Reading Images: 10/1/13


Kress and Leeuwen discuss the importance of framing and placement withing an image. Text and photography and where they balance with each other can affect the meaning of an image or an advertisement.

Both authors come up with three interrelated systems that ultimately affect the representational and interactive meaning of an image.

  1. Informational Value- the placement of elements (pictures and text). Certain text and pictures are associated with another element and that can possibly create a meaning within the image.
  2. Salience- the elements themselves They are made to attract the viewer’s attention.
  3. Framing- Presence or absence of framing devices.

These concepts do not just apply to single images but they can also apply to a large collection of text, symbols, images.

Kress and Leeuwen continue on to discuss the importance of left vs. right and up vs. down in the placement of elements within an image.

In the western world, we read images and text from left to right from top to bottom. Therefore, in a lot of situations, images follow the same guidelines to effectively garner our attention and interest.

Top vs. Bottom

Many advertisers use a vertical axis when designing their ads and websites to distribute crucial information about their product. (I.E. Sony)

For example, a company like Sony, who sells electronics, will grab a viewers interest with bold text saying how great the product it. Then, down towards the bottom of the image, a picture will be displayed to show the actual product to the potential customers.

An easy way to remember this is “Ideal vs. Real”. The text is the ideal and the photograph displays what is real.


Salience basically ranks the information given within a single image. What is on the top is more important than what is on the bottom while what is on the left is seen before what is seen on the right.


Framing has a direct impact on how the viewer reads an image. If the image is framed around a photograph, that will be the focal point  of the image for the viewer.

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