Visual research methods include a variety of empirical approaches to studying social life and social processes, including communication and documentation. Developed largely in anthropology and sociology, visual methods typically involve the use of photography, videography, and drawing in qualitative studies of lived experience. Despite the use of visual methods in related fields such as CSCW, HCI, and computer science education, such approaches are underdeveloped in studies of communication design. In this paper, the author provides a historical and theoretical overview of visual research methods before detailing three interrelated approaches that may be productively applied to work in communication design. The author then illustrates how these approaches were adapted to communication design studies in industry and academe before describing implications for future work in this area.