How to Write a Photo Essay

Writing essays can be difficult regardless of what the topic may be. There are however many means by which writing essays can be made more interesting and one of the ways is by the creation of what is known as photo essays.

If you have the opportunity to write such an essay, you must always bear in mind that the photo is the key feature of this writing. All the text that you write and the content of that text must be focused on and revolve around the photo.

The perspective of the photo essay

Let’s start with the basic idea that “a picture paints a thousand words” which is an ancient Chinese proverb. Now look at the picture or photo that will form a part of your essay and explore a few angles. Amongst the considerations include whether you want to write the essay based on:

1. The perspective of the photo

The objective here is to use the picture to provoke a specific thought process or reaction from the viewer. If this is the case, then the text must focus on achieving this goal;

2. The quality or content of the photo.

This is more evaluative and explores the actual photo and its content. You can opt to take a critical or analytical perspective using the photo as the core of your writing;

3. The story behind the photo.

For example to provide a chronology of events that have taken place that form the essence of the photo.

The foundation of what you write

There are occasions when the photo may form a series in which case consideration must be given to the sequence of the photos and the text must support this.

The best way to write a photo essay is to keep in mind that it is a combination of both the picture and the text that will have the greatest impact. These two elements will combine to tell a story that will draw the viewer in.

We all know the impact that a photo can have just by reference to the cover pages of a variety of magazines. In some instances the photo speaks volumes about what the incident is, or who the person is who is featured, or the visuals can send a message that apparently does not require any text. However, if we were to then support this with text, whether it is in a simple caption or one paragraph or use the text as a storyline for the photo, the picture (forgive the pun) is then complete.

The secret to successful photo essay writing is to never lose sight of the visual. If you have the opportunity to write a full text to support a photo, in terms of format, this must not vary from the traditional requirements of an introduction, the main body of your story and of course, the conclusion.

You can either choose to use the photo as the launch pad for your story or alternatively, to use the photo as the central theme of your story.

Have you written photo essays in the past? What was the perspective and did you get a good response to it? Go ahead and share your both positive as well as negative experience, and even tips on how to do this. 

Categories: Writing Tips   Tags: how to write a photo essay