Photo Essays Topics

What is the difference between a photo essay and a photo project?  In “15 Creative Photography Project Ideas to Get You Shooting,” Jim Harmer presents a number of varied photography project ideas to help you find inspiration. Photo projects offer a great way to try something new and can help you get out of a rut. Suppose, though, that you’re not in a rut and don’t necessarily need inspiration but are rather looking for a project that relates to a special interest or one that you want to focus your attention on. This is where photo essays can come in.

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A photographic essay is a set or series of photographs that are intended to tell a story or evoke a series of emotions in the viewer. It allows the photographer to tell more than what is possible with a single image. Essays can range from purely photographic (no text) to photographs with captions, small texts or full text essays accompanying them. Photo essays are typically either thematic (addressing a specific topic or issue) or narrative (tells a story, usually in chronological sequence).

Following are ten photo essays ideas to consider…

Photo Essay #1: Document a Local Event. The town I live in has an annual bicycle classic. To turn this into a photo essay, one could arrive early to catch the cyclists and sponsors as they are preparing, then photograph the cyclists riding throughout the day, and finish with some shots of tents coming down and everyone heading home.

Photo Essay #2: Exhibition. Find an exhibition going on at a nearby gallery or museum. Not only photograph the pieces themselves but also those in attendance—how they are interacting with the pieces and among themselves. If you can, attend the reception so you can also capture the artist or artists whose work is on display or the curators of the exhibit.

Photo Essay #3: Transformation (Short-term). For this photo essay, find a subject that is undergoing a short-term transformation. This could include a group of men growing mustaches to celebrate Movember or a stray dog brought in to a shelter that is groomed and adopted. This sort of essay should take no longer than a month or so to tell its story.

Photo Essay #4: Transformation (Long-term). Think pregnancy, from the baby bump through to birth and maybe even the first birthday, or following a returning soldier and their transformation back to civilian life. This project should last months and could be worked around other projects being completed at the same time.

Photo Essay #5: A Day in the Life. For this essay, find someone such as a doctor, lawyer, firefighter, or police officer willing to let you follow him or her for a day, both behind the scenes and during their job. If there are times when photos cannot be taken, then you can use the text option for a photo essay and supplement your photos with some captions or short written passages.

Photo Essay #6: Raise Awareness. Find a local charity and document their daily operations, their personnel, and who or what they are helping. Give a visual sense of what they are trying to accomplish and why it is important.

Photo Essay #7: Turn a Day Out into Reportage. Find a location one would normally go to for a day out but treat this day out more as reportage—photograph behind the scenes shots, interview workers and customers. Locations could include amusement parks, nature preserves, or movie theaters.

Photo Essay #8: Give Meaning to Street Photography. Hit the streets and document the faces of the homeless or the lives of streetwalkers. Try to go deeper than the surface and look for what passersby tend to ignore.

Photo Essay #9: Neighbors. Find a neighborhood and, after photographing the homes, ask to photograph those inside the homes. You could photograph them inside their homes or just in their doorways, depending upon what you want the focus to be on—the interiors or the individuals within those interiors.

Photo Essay #10: Education. Find a school and photograph its students, teachers, and classrooms. Show the students studying and playing and the teachers teaching and on break. Photograph the computer labs and technology if it is a more affluent school or focus on what the teachers make do with if it is a less affluent school. For a longer essay, you could compare and contrast a rural school to a city school.


About the Author

Jeremiah Gilbert

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Jeremiah Gilbert is a college professor, photographer, and avid traveler. His first love is landscape photography, though he also enjoys urban exploration and street photography. Through his work with models, both in studio and on location, he has been internationally published in both digital and print publications. His blog, photo portfolio, and travel tales can be found at www.jeremiahgilbert.com.

Photography essay

Photography essays need to be as graphic as possible while explaining details

As a student in college or high school photography is a pastime that appeals to most. Equipped with a simple camera one could go around a city or even a small neighborhood clicking away at various sites and putting them together in a specific format. Writing a photography essay would be equally interesting because you could think of quite a few topics for your essay on photography that appeals to a wide range of readers.

Here are some essay topics on photography that you could work on

1/         Photography as a hobby

Though an expensive one, photography has long been an interesting hobby that crosses barriers of age. In fact, there are instances of people pursuing this hobby to such an extent that the hobby soon becomes a profession. What once started, as a way to kill long empty hours, soon becomes a job that is both enjoyable as well as lucrative. Your photography essay could be on these topics and strike a chord with quite a few readers provided you are able to follow the right essay structure and format.

2/         Sports photography

The recent football World Cup has shown that photography is practically indispensable in showcasing the world of sports. From capturing moments of ecstasy and sadness to the recording of regular events, the photographer has come a long way. If you are keen on combining photography along with other arts like writing and music you could come out with essays on any or all of these topics. In fact you could write a music essay or a poetry essay and illustrate with with appropriate photographs.

3/         News and photography

Though video cameras and other technological advancements have become quite popular, the work and equipment is still important in the field of news presentation. One cannot hope to be a successful journalist without a basic knowledge of photography. Comment on this in your photography essay.

4/         Underwater photography

With water proof cameras and new image capturing techniques, the secret lives of thousands of marine organisms can be recorded and viewed by millions all over the world. It is almost unbelievable to see the way in which underwater life comes alive with the new technology that is now available.

5/-       Candid camera

This is another way of creating some real lighthearted moments among friends and relatives. There are many ideas that you can think of to record on camera, the reactions of people who don’t know they are being filmed. Though this usually done on video, it is still a lot of fun that you can have. Of course, you must remember never to overstep your limits while pulling another person’s leg.

6/-       The history of photography

There are photography museums in some important cities of the world, where there are specimens of ancient cameras that looking nothing like the sleek machines we use now. It would be interesting for you to write an essay on the way in which these machines have evolved over the years.

Do not hesitate to get in touch with us for some fresh and interesting ideas for your photography essays. We can surely give you quite a few!

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