What is a Photo-Essay?

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Sometimes, pictures are better at telling stories than words. With a photo essay, you can use photographs to help bring depth to an idea. Photo essays are characterized by a series of pictures arranged in a way that tells a story of some kind. Many include captions as well, though it would not be out of the question for a photo essay to exclude them either. 

Photo essays tend to try to evoke a sense of impact that a traditional essay cannot. The most notable benefit of photo essays over traditional essays is that photo essays allow the reader to see what is being described. Their use of photographs serves as a more broad way of looking at a particular issue or scene. Even so, photo essays should have a fair amount of structure to them. A few things to consider include the scope, what details you should include, and the defining shots of your essay. Another advantage is that photo essays have a certain artistic value to them that you might not find elsewhere. As you acquire your photos, it is perfectly okay for your vision of the essay to change in ways that might not be immediately obvious; the more comfortable you are with your work, the more evocative it is likely to be of what you aim to express.

Ideally, however, a photo essay should balance its artistry with its value as an informative piece of literature. A photo essay can be written much like a regular essay, albeit with the additional restriction that the writing must be an analysis of the photo in some way. If the writing portion of the essay on top of acquiring and arranging the photos sounds intimidating, there are essays for sale that can save time or serve as an example of how to write. Keeping your photos well organized with a photo manager like ibi may also help with making sure your photos are available for reference when you are deciding which photos need to go where in the essay. 

A photo essay has limitations that must be considered as well. Generally, a photo essay is not an in-depth document. A photo essay’s focus is its photos and any text that it has should be easily relatable to the photograph. Additionally, credit must be given to the owner of a photograph if it is used, and failing to do so may come with legal repercussions. If explicit permission is not given to use a specific photograph there might still be a way to use it legally, but the best course of action is usually to simply ask permission. Photographs of public spaces are usually a good place to start, as it usually legal to photograph anyone or anything in a “public forum.” Still, you should be careful when taking pictures while traveling abroad as there are cases of people getting arrested for taking photos of military installations or other protected places. As long as you do some research beforehand, though, this is not likely to be an issue.

Photo essays might seem relatively simple on the surface, but they require a fair amount of effort. The level of detail that a photo essay brings to the table can be informative enough to the reader that reading it becomes a thought-provoking experience while still maintaining an artistic atmosphere. They have their pros and cons, of course, but they need not be major hindrances as long as the essay writer takes the proper precautions. As long as you have a good idea to work with, you should find that there are many ways to approach it.

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