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How To Write A Descriptive Essay About A Picture: A Great Strategy


When writing a descriptive essay about a picture you have to repaint the picture with your words. More specifically this type of essay is about details and exploring the subject using the explanatory language that you are more likely to expect in fiction. Whether you are looking at a photograph or a painting, the person who composed that picture put meaning into his or her image. In writing about it, you must first be able to understand that message. But how do you go about analyzing the composition of a portrait?

  1. First of all you must choose your image. If your subject has been handed to you, then you can skip this step. Try not to be in such a hurry that you are unable to choose your subject carefully. Take into consideration how the image makes you feel; you will not be just describing the picture in bland words: there are two men talking on the left and ignoring their dog that is chasing chickens. Your reader will expect more from your descriptive essay.

  2. Analyze the image. What qualities does it have that you will want to describe? Are there towering thunderclouds or a calm, glassy sea under a sunset? Think too, about any memories the image invokes in you. In order for a picture to touch the viewer, the artist or photographer will be intentionally trying to pull these memories out. What emotions does the image suggest to you? Are you scared of thunder or do you feel washed clean like the air after a storm?

  3. Outline. Now you have the basics of why an image is powerful set them all out in a logical order in an outline. With a good outline, an essay practically writes itself. Your aim with this piece of writing is to help your reader experience the image.

  4. Use all five senses in your work. Smell the salt air, feel the sting of foam as the stormy water lashes the coast, hear the crackle of thunder; do not just describe what you see.

  5. Show, don’t tell. This is the advice given to all fiction writers but what does it mean? Telling is “The sun shone through the window.” Showing is “Dust motes danced on the beam of sunlight that lanced through the smeary window pane.” Showing lets the reader think more about and engage with, the writing. Is the room dusty because it is unused?

These are all details that need to be included in your writing to prove you have an understanding of how the image works.

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