Meaningful messages that people are able to read and understand are not only fashioned to turn up from written texts, but also from images. Images tell a story, from the scene depicted in the image, the choice of colors used, the gestures or movements of people, facial reactions, all contribute to the purpose of images to communicate without incorporating letters or words in it. An individual’s capacity to interpret and draw meaning from images is a significant skill that plays a role in the understanding of the messages that images are intended to communicate.
The basics of interpreting images begin with the identification of its elements through observation and deeper analysis and understanding. (Thibault & Walbert) Let us take for instance the image displayed in a gallery by an unknown author. The heading for the image is “Those Were the Days. ” From the heading alone, one can already make out that the image is significantly related to the past. The picture is in black and white, illustrating the salience of an imagery of a woman and man in high spirits walking down a side street with a man.
The most striking image about the picture is the face of the woman. Clearly, it is the focal point of the image, rousing the interest of the viewers to look deeper into what story the picture is trying to tell. Her sunny face, representing a vivid imagery, will draw individuals to look at the picture. The primary subject, identified as the woman, is the focal point in the image because it is her face that can bee seen in it, however, the woman is not facing the viewer of the image. The image then is not intended to establish an interpersonal connection with the viewer.
Going back to the analysis of the image, although the view that can be seen from the side of the man’s face shows that he is smiling too, the woman still remains as the center of the image. Perhaps, what the image is trying to say is that during that particular moment, both the man and the woman were happy, as they were together. The emphasis is particularly in the feelings and emotions of the woman while he was with the man. Their expressive body language shows they have an intimate relationship with one another. The feeling of ease and comfort between the two is felt by how the woman looks at him and how they touch each other.
The woman was facing the man as they were walking and laughing. The man’s left hand was on the woman’s right hip. It was an intimate moment between the two. The secondary focal point in the image is the perceived interaction between the man and the woman. Everything in the background is out of focus, except for the man and the woman, making them central subjects of the image. Both of them facing each other and looking at each other’s face, with their arms extended forward without any hint of hesitations; depict a personal relationship enclosed within just the two of them.
Moreover, looking at the hand gestures of the two, you could make out that they were probably dancing. The position of the other hand is not seen, but by looking at the right hand of the woman, it follows that of a woman’s hand when waltzing with another man. The image preserves the carefree and happy emotions both subjects are feeling at that time while they were together. The color of the picture has a somber hue about it as it is in black and white, and it makes people think that this picture happened in the past. Adding colors would make the image vivid and lively, however, it was presented otherwise.
There is a sense of irony in it, such that it was a happy moment but it was demonstrated in a gloomy sense with it being black and white. The heading of the picture, which is “Those Were the Days”, affirms the melancholy impression that the image is trying to portray. The heading of the picture alone sums up what the picture is trying to say. “Those were the days,” means it happened in the past. Things have probably taken a different turn and the image as seen in the picture, is different from what is happening at present. The first thing that came into my mind is that probably they are not together anymore.
Deeper analysis and understanding of the image takes me back to the focus of the image, which is the happiness of the woman. Perhaps, what the heading is trying to say is that the happiness of the woman is now only a part of the man’s memory. This reveals that the one who put the heading for the picture is the man. This is backed up by the linguistic text found at the bottom of the image, which reads, “Those were the days. There was that afternoon, when things were still good between us, and she held my hands, and we were so happy. It did happen. She did love me.
Look see for yourself! ” The text at the bottom of the image is intended for those who are inquisitive enough to look deeper into the story of the image, as it is written in small handwritten texts. It was not written boldly nor in large letters that may easily capture the attention of the viewers. Judging from the declarations in the text, the author of it is the same man in the image. He finds himself remembering that afternoon as he said “those were the days” and his purpose for writing the text was to tell the viewers how his happy memories was completely shattered.
This is supported by the restatement of the author of the sentence, “those were the days,” in the heading and the text below the image. The author wishes to emphasize on the idea of the past. Moreover, presenting a handwritten text depicts the statement as something personal and heartfelt, as it was written by the author himself. Perhaps, the picture reminded him of the times when they were still romantically involved, and the image reminded him of that one afternoon when they were happy. The man cherished how the woman loved him, how she looked at him, and how she held his hand.
At one point, you would think that maybe he misses the woman, because of how esteemed he is in his assertion at the end of the statement. This may mean he still loves the woman; however, they have to end their romantic relationship because the love that the woman felt for him has died out. Moreover, the moment that he spent together with the woman was special to him. It was special enough for him to include it in a gallery, and special enough for him to put those intriguing statements below the image. The image and the declarations written below it are texts, simply because they express meaning.
The image is not a literal text in itself. It is not written in a formation of letters or words, which make up sentences, but it does convey meaning. The analysis of the image aforementioned, such as the focus of the image, the body language, and even the image being in black in what are symbols that hold meaning for viewers to understand the image. The language written below it is a text, because it also conveys meaning. It is an added meaning to the image. For instance, the symbolism in the image is only limited to that particular moment, but reading the language written below it, speaks more of what happened after that.
The picture is just a thing of the past, and the text speaks of what happened after that. Together, the image and the language written below it fuses together to tell a story. Although lacking in details, it provides a brief overview of what happened to the man and woman in the image who were happy during that time. Analyzing the linguistic text technically conveys the historical theme underlying it. The verbs were expressed in the past tense with the words, “were,” “was,” “held,” and “did. ” These words, in the past tense form, signify that the image was a thing of the past.
Obviously, the image was taken in the past, but the thing is that the emotions that were captured within the picture was the thing of the past. The text was also explicit, in that it was straight to the point. The man shared how happy they were that afternoon, and that just proved the woman did actually love her. It was straight to the point, because it directly said, between the statements, that the woman did not love her anymore. The man also expressed strong emotions, as he was trying to assert the strong emotions that the woman felt for him.
The man wrote, “Look see for yourself! ” Perhaps, the man was also trying to convince himself that there was love during the times that they were together. In all relationships, when it ends, people try to think about their past relationship and contemplate whether they really loved each other. Although they moved on and went their separate ways, the man still holds on to the idea that something special happened between them; and although it was only in the past, the man was happy enough to reveal that the thing between them was real love.
Moreover, what the man is trying to say is that the relationship they had in the past had meaning to them. The term “love” was used to describe what they had in their relationship. It was not imagined, it happened. The context of the term love in the sentence “She did love me” expresses the significant meaning of it. The man obviously loved her, and as he was looking at the picture, he knew the woman also did love her.
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