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More Than A Pretty Picture: Visual Literacy: Tips For Selecting Materials

This guide will enable an individual to effectively find, interpret, evaluate, use, and create images and visual media.

What To Think About


Define Images Needed

This is where one must start the process… think about these things:

  • Who is my audience ?
  • What do I need the moving or still image for ?
  • Where will this image be sourced?
  • When was the image created & Why does that matter ?
  • How do I want the image to affect my audience?


Find Images: 

Finding images that will benefit your needs will now be an easier process.  Some things to consider…

  • How can you use limiters to get as specific as possible in the various search engines and platforms?
  • Grouping source types that are similar will be helpful. It will give you options.
  • Using key terms during the search process. You may stumble upon material unknown and expansive.
  • Some physical materials through archives or personal items may add value to images and overall project.

There are various platforms and websites that offer a plethora of still and moving image sources that are highlighted below.


Evaluate Images:

When you have a solid collection of images that you believe will benefit your work, you must take the time asses if they are the best option.

  • Is it truly purposeful to your work?
  • Looking at the image, what signs or symbols are they using to convey a message?
  • Are you looking at the original (primary) source of your image?
  • How is the artist using their work to manipulate the artist.?
  • What bias may be present?
  • Is it reliable?



Interpret & Analyze Images:

One of the most crucial steps in this process is understanding the meaning behind the material chosen.

  • Look for sense, content, physical details that stands out. The aesthetic.
  • Read text that may be associated with the piece. It will add context that may also be analyzed.
  • Has the image been altered? By whom? Is the alteration important? Why or why not?
  • Is there literature in the scholarship about the image chosen?
  • Can this image be used as a point of discussion?


Great Resources for Still and Moving Images

Creative Commons

Creative Commons is an American non-profit organization devoted to expanding the range of creative works available for others to build upon legally and to share. The organization has released several copyright-licenses, known as Creative Commons licenses, free of charge to the public

Wikimedia Commons

Wikimedia Commons is an online repository of free-use images, sounds, other media and JSON files. It is a project of the Wikimedia Foundation. As of Octover 7, 2918 there are over 50 million media files on the site


Flickr is an image hosting service and video hosting service. There are limiters that only search free images.  Over 3.5 million new images are uploaded daily.


Unsplash is a website dedicated to sharing stock photography under the Unsplash license. The website claims over 110,000 contributing photographers and generates more than 9 billion photo impressions per month on their growing library of over 810,000 photos

Pixabay is an international website for sharing photos, illustrations, vector graphics, and film footage under a proprietary license. As of November 2017, Pixabay offers over 1,188,454 free photos, illustrations, and vectors and videos.

Canva Photos

Canva is a graphic-design tool website, founded in 2012. It uses a drag-and-drop format and provides access to over a million photographs, graphics, and fonts. It is used by non-designers as well as professionals. The tools can be used for both web and print media design and graphics.


Shutterstock is an American stock photographystock footagestock music, and editing tools provider. It maintains a library of around 200 million royalty-free stock photos,  vector graphics, and illustrations, with around 10 million video clips and music tracks available for licensing. 


iStock is an online royalty free, international micro stock photography provider. The firm offers millions of photosillustrationsclip artvideos and audio tracks. Images cost between 1 and 3 credits, with the price of credits ranging from $10.00 to $0.22 depending on volume purchased and subscription plan. Artists, designers and photographers worldwide contribute their work to iStock collections in return for royalties. Nearly half a million new photosillustrationsvideos and audio files, are added each month.



You Have Amazing Options! Create or Enhance Images With These Platforms

Power Point : Video Tutorial Photo Shop : Video Tutorial
BeFunky : Video Tutorial PixTeller: Video Tutorial
Gravit Designer : Video Tutorial Vectr : Video Tutorial
Canva: Video Tutorial Pixlr: Video Tutorial
Gimp: Video Tutorial Infogram: Video Tutorial
Krita: Video Tutorial TigerWare Click Me!


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