Photo Essay Examples

Photo Essay Examples

Have you run out of interesting photo essay ideas? I have prepared a number of examples for you to draw the inspiration from. Find the photo essay example you like and you are sure to create a lasting emotional impact with your work.

30 Photo Essay Examples to Inspire

What is a photo essay? It is a series or a collection of shots created for the purpose of provoking feelings and emotions. They exist in a variety of forms – from photos only to images with brief comments or captions and written essays accompanied by shots.

Check out the following 30 photo essay examples I have found.

1. Protests

photo essay examples

A great idea for photo essays is to shoot the protest to show its power. Don’t forget about angles, composition and framing. Go up to the front and photograph the leader of the protesters walking forward.

After that, go back to the end of the group to take pictures of families joining the protest. As a result, you will gain experience shooting big groups of people in motion.

2. Abandoned Building

photo essay examples

Old buildings are excellent photo essay topics since you can capture a large number of elements. Get approval before going in but mind that such places are far from being totally safe. Bring various lenses: the macro one – for details and the wide-angle one – when you want to include many elements in one shot.

3. Local Event

photo essay examples

It doesn’t matter if you are a resident of a large city or a small town, there may be an upcoming local event, like a marathon or a festival. This is a nice opportunity to realize photo essay ideas.

You can capture the before, while and after stages of the event. Arrive earlier and take pictures of the preparation activities, then shoot the actual event starting with the official beginning.

Keep photographing even when the event is over, capture the cleaning up and disassembling processes.

4. BTS

photo essay examples

Many people find behind-the-scene activities more fascinating than their results shown to the viewers. Movie filming, photo sessions, tours or stories of successful people are amazing photo essay themes. This always finds an emotional response from the audience. Such shootings show us the other side of a person or events which we knew nothing about.

5. Sport Fans

photo essay examples

Sport doesn’t only unite people but also evokes their passion and enthusiasm. Fans throughout the world are vigorously rooting for their favorite teams and players, regardless of the kind of sport.

The emotions are running high during different games and it is a perfect time to capture a photographic essay. No need to buy tickets to a big game, a local high school one will be enough to practice.

6. Social Issues

photo essay examples

The brightest examples of photo essays are related to social issues, like unemployment, domestic violence, gender discrimination and more. Address the topic carefully, with consideration and look for a proper perspective.

Your shots may draw the people’s attention to a truly burning and relevant matter and have a stronger effect than any text.

7. Pets

photo essay examples

You don’t necessarily have to focus on profound photo essay topics to evoke emotions. Capturing pets enjoying their worry-free and untroubled life seems like an easy but at the same time interesting activity.

Choose any animal – from a domestic bird to a dog, cat or horse. For more emotional images, take pictures of a pet when it is still a baby and recreate these shots when it is older or is in its final days.

8. Street Style

photo essay examples

People often express themselves with the help of clothes. The way passers-by on the streets are dressed may reflect the clothing style of a whole society. That’s why you can travel around the world and capture people’s outfits in various areas.

This photo essay example allows you to get familiar with the identity of the inhabitants of various countries. You might be surprised to see that some stereotyped beliefs about people from a particular area aren’t true.

9. Landmarks

photo essay examples

The pictures of landmarks are typically taken from a certain spot. One of the best photo essay ideas is to try shooting sights from various angles. You will also have an opportunity to improve composition and your framing skills.

TA variety of perspectives is endless: through the streets, in the morning, afternoon and evening, with a drone or including reflections.

10. Charity

photo essay examples

Connect your persuasive photo essay to a relevant global problem. Look for a volunteer organization in your area, they will be eager to participate in your photography project.

Capture what exactly the volunteers are involved in, focus on the subjects they are providing help to and show why it matters.

11. Religious Traditions

photo essay examples

Religion is an important part of any culture. The most prominent photo essay examples are connected to religious traditions across the world.

There are no limits on how you can interpret and reflect this topic in your shots. Pay attention to popular religious occasions, traditional religious clothing and dishes typical of these holidays.

12. School

photo essay examples

Consider visiting the school and capturing day-to-day activities of teachers and pupils as one of photo story ideas. Try to go unnoticed but feel free to ask people to take part in the shooting if they want to.

You can find plenty of captivating scenes at school: children and teachers on a break, different classrooms, cooks preparing food in the canteen.

