Even Our Images Are Right-Handed

Posted on by Larry

As I was researching last week’s webinar – “Illustrating Visual Literacy” –
I came across an image framing concept that just stunned me. It’s called “right-handedness.”

NOTE: Since this was in one of my old video production textbooks, I clearly did not remember this text as well as I should.

The basic concept is simple: the eye derives the dominant meaning of an image from the right-side of the image.

NOTE: A corollary would be: If you are looking at images quickly, you’ll only remember what’s on the right-side of the image.

Let me illustrate.

(Photo courtesy of Marius Venter, www.Pexels.com.)

As we look at this photo, the first thing we see is the view from the cave. Then, we see what surrounds the view; specifically, the man.

However, if we flip the photo horizontally, the first thing we see is the man looking out – then we see the view he is looking at.

In other words, our eye gives more weight to the right side of an image than the left. Keep this concept in mind as you create images where you want to be sure that the viewer sees and remember a specific part of the frame; for example in ads and promos.


Personally, I find this right-side dominance very clear. My eye instantly sees the difference. However, what I don’t know is whether this is inherent in how we see, or dependent upon how we learn to read. I’d be interested in hearing comments from readers who read right-to-left or top-to-bottom languages to see if you see the same effect.

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4 Responses to Even Our Images Are Right-Handed

  1. Richard White says:

    Larry it’s generally the opposite in photography. It’s said our eyes view an image from left to right. The same way we read.

  2. Gregory Shaw says:

    Both earlier comments are right. And it’s tied to ‘story’.

    The story in version one: “A man is looking out of a cave at something in the valley.” The story in version two: “In a cave above a valley, a man is resting, enjoying the view.”

    Story, left to right, as we read. Last thought, conclusion, on right.

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