Visual Rhetorical Analysis

1151 words - 5 pages

This photograph, taken in 1967 in the heart of the Vietnam War Protests, depicts different ideologies about how problems can be solved. In the picture, which narrowly missed winning the Pulitzer Prize, a teen is seen poking carnations into the barrels of guns held by members of the US National Guard. This moment, captured by photographer Bernie Boston symbolizes the flower power movement. Flower power is a phrase that referred to the hippie notion of “make love not war”, and the idea that love and nonviolence, such as the growing of flowers, was a better way to heal the world than continued focus on capitalism and wars. The photograph can be analyzed through the elements of image as defined by ‘The Little Brown Handbook’ on page 86. There are a total of nine elements that contribute to the communicative quality of an image. The message that this particular image tries to convey is the strong sense of way that conflict should be handled; by way of guns or by way of flowers. The ‘way of guns’ is violence and excessive force which heavily contradicts the ‘way of flowers’ which is a more peaceful and diplomatic way of handling conflict or disagreement. This photograph depicts these ideologies through its use of emphasis, narration,point of view, arrangement, color, characterization, context and tension.

This photograph depicts the Vietnam War Protests and the counter culture movement in America. The emphasis of this photograph is the young man placing flowers in the gun barrels; however, the National Guardsmen that holds the carnations also draws attention. It seems that the guardsman is taking the flowers out of the gun barrel, which adds an element of tension and intrigue to the photograph. This photograph is titled ‘Flower Power’. There is no true narration in this photograph; there is no text in the image itself. However, the lack of narration does not detract from the power of the image. The title, which could act as a form of narration, references the immense power held by this movement. This movement caught media attention and was a monumental part of the counter-culture movement in America. The power of the so called ‘flower children’ during this time was influential in the advancement of the civil rights movement. This title gives more power to the image and gives it more weight as an iconic image by shedding a positive light on the movement.
The arrangement of this photograph is not manipulated which makes its message stronger. Instead, the photograph was captured as the event was happening. This draws attention to the gravity of the impact of these protests. In the article, Preforming Civic Identity: The Iconic Photograph of the Flag Raising on Iwo Jima, there is an emphasis on the importance of this type of arrangement; the description the arrangement of the iconic Iwo Jima photograph is “there is no hint that anyone is preforming for the camera”. The authors go on the explain that the lack of acting in the photograph “the image...

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