Here are six steps to follow to create a photo essay that tells a memorable story.There are two types of photo essays: the narrative and the thematic.
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Narrative photo essays focus on a story you’re telling the viewer, while thematic photo essays speak to a specific subject.
The most natural method for choosing a topic or theme for your photo essay is to go with what you know. Whether that includes people, objects, or the things you think about throughout the day, accessibility is key here.
A street cat wanders out of the frame and away from the man.
He appears lonely, the only person inhabiting the place in which he seems so comfortably seated.
Your projects can involve people you know or people you’ve only just met.
“Most projects I work on involve shooting portraits of strangers, so there’s always a tension in approaching someone for a portrait,” says photographer Taylor Dorrell.As the eye wanders throughout the frame, however, the viewer discovers more: a vast city cast beyond the street and behind the man’s chair.This image closes Sarah Pannell’s photo essay a quiet study of urban life.I tend to have a certain idea in mind, but try to allow for organic moments to happen.” Depending on your theme, there are a few types of photos you’ll want to use to anchor your essay.One or two lead photos should slowly introduce the viewer to your topic.Possibilities, discovery, and stories: these are some of the most effective elements of a photo essay.Collections of images can help produce a narrative, evoke emotion, and guide the viewer through one or more perspectives.For Wojtan, that tension can help build trust with a subject and actually leads to more natural images “If there’s tension it’s usually because the person’s new to being photographed by someone for something that’s outside of a candid moment or selfie, and they need guidance for posing.This gives me the opportunity to make them feel more comfortable and let them be themselves.Including different types of photos, shot at different ranges, angles, and perspectives, can help engage your viewer and add more texture to your series.Says photographer Taylor Dorrell: “After I have a group of images, I tend to think about color, composition, the order the images were taken, the subject material, and relevance to the concept.” Self-doubt can easily come into play when working with your own photography.