Category Archives: Exercises part 4 (reading photographs)

Exercise: advertisement image deconstruction (page 101)

Advertising image deconstruction

The exercise is to ‘rip out an advertising image from a newspaper supplement and circle and write on as many parts of the image as you can. Comment on what it is, what it says about the product, and why you think its there’.

Firstly, thank you to Bannatyne Health Club for letting me take away all their end of day newspaper supplements from the café bar. I looked through several supplements to try to find an image that I thought may be suitable for this brief and tore out eight as a ‘long list’. Then I tried to narrow it down and below are the three that caught my attention the most.

Advert one

This image has only one main colour; orange. The term ‘fresh pressed’ leads us to think of fresh orange juice as does the narrative ‘daily Booster with pure vitamin C’ as we all relate oranges with vitamin C.  The cloud of orange droplets serve to enhance the natural fruit vibe of the advertisement. We are encouraged to see the product as natural …. and  classy. The white and silver packaging helps to make the product look expensive. These are all desirable traits in a luxury product – natural and expensive. The word ‘Clinique’ is repeated SIX times to ensure that we relate the experience to the ‘name’. A white background is fresh; the word ‘maximum’ is shown twice, along with other positive wording such as ‘potency’, ‘smart’ and ‘full blast’.

Advert two

This image is multi coloured, bright and vibrant and portrays fresh vegetables and fruit; always a link to healthy living and goodness. The variety of natural products displayed gives a sense of nutrition and naturalness; the name ‘Lurpak’ is therefore associated with freshness and nature. ‘Lurpak’ is situated right in the centre of the image, surrounded by all the natural products as though it is central to the concept. Really, there is  no actual link between the product and all the fresh food. There are no such ingredients in the product and the product isn’t generally used with fresh fruit and vegetables either. The only point of the fruits etc. is to imply the naturalness and healthiness of the product.


Advert three

This advertisement for perfume is striking. There is a link to socialising and wealth  (the bottle looks like expensive alcohol) and to nature ( fresh exotic fruit). The image is also gender neutral in that it is not overly feminine nor overly masculine. I don’t know from this advert whether ‘Blood Oranges’ is a women’s perfume or a man’s. I therefore have to assume that it is being marketed as a gender neutral fragrance. Much of the image is black. Much of the rest is gold. Both these colours are representative of luxury and opulence and richness. The reference to London implies style, culture, fashion and opportunity and by association, this perfume advert portrays a ‘desirable’ lifestyle.


Exercise: Elliott Erwitt (page 98)

Look at Erwitt’s image. Write some notes about how the subject matter is placed within the frame. How has Erwitt structured this image? What do you think the image is saying? How does the structure contribute to this meaning?



Elliott Erwitt, New York, 1974 (Johnson, 2018)

The photograph is taken from a very low viewpoint, as though we are the same height as the little dog and looking into his eyes. We are drawn to the little dog which is situated in line with the rule of thirds, and to his face and eyes particularly and then we see that he is wearing clothes which makes the image amusing. We then realise that the pair of legs on the left belongs to a much bigger dog and not to a person. Erwitt has deliberately cropped out the dog’s remaining two back legs to give the impression of a biped. This adds further to the amusing image. The little dog is interesting to look at, there is a lot to keep the viewers’ attention and the eye repeatedly returns to him; the shape of his ears, his hat and coat and the overall stance and expression is much more visually complex  and appealing than the other two subjects. The lady’s boots are plain, as is her coat and the big dog’s legs are unremarkable. The background is blurred so does not compete with the dog for our attention. The image is giving priority to this little dog, giving him a character and making him the focus despite his diminutive presence.


Johnson, K. (2018). Elliott Erwitt’s Photographs – Review. [online] Available at: [Accessed 31 Jan. 2018].