What Are the Elements of a Photo Essay?

What are the elements of a photo essay

What are the elements of a photo essay?

Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned pro, it’s important to know what makes up a well-constructed photo essay. A strong narrative, a clear purpose, and a compelling collection of images will all help to make your story stand out.

Choose a topic that’s accessible to you and your audience. It can be a social issue, an environmental one, or something you’re interested in.

Start by researching photo essays from history and reading about the greats. This will give you a great foundation for your own project and help you determine what angles to take.

Focus on a specific subject for a day, or a series of days. You can also document a social issue in your local area.

Get inside the story — editors often want you to go deeper than a simple location. Be a good observer and capture images that reveal human interest, a unique element of the culture, or the aftermath of a major event (find my tips on pitching to editors here).

Create a narrative structure — this means thinking about what you want to achieve with each picture in your series and building an outline before you shoot. It’s essential to have a strong structure for your photo essay and it will help you stay focused as you select images.

Be ruthless when editing your photos — don’t be afraid to cut out a perfectly-framed, stunning image that won’t work in your essay.

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