“The composition as a whole, the way in which the representational and interactive elements are made to relate to each other, the way they are integrated into a meaningful whole.”- Reading Images by Van Leeuwen
The composition of an image establishes its meaning, if it were placed differently, it would convey a different message to its audience. Light and focus demonstrates what is and what should be most salient to the audience in a particular moment. The meaning of an image is conveyed through three interrelated systems:
- Information value: The placement of elements deems their value
- Salience: Each element is intended to be more or less important to the audience in certain degrees
- Framing: The presence or lack thereof of framing devices connects or disconnects elements of the image
These ideas are equally as important in still and moving visuals and those with or without text.
Pictures can be integrated into the text and vice versa or separate entities. It depends on what message the text is trying to send and which element is more important- the text or the visual. Placement of texts and visuals in framing allocates their significance as well.
Information value can be separated into the “ideal“and the “real“. What is placed on the top is presented as the ideal (idealized info), and what is placed at the bottom is part of the real (more specific info).
Visuals can also be constructed more sporadically, for example the information value can be in the center or margin. This can be seen in many children’s images.The real and ideal can combine with the importance of centre and margin. This organizes and divides visual dimensions. This cross dimension, common in Western culture can be seen below. Even if an image has no centre or margins, these spaces continue to be defined within the image body.