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Photoessay and Photo Projects

Week 5
by

Elena Skochilo

on 8 September 2014

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Transcript of Photoessay and Photo Projects

Photographs can elicit specific emotional responses better than words.

“A picture is worth a thousand words.”
What about a series of photos?
What’s the point of a Photo Essay?
A good photojournalist is, first and foremost, a good photographer.

The added factor is that a good photojournalist can tell a story through the use of photographs.
When you create a photo essay, photography techniques still matter!

Viewers get distracted by poor exposure, composition, and color.
A good photograph allows the viewer to ignore the good technique and focus on the photograph’s subject.
Techniques
A photo essay works much like a real essay: there should be a thesis, the main point of your essay.
You should be able to sum up the thesis of your photo essay in one sentence.
Each photograph is like a supporting paragraph in your essay. Each photograph needs to be relevant to your thesis in some way.
Don’t repeat the same supporting ideas twice. Make sure you give your audience enough material to support your thesis, but don’t overwhelm them.
Photo Essay = Written Essay
There is no right or wrong way to make a photo essay. A photo essay achieves its purpose as long as it effectively tells a story using photographs.

But, there are certain steps you should be aware of.
Choosing a topic and your stance
Researching the topic
How many photos to include
Captions
What is the desired end result?
Crafting a Photo Essay
Choose a topic that interests you, then choose your stance.
What are you specifically trying to show about your chosen topic?
Without a position on your chosen topic, the audience could become confused about what your purpose is.
Choosing a topic
How familiar are you with your topic? Do you need to do any research on your topic before you start shooting?
Should you plan a shot list?

!
Research and planning are great tools to help you prepare for what sort of shots you’ll need to look for and ensure that you have a complete photo essay.
Researching your topic
The most important step to creating a photo essay is
TAKING PICTURES!

No photos = no photo essay!

Once you have a topic, once you have at least a decent idea of your stance and what you want the end result to look like, then go out and shoot!
Take photos!
Action: Photos of the events unfolding
Emotion: Photos of people reacting to the event unfolding

Spot news will usually use more action-oriented photos than photo essays, but depending on the story, action photos can be useful in photo essays as well.
Many photo essays are made specifically to evoke certain emotions, so you will find many examples of these.
Action & Emotion
You’re done photographing and now you have dozens of photos. Now what?

Think of your thesis. By this point, you must have a thesis.

You should vary the types of shots that go into your final essay: Landscapes, close-ups, portraits, different angles, people, objects, etc.

Try to include a sense of place and context into your photographs to give the viewer an idea of the environment

Every photograph should add something of substance to your photo essay.

The photos, as a group, should have more significance than any one photograph by itself
Which photos go into the essay?
How familiar are you with your topic? Do you need to do any research on your topic before you start shooting?
Should you plan a shot list?
Research and planning are great tools to help you prepare for what sort of shots you’ll need to look for and ensure that you have a complete photo essay.
The most important step to creating a photo essay is actually taking pictures!
No photos = no photo essay!
Once you have a topic, once you have at least a decent idea of your stance and what you want the end result to look like, then go out and shoot!
Take photos!
Take photos!
Take photos!
Take photos!
Take photos!
Take photos!
Take photos!
Take photos!
Take photos!
Take photos!
Take photos!
Sometimes the most difficult part of creating a photo essay is learning how to delete photographs.
You have to look through your photo essay with a critical eye and ruthlessly delete photographs that don’t make the cut.
Learn to edit!
The photographer chooses which moments to capture, which moments to show.
How important is it to show all sides of the story in your photo essay?
How much of yourself do you want to show through in your photo essay? Is your presence as a photographer felt in the essay?
In your captions and your explanation of your essay, do you refer to yourself as part of the story?
Do you want the audience to feel your personal connection to the story (if there is one)?
How are you representing the story?
Not every photo essay includes captions, but including them can help lead the viewer to the meaning and story you want them to get from the photo.
Captions
They can be journalistic, straightforward and informative, with very little bias:
Coal miners in Tash-Kumyr, which is struggling to survive

They can give greater context to the photo:
“Meat sold on the street in an Uzbek neighborhood in Osh on August 28, 2010. Some Uzbeks opened temporary shops in their neighborhoods, as Uzbeks have been forced out of bazaars while they are still afraid of walking on the street outside of their neighborhoods.”
Captions
You should have an idea of what the end result will look like.
What do you want the viewer to see? What is the meaning and the story that you want the viewer to take from your essay?
What conclusion do you want them to draw?
What emotions do you want the viewers to feel?
How much do you want the viewers to interpret the photos for themselves?
The Result
http://www.ikurukuwajima.com/#
http://lens.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/01/25/showcase-114/
http://lens.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/03/08/elegy-to-a-small-idaho-town/
http://lens.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/03/15/returning-to-a-nightmare-in-japan/
http://lens.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/02/07/a-safe-drug-injection-site-in-vancouver/
Photo Essay
Photo Essay
Photo Essay
Photo Essay
Photo Essay
Photo Essay
Photo Essay
Photo Essay
Photo Essay
Photo Essay
Too many photos can overwhelm the audience or desensitize them (with any type of emotion, negative or positive)
Or, too many photos can bore the audience; you can lose their attention.
Too few photographs may not be enough to tell the story.
Too many can make the essay seem repetitive.
Think about the purpose, the audience, the assignment, etc.
How many photos?
© Kirstin Styers
http://inmotion.magnumphotos.com/essay/georgian-spring-gueorgui-pinkhassov
http://lightbox.time.com/category/photo-essay/
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