Photo Essays

A photo essay is simply an essay that uses images to tell a story or make a point. In a photo essay, images are placed in a specific order in order to send a particular message to an audience. Some photo essays will have text to support the photos or provide details, but some photo essays will have no text at all.

TIPS: The tips below will help you if you are creating your first photo essay.

  1. Pick a specific topic. Just as you need a specific topic or angle with a traditional essay, you need a specific focus for your photo essay.
  2. Do some research. Just as you often need to conduct research to write a traditional essay, it’s important to conduct some research when you create a photo essay. Doing research can help you narrow your focus and have a better idea about what you want to photograph for your essay.
  3. Take more photos than you think you’ll need. It’s important to plan well for a photo essay, and part of that planning involves taking more pictures than you may feel is necessary at first. When it’s time to put your photo essay together, you’ll be thankful if you have a lot of options.
  4. You don’t need a fancy camera. You can take some excellent pictures using your cell phone and edit them using Instagram. Instagram will also let you change the look and feel of your pictures using filters, which can allow you to edit your pictures to really fit the mood of the photo essay you are trying to create.

Photo essays present well on the web. You can use free web space of your own to present your photo essays. Or, if you’re creating a photo essay as a part of a class, your professor may have a specific place for you to post your essay, such as on a class website.

Sample Photo Essays

If you aren’t sure what a photo essay is or even if you just want to feel inspired before you begin your own project, it can be helpful to take a look at sample photo essays. The samples below should get you started, but you can find more photo essays simply by searching for “photo essays” on the web.

A picture of a photo essay from Mother Jones website. Click the picture to view the photo essay.

A picture of a photo essay from Mother Jones website. Click the picture to view the photo essay.

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