"Casablanca Not the Movie," a photograph by "Yoriyas" Yassine Alaoui Ismaili, provides a particularly rich image to analyze. We walk you through a process of studying it, culminating in the use of visual analysis skills.

For students: We hope this guide sharpens your reading skills and deepens your understanding.
For teachers: We encourage reproduction and adaptation of these ideas, freely and without further permission from AramcoWorld, by teachers at any level.
Common Core Standards met in this lesson: RL/RI.1 (see details below).
 —The Editors

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—Julie Weiss

"Casablanca Not the Movie"

"Casablanca Not the Movie," a photograph by "Yoriyas" Yassine Alaoui Ismaili, provides a particularly rich photograph to analyze. This activity walks you through a process of studying it. By the time you complete it, you will be able to:
  • explain a photographer's thinking and how it shapes a final product;
  • discuss the ways in which composition, color and subject matter contribute to a photo's impact on viewers;
  • use visual analysis skills to examine another photographer.
Looking at a Photo

Work with a partner on this and discuss your answers to these questions:

First Impressions: Look at the photograph. What is your eye drawn to? What do you notice first? For example, is it one of the objects in the photo? Is it the colors? Stop and think about why you looked there first. Did you and your partner begin your focus in the same part of the photo? Explain to each other why you think your glance was where it was. A bicycle lover, for example, might notice the bike first, while a painter might notice the colors of the sand or sky.

Composition: Composition refers to the where in the frame the photo's various elements are located. With your partner, describe how this photo is composed. Where are the people? Which ones are most important? What makes them seem that way? Which people seem less important and why? Look more closely at the man on the bicycle? What is he looking at? How might his gaze affect what your focus? Why do you think he is looking where he is? Why do you think the photographer made this man and his gaze so central? What is your response to what he's looking at? Confusion? Curiosity? Laughter?

Now look at the horses. Notice their two locations in the photo. Notice which way they're facing. Think about that direction in the same way you thought about where the man on the bicycle was looking. How does it affect you as a viewer? How does it help define the photo? Now imagine the horses were facing another way. How would that affect the photo? How would it affect your experience looking at the photo?

Look at the horizon line (the line that cuts the photo horizontally into two parts, either where the water meets the sky or where it meets the beach). Describe each part. How do the colors help define the photo?

Motivation: Read the caption, which is written by the photographer. How does knowing about the thinking that led to him to take this photo affect your understanding of the photo? How does it affect your appreciation of it?

Do It Yourself

Try it yourself. Find a different photograph and use the questions in this activity to guide you in analyzing it. You might want to pick another photo from photographer Yassine Alaoui Ismaili's website, www.yoriyas.com, where he has a collection of photos called "Casablanca North the Movie" that includes this photo.
This lesson meets this Common Core Standard:

RL/RI.1 Read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical interferences from it; cite specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions drawn from the text.