Compositional interpretation is the act of a viewer analyzing the visual characteristics of an image/ composition for what it is, not what the meaning could be. By removing any cultural, societal and personal subjective views, the compositions are analysed entirely objectively. These compositions are analysed through the main characteristics of content, colour, light, spatial organisation and expressive content.

Colour is analysed by three formal characteristics; hue, saturation and value. Where’s hue is the actual colour used, and saturation refers to the hues purity in relations to it’s appearance in the could spectrum. Finally, value refers to the lightness or darkness of the colour.

Spatial Organisation is how the objects or ‘volumes’ are organised around an images space. Key points of analysis include, how the images volumes create vocialisers and draw connections to each other via the lines they create. Other key points involve the images landscape and how it forms a sense of 3D space through elements such as the horizon line, the spectators eye level and the distance and height of volumes.

Lighting within the image can be either natural or artificial and has a direct relationship with the colour of the image. It does this by affecting the saturation and value of hues. Furthmore, the source and direction of lighting affect the realism of the 3D space within images.

The Expressive Content of an image can be analysed with a much more open mind, it involves an analysis of how the formal elements of the image create a certain atmosphere or feeling. This can be thought of as a combination of the ‘feel’ of an image and the affect of the subject matter with in the image.



Lasersohn, P (2007). Compositional Interpretation. Center for the study of Language and Interpretation. Retrieved from:

Rose, G., 2001. The Good Eye, Visual methodologies: an introduction to the interpretation of visual materials, London: Sage