Presenting My Selfie to the Digital World: Visual Composition for Better Representation by Mary T. Christel
The intention that motivates an online image’s creation might be ignored by overwhelmed media consumers as images wash over them as they scroll through Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or Snapchat. Consumers of commercially and personally produced images tend to focus on how those images make them feel as opposed to the narrative or reportorial information embedded in images. Since both “experts” and “novices” create online images, discerning an imagemaker’s level of expertise is difficult, if not impossible, to grasp due to lack of attribution, the availability of sophisticated online photo editing tools, and a steep learning curve among many novice creators. To discourage merely skimming images and to develop greater visual literacy, five principles of visual composition can be applied to access and analyze the intended and unintended denotative and connotative messages embedded in personal or commercial images posted on various social media platforms. Once those are understood, both novice and experienced image curators and creators can expand their acumen analyzing existing images for their emotional and narrative content. They could then produce effective images that include selfies, photograph-based narrative storyboards, and Vine videos to strengthen their ability to share images that require more than a cursory skim and demonstrate an understanding of digital citizenship in knowing not only what is worth posting but also where it should be posted.