I am not a professional photographer, but his talk inspired me to want to be able to start incorporating complex thinking into the photos I was taking to transfer a story to someone who was viewing them.

I thoroughly enjoyed the article discussing the story behind the “Migrant Mother” photograph. I had learned about this photograph and what it represented from countless history classes, but reading about the photographer allowed me into a different perspective about photography. As mentioned in the previous paragraphs, photos tell a story and what Dorthea Lange was able to convey with her photo is “capture the harrowing realities of the Great Depression not merely as an economic phenomenon but as a human tragedy.”

What stuck out to me about the way that Lange took her photos was that she was able to be in the moment which refers back to the Toledo Museum of Art’s video and David duChemin’s tips. Therefore, with Lange being able to master this skill, she was able to tell a story with her photos and create a narrative for the people that were affected by the tragedy. Additionally, because of Lange’s photos, the federal government sent immense amounts of food to the migrants. What I mainly took away from this article was the importance of being able to convey a message in your photos and how that message gets across to people.

After learning about Visual Literacy and how it incorporates itself into digital storytelling, I am looking forward to taking these methods and apply them to the photos that I take in the future. I am hoping that I will be able to convey a story by using photographs that aid my audience to understanding the meaning or message that I am conveying.

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