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Other well-made photo essays offer a new way to look at the everyday, such as Peter Funch’s much-reposted photo series for which Funch photographed the same street corner for nine years.As shown by these photographers’ experiences with the medium, a collection of photos can enliven spaces and attitudes.A well-executed photo essay doesn’t rely on a title or any prior knowledge of its creator; it narrates on its own, moving viewers through sensations, lessons, and reactions.
Common topics or concepts to start with are emotions (depicting sadness or happiness) or experiences (everyday life, city living).
For photographer Sharon Pannen, planning a photo essay is as simple as “picking out a subject you find interesting or you want to make a statement about.” The subjects of your photographs, whether human or not, will fill the space of your photos and influence the mood or idea you’re trying to depict.
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.
Photo essays can showcase any topic, from nature photography to portraiture to wedding shots.
We spoke to a few photographers to get their perspectives on what makes a good photo essay, and their tips for how any photographer can get started in this medium.This is why putting together photo essays is such a useful practice for developing your curatorial skills.“The most important part for me is getting outside opinions.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.A man sits alone on a chair on the side of the road.We see him from above, surrounded by grey cobblestones neatly placed, a broken plastic chair, and some pylons scattered along the curb.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.