Analysing images - What's outside the frame?

By studying one source closely, students can:

  • learn what life was like during a particular period
  • experience personal stories from the past
  • explore a particular issue, event or person in detail
  • illustrate how authors and artists construct their work.

In this activity, students use question prompts to consider what sits outside the frame of the image.

Learning intention

Students will:


An image relevant to the topic being studied (see More to explore at the bottom of this page for a variety of great digital image resources)

For more information on finding images, see the Select resources section of this site.

For background information and primary sources on a range of Victorian topics, see the Explore history section of this site.


Ask students to 'fill in the gaps' and/or ‘look outside the frame' of an image. You can choose to introduce background information about the image, creator and date of creation here, or after students' first brainstorm.

Start them off by getting them to think about:

  • Who are the people in the image?
  • What might their lives be like?
  • How might the people in the image remember the event?
  • What happened after the event in the image? What happened before?
  • What's happening outside the borders of the image?
  • What does the photographer or artist think about the people/landscape/event in the picture? How do you know?
  • What kind of person are they and what other images might they take or make?
  • Who might have been watching the artist/photographer and what did they think of the scene?

Ask students to write or draw their response.

More to explore

State Library Victoria Flickr page - great albums of out of copyright images from the SLV collections

State Library Victoria digital image pool - search function that allows students to browse thousands of copyright free images from the Library's catalogue

Trove - Pictures, photos, objects - section of the NLA's Trove website which searches thousands of images from collections across Australia

Google reverse image search - a great tool that allows you to search by image, especially useful if you can not find information about a particular image you have come across.

Google images - use Google's powerful search engines and tools to find images from different collections around the world

Engraving of Hume's party crossing a river.