Images are produced, used and distributed on an enormous scale. However, the skills of understanding, interpreting and using images as well as thinking and learning in terms of images are taken for granted, and thus, they are not sufficiently taught and developed, especially in higher education. The need for introducing visual literacy into the curriculum was identified in late 1960s, but no concrete guidelines have followed. This study proposes to apply interpretation of journalistic photographs as an instrument of visual literacy education. The main focus is on the image interpretation process and the kinds of meanings viewers apply to a photograph in the interpretation process. In each of the four articles included in this study, a model or approach to photography interpretation is proposed.
“A conceptualization of visual proficiency is offered. A survey is described which asked college students (N=358) to identify five photographs, five symbols, and five paintings that are generally recognized to be “famous”. About 27% of all respondents claimed to recognize all the photographs, 23% recognized all the symbols, and 3% recognized all the paintings. About 14% correctly identified all the photographs, 4% correctly identified all the symbols and only 1% correctly identified all the paintings. The findings suggest that today’s college students may be adrift in a sea of images with little ability to see beyond their own generation.”