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GHHG-101 Global Health Humanities Intro (Paulin)

Fall 2020

Evaluating Images

Collage by Islahaddow, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons


It is important to critically evaluate images you use for research, study, and presentations. Images should be evaluated like any other source, such as journal articles or books, to determine their quality, reliability, and appropriateness.

Images should be evaluated on several levels. Visual analysis is an important step in evaluating an image and understanding its meaning. It is also important to consider textual information provided with the image, and the image source and original context of the image. The following questions can help guide your analysis and evaluation.

Content analysis  

  • What do you see?
  • What is the image about?
  • Are there people in the image? What are they doing? How are they presented?
  • Can the image be looked at different ways?
  • How effective is the image as a visual message?

Visual analysis 

  • How is the image composed? What is in the background, and what is in the foreground?
  • What are the most important visual elements in the image? How can you tell?
  • How is color used?
  • Can the image be looked at different ways?
  • What meanings are conveyed by design choices?

Contextual information

  • What information accompanies the image?
  • Does the text change how you see the image? How?
  • Is the textual information intended to be factual and inform, or is it intended to influence what and how you see?
  • What kind of context does the information provide? Does it answer the questions Where, How, Why, and For whom was the image made?

Image source

  • Where did you find the image?
  • What information does the source provide about the origins of the image?
  • Is the source reliable and trustworthy?
  • Was the image found in an image database, or was it being used in another context to convey meaning?

(Adapted from: https://guides.lib.uw.edu/c.php?g=344258&p=2318783)