The image categories were created to help manage visual overload. Each person approaches the task of selecting images in response to a question differently. Some want to have an idea of what general type of images they will find, while others like to rustle through a pile and see everything.
The people who seem to most appreciate the categories are seldom the same type of person who is likely to be facilitating an exercise. So even if the categories don’t seem important to you, consider who your participants are when deciding how to utilize them.
The VisualsSpeak ImageSet comes divided into four broad categories (Life, Nature, People, Things) in color-edge sleeves. On the back of the photographs, these categories are further broken down into twelve subcategories. If I were working with a group of people that included a lot of people who enjoyed structure and methodical approach, I might break out all twelve categories and put them each in separate piles. I might even put them in baskets or boxes to keep them ordered.
You can mix up the four categories (life, nature, people and things) if you want to work in small groups. For example, if you have a set of Visual Energizers or are using a VS ImageSet and you want to work in three small groups, you can give each group 1/3 of each category. This way every small group has a selection from the four categories of photos.
If you want to make sure the photo selection is more balanced, divide the set into the subcategories (each Category has 3 sub-categories) first, then split them into the piles for the small groups. The backs of the photos are labeled to make this easy.
Each of the major categories are labeled in color as well as by letter for those who do not see color easily. The particular colors are not significant. They were selected because many office supplies come in red, green, yellow and blue.
There is a MS Word file (“From the VisualsSpeak ImageSet-Handout Template”) on our VisualsSpeak download page on the main VisualsSpeak website that includes a chart of the categories. The bottom of the page has a place to type the question or statement you are asking people to respond to. Some people like to have this information in front of them as they begin to select images.
I use the categories to better understand how groups relate to images. I often record the category use, and sometimes the unique image numbers. When I look to understand an individual or group, I look to overall patterns. What do I see that repeats? What trends emerge? The categories are a piece of that trending.