Exercise 3.4: A persuasive image
- Find three examples of landscape photographs (or the collective efforts of a set of
photographs) that are being used to assert a particular ideological point of view. Look
at images that have been used in advertising or other commercial applications, as well
as within fine art and documentary photography. This might be a very explicit message,
or something a lot subtler. If text is used, consider how this relates to the image. In
your learning log, make some brief comments (around 300 words) describing how the
photographer or designer used the photograph and how the image communicates its
- Consider an issue (social, political or environmental) that you feel strongly about.
Design an image that you think will have a persuasive effect upon a viewer. This
could be a deliberately rough photomontage or something more polished. You don’t
necessarily need to make the photograph or tableau; this is an exercise in generating
ideas, thinking about communicating an idea and taking an ideological standpoint.
Annotate sketches and any other work and enter it into your learning log.
If you’re struggling with this exercise, you may find it helpful to read ahead to the ‘Landscape
and advertising’ project in Part Four.
Looking for examples, I was reminded of some of the cigarette adverts of the ’70s which ended up being banned because they made outlandish claims like cool as a mountain stream for a twist of paper full of leaves that you set fire too. So I looked some of these out and found the following:
In all three images, the designer is using outdoors activities and idyllic landscape to add glamour to a product that is the opposite of the things portrayed. Tobacco companies needed to add glamour in their advertising because in reality, breathing the smoke from burning leaves is a senseless act. By adding rugged cowboys and tough men fishing and driving off-road vehicles as well as people hiking up a mountain stream, puffing on cigarettes made the act of smoking seem glamorous.
What I find quite perverse is that using the product will shorten your life and stop you doing all these things and yet for years phrases like Cool as a mountain stream did not strike the advertising standards council as wrong. It shows the power that was once wielded by the tobacco companies, a grip they lost by the demonisation of smoking, leaving them no longer commanding such respect.
In the UK we move closer and closer to a Nanny state which continues to wind me up, the height of this was for me the ruling that you may only buy Paracetamol in boxes of 16 and you may only buy two at a time because it is possible to eat dozens of them and kill yourself. This is something that is not prevented by the ruling as if anyone wants to kill themselves they can just buy lots two at a time and even go into several shops, the people who are genuinely hurt by this are people like myself and my late mother who take them quite legitimately once a day because they are in lots of pain. We have to keep running back and forth to the chemists to buy them. I can not begin to tell you how much this law PISSES ME OFF (rude words and capitals to make it seem like a cause that I am really into) so I have created an image using some rued montage to show how I think this campaign could be represented: