Part 1: What is a Photo-Essay?
In this first of three articles, we explain the basics of creating your own photo essay.
Imagine you want to tell a story, but you have to do it without using words. Instead, all you have are pictures. It may be hard to imagine – after all, isn’t it easier to just use words to explain your story?
Of course you could, but the beautiful thing about a photo essay is that you don’t need to explain. After all, a picture of a happy, smiling child or the busy scene of a night market is easily understood. What’s more, as social media connects us with people around the world, a photo essay can communicate with people who may not speak the same language as we do.
Basically, a photo essay is a series of pictures that tell a story. Think of it as visual storytelling. Just as a story has a theme, yours must have one too. To enter the Maybank Foundation-Perdana Leadership Foundation Writing and Photo Contest 2015, you must create your photo essay based on the theme “ASEAN Youth in Action!”
How do i begin?
Basically, a photo essay is a series of pictures that tell a story. Think of it as visual storytelling. Just as a story has a theme, yours must have one too. To enter the Maybank Foundation-Perdana Leadership Foundation Photo Essay Contest, you must create your photo essay based on the theme “ASEAN Youth in Action!”
Or you might enjoy visiting events like Festival Belia where there are lots of activities going on. This allows you to capture many different stories – you can focus on the visitors or a specific person and what they do; or you can pick one element, such as aspecific colour, and use that as an underlying theme to emphasise your pictures.
Example 1: Visitors leave messages at a ‘message tree’.
Example 2: Organisers with various tasks at Festival Belia 2014 – a photographer, a sales booth coordinator and a deejay hard at work at his console.
* Pictures courtesy of BijiBiji Initiative (http://bijibiji.com), taken by Chris Curzon. BijiBiji Initiative is a social enterprise that champions sustainable living to leave a positive impact on society and the environment.
Photo essays are a wonderful way totell stories in a different way – they can capture the mood of the moment,inspire people, evoke feelings, bring back memories, communicate emotions, or enable viewers to see something normal in a whole new light.
- To tell a story through a photo essay, your pictures must work together as a series; random pictures put together, without any common theme, do not qualify as a photo essay.
- Look for good examples and learn from them; you can look at samples from international competitions or from sources like National Geographic which are famous for their photography; try http://blogs.adobe.com/conversations/2014/08/the-ayv-awards-photo-essay-winners-communicating-meaning-without-sound-or-motion.html or http://education.nationalgeographic.com/media/file/GAW_photo_9-12edited922.pdf.
- Practice and be persistent – if you’ve never tried creating a photo essay, you may feel frustrated or uncertain about your work. Practice with a variety of topics, locations and styles so you can develop your own style; ask friends for their opinion on your pictures so you can improve.
- Take as many pictures as possible – you never know what will come in handy when you review them at the end of the day. Don’t be afraid to go back the next day, or the next, until you get the pictures you want. You may even end up with something different from what you originally planned for.