"Picturing Place," Chapter three in Helmers' book, gives a lot of excellent description of terms such as
vernacular landscape meaning "an everyday style based on need and belief rather than established through tradition," (60). Where it got into some good visual rhetoric usage, though was in its descriptions of Yellowstone. In the case of Yellowstone, and frankly pretty often in life, images do much more than words. A place as vast as Yellowstone is not well described in words and I can see how a person with no exposure to such a place, the majority in the 1870s, would be able to believe only pictures (and yes, paintings) while thinking that an author was merely exaggerating. Visual rhetoric relies on image and words working together to improve upon the meaning of the other.
The section on Gettysburg and how tourism has had to change is also an excellent example of visual rhetoric in motion. People can best understand history when they can see it and hear (and yes, even smell it). I've always liked history, but history becomes more than just a story to us when we can also immediately perceive the world as those involved would. This does not mean the visual is more important; only by understanding who John F. Kennedy was, what he was attempting to do as a president and where and when he was shot does watching the Zapruder film of JFK's assassination make it seem something other than say, a poorly filmed movie scene to an audience disconnected with that time. Only by having both the text and images connect can the events be properly interpreted.
"Picturing People," Chapter four, has become a large part of how I'm analyzing my research. In Helmers' discussion of the eighteenth century, we can see our current society being formed. Having all classes be literate and traveling made the distinction of rich and poor more evident because it was now seen (and, to a much greater degree, read about). Poor began to be seen as those who we must be benevolent to but also fear, the ultimate "Other." This has not changed in the present day\\ and the best example of the creation of "Us" and "Them" is done through television. This is perhaps the most effective form of visual rhetoric in our society because it persuades us that we are connected to a community and, in liking its members, should try to meet its standards. Whether this can be done by having direct correlation between a television character, and a real member of society, is what I am beginning to find out.