Modern Photography/Interpretation

Interpretation is the process of making sense of an image in various ways.

The interpretation of photographs can be as enigmatic as any other field of visual arts, and is based not only on the photograph itself but the condition of the image, the origin of the image, its social, geographical and temporal context, its mode of presentation and accompanying information.

Images themselves can range from the pure abstract or highly generic through to globally unique and recognizable subjects, like the Eiffel Tower, to mundane manufactured items, starry skies and people. Obviously, different techniques must be used to assist in the interpretation of this broad range of photographs.

When interpreting an image we might frequently seek to:

  • Date the image: This may be achieved by a combination of subject (fashions, famous buildings, people or events), technology (print or negative size and quality, properties of the material, etc.).
  • Value the image: ...
  • Further our understanding of the image itself: ...
  • Further our understanding the artist, society or time from which the image came: ...

Types of interpretationEdit


Technical interpretation is the analysis of an image to determine fixed qualities such as age, equipment, technology, materials and processes used. Very often technical interpretation will be


An image-based or non-contextual interpretation is one that is primarily based upon the content of the image itself.



Further readingEdit