How to Write a Photo Essay
A photo essay is an essay where photos do the most of the narration part unlike normal essays where words take the center stage. In the photo essay the words are used to express or convey the messages, which cannot be expressed just through the photos. So in essence, the photo essay conveys the emotions, thoughts and ideas by using a combination of words and pictures rather than depending on just words or a photo alone. One thing to remember in mind is that in the photo essay the words are used not just for mere annotation or caption; instead, they support the photos by providing suitable descriptions and details where the pictures might be lacking in doing the same.
Below, we will acquaint you with the nuances of writing a photo essay in a lucid and concise way.
Steps in writing a photo essay:
- Before embarking on the actual essay, you must thoroughly think about a topic for writing. What is the topic about? What does it mean to convey? Who might be the target audience? What impact will the topic have on the target audience?
- Once you have found the answers to the above questions, you should start doing some preliminary research on the selected topic, as it will make you thorough with it. The more familiar you are with the topic, the better are the chances to come up with a good essay.
- After you have found out the intricacies of your topic, you should try to identify the type of the essay that you are going to write. Photo essays fall into four major types:
1) time sequence,
3) idea, and
Each of these varies in some way or the other. For example, a time sequence essay is like making an essay with a timeline in the background. You start with the birth, origin or genesis of an object, or a thing, and describe in the essay by your photos that are taken in a progressively sequential order.
- For example, if you are trying to write about the take off of an aircraft, you start with a hangar where the aircraft is parked. Then you take some photographs of the aircraft from all possible angles to highlight and personify it. Then you should take the pictures of the vehicle that come for towing it towards the runway. If it’s a passenger plane, you should show the pictures of the aero drive, the taxiing of the aircraft on the runway and the final phase before take off in that sequence. After the aircraft has aligned itself centrally on the runway, you should start taking pictures in an intermittent fashion – from the revving of the engine to the gradual increase in the speed of the aircraft until it starts taking off. Once it has taken off in the air, you could take some extra photos to make an ending touch to the essay. This kind of the essay is called the time sequence essay, as every activity or action of an event is mentioned in a chorological order.
- If it’s a location essay then you should try to take photos in such a way that it gives the feel of that particular place or location that you are trying to portray in your essay. For example, a lake, boathouse, school, pool, garden, mountain, seaside, fair, etc. Capturing the details of the location is one of the major goals that you should try to pursue while writing the location essay.
- Similarly, an idea and event essays are two other forms of photo essays that are based on a single idea or event respectively. Here, you will have to center your focus based on the core idea or event that you are trying to cover in your essay. For example, if you are writing an essay based on a wedding event, you should try to capture as many emotions and moments of that event as possible. This will make it a powerful essay. For instance, the makeup of the bride, the arrival of the bridegroom, the laughter and expressions of the guests, the look of the father or padre and other details should be captured for a lasting effect.
- Taking pictures is not a constraint any more, as nowadays, almost everyone owns a digital camera; so you should try to take as many pictures as you can. This is because the more pictures you have, the greater is the chance of writing a good essay.
- Once you have taken all the pictures for your essay, you should examine them minutely in an image editing program or image viewer program in your system. You should try to find the minute details present in your photos and segregate the most outstanding pictures from the normal and ordinary ones. This is not a very easy thing to do if you are a newbie but with practice, you would be able to discern between the ordinary and the extraordinary. This step of selecting the best pictures is an important one for your photo essay, as success or failure of your essay considerably depends on it.
- Once you have selected the best photos, the next step is to insert them in a word processing or slideshow program such as MS Word or MS PowerPoint. You should write something after inserting each photo so that the reader might know what you are trying to convey. You should expand on the written part by using some amount of creativity and storytelling skills. The better you can narrate the picture, the better your essay will eventually turn out.
By following the above-mentioned steps, you would be able to write a good photo essay.
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