21st Century Designer: What Images Mean.

21st Century Design

On Thursday for my 21st Century Design module, we had a workshop in which we had 10 images that we had to analyse with our teams (Team 2). The intention was to look beyond the obvious (what the image shows, black and white etc )and figure out the purpose of each of the images. I found this workshop very interesting and fun! I think that it made me look at photographs differently because from reading ‘Snoop’ it has taught me to examine photographs in much more detail and look beyond the obvious features.

For each of the photographs, we were asked to consider the setting, colours, clothing, expressions and props portrayed. After an hour of analysing, we discussed as a class of what conclusions we had all come to for each photograph. All the images we were given were adverts for different things, some were much more straight forward than others and a few were quite hard to work out so there was some surprises and a few laughs!

I learned a lot from this workshop! I learned that an advert doesn’t just sell or focus on their products but they also try to portray and sell a different lifestyle. For example, when we analysed a photograph for a Coca Cola advert, it showed a very happy family at a bowling alley having fun. Therefore, it suggested to me that it promoted a fun, energetic and a family orientated lifestyle as well as selling the product.

This was one of the photographs that we had to analyse and had chosen for our next task. As a team, we came up with several ideas:

  • Vintage photo – possibly from the 1950-60s
  • In a bowling alley
  • Noticed that the girl on the left was holding red cups.
  • Warm colours were used (reds, yellow, oranges…) conveyed a happy environment.
  • We thought that it was a family environment so suggested that the advert could have been something to do with that.
  • Promoting the ‘American Dream’.

This is the classic photograph that we had chose to use for our next photo analysing task. As a team, we had already analysed it so for this task, we had to ask 4 other students (excluding art students) about what they thought of the photograph and what they got from it. We didn’t mention that it was an advert until the very end. We had to see if they could guess themselves!

So this is what they got!

Person 1: It was a girl who studied IMD.

She thought that it looked happy, was in a bowling alley as she noticed they all had matching t-shirts. That it looked like it had been taken in the 1960s. She noticed that the girl on the left was holding something and guessed it was some sort of coffee advertisement or it advertised the bowling alley. She said it showed a family and fun environment.

Person 2: Male American exchange student studying Physics, English and Chemistry.

He thought that it showed a really fun environment as he commented on the excitement that each member of the family had on their faces. He also thought it also may have been a campaign for propaganda. he thought that it looked staged and fake, this was quite interesting because it hadn’t been mentioned in the workshop from any of the teams! Also, the propaganda campaign thought was quite interesting as well. He noticed that it may have been in the 1950s.

Person 3: Female American Exchange student studying Forensics.

This student was with the previous student so they shared a lot of the same ideas and she thought it had elements of being a propaganda campaign. She also thought it was set around the 1950s and could have also been advertising a bowling alley.

Person 4: Male member of staff from the ISE Gym.

This person gave the most information about the photograph. He noticed that the girl on the left was holding red cups so thought it was some sort of refreshment advert. He mentioned that the photograph was quite blurry so suggested it could have been an older advert. He guessed it was taken or set around the 1950s. He said a lot that the family looked very happy and enthusiastic especially, the boy who jumped in the air! He said that it conveyed a mood of happiness. He was pretty dead on about the photograph and when we told him that it was for Coca Cola, he was only bit surprised as he had guessed it was a refreshments advert.

This was a really fun workshop and I feel that I have learned a lot! It is quite surprising to what I learned from just observing a photograph much more closely. I think if I had looked at it quite briefly, I would have never have guessed it was for an advert! So this experience was quite enjoyable!


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