13. Native Cultures

photo essay examples

Because of globalization, various cultures gradually begin to resemble each other. That’s why you can base your photographic essay on capturing native cultures.

In North America, you can try to find some Native American cultures. In Australia, you can visit aborigines and in Scandinavia – the Sami nation. Highlight their daily routine, traditions, the way of life, eating habits, etc.

14. Personal Space

photo essay examples

The working and living space of a person has a lot of peculiar details and is an ideal background for photo essays. You can narrow down this idea to representatives of certain professions.

For instance, the rooms and houses of people of creative professions will definitely surprise and tell a lot about those who live there.

15. Bodypositivity

photo essay examples

Modern beauty and fashion industry promote an unrealistically slim and perfect body. Therefore, the bodypositivity will make an excellent topic for powerful photo essays. For this project, you can invite people of different age groups, sizes, disabled people, etc.

Then place a real and retouched shot next to each other for comparison. Try asking your models the questions regarding parts of their bodies they are unsatisfied about the most and highlight them in the images.

16. Alternative Lifestyles

photo essay examples

Some people decide to lead a lifestyle that differs from the one generally accepted by society. Explore different areas and look for people with an unusual way of living. Take pictures of those, who reside in extraordinary conditions, representatives of various subcultures or the LBGTQ community.

These photo essay topics show other people that it is okay to go out of the comfort zone and run against the wind.

17. A Day in the Life

photo essay examples

One of the best photo essays concepts is related to a day in the life. The main character can be any person – a relative or a family member, a teacher, a writer or policeman, etc.

People are generally interested in finding out facts about the lives and daily routine of others. A life of every human is incredible, especially if you learn it in more detail.

18. Climate Change

photo essay examples

It is possible to bring to life a variety of photo story ideas concerned to climate changes. Travel to places most affected by climate change, for instance, glaciers or famous resorts.

Capture the way the continuous drought has influenced the environment, animals and the inhabitants. As an alternative, take pictures of environmentalist protests or inexhaustible energy sources.

19. Struggles of Weight Loss

photo essay examples

If you look at photo essay examples devoted to the improvement, they always attract plenty of attention from viewers. Capture the whole process of losing weight and show the results with the help of before/after shots. You are sure to get an inspiring and motivating photography essay.

Don’t hesitate to involve other people who have also become thinner. To add more emotions, snap pictures of people with loose skin after losing weight.

20. Pregnancy

photo essay examples

As you already know, body changes are appealing and intriguing photo essay topics. Many shooters love capturing the way woman’s body is being transformed during pregnancy. In case you feel like experimenting and touching upon social matters, choose teenage pregnant girls as models for your project.

21. Seasonal Changes

photo essay examples

The most eye-catching photo story examples feature seasonal changes. This idea isn’t exactly an innovative one. But if you are ready for creative experiments, you can take fantastic pictures.

Come up with the way you can make this photo essay more unique. For instance, shoot your favorite location, a place where you spent your childhood or met the love of your life.

22. “Every Day” by Noah Kalina

Noah Kalina, a photographer, has been taking photos of himself for 12 years every single day. After that, he managed to include all these shots in a video lasting for 7 minutes.

Noah isn’t going to stop and will continue taking pictures of himself till the last day of his life. A photography essay of a person growing up and then gradually getting older will be a touching and attention-grabbing story.

23. “42nd and Vanderbilt” by Peter Funch

photo essay examples

One of the best photo essays 2018 was created by Peter Funch, a Danish photographer. He has been shooting one and the same place on a particular NY street at the same time for 9 years.

Peter combined shots of regular passers-by he captured on different days, focusing on identical activities, like drinking coffee or smoking, similar hairstyles and outfits.

24. “Standard” by Roger Eberhard

photo essay examples

Hotel rooms in different areas of the world sometimes literally copy each other. Roger Eberhard, a photographer, traveled to 32 countries with the aim to capture repetitive interiors of Hilton hotel rooms.

Then he combined them with the shot of a window view for his book named Standard. Working on his photographic essay, Roger couldn’t help but wonder why people go traveling to different countries and in each new area, they live in identical-looking spaces.

25. “Riding the Tube” by Stefan Rousseau

photo essay examples

On his way to the center of London, photographer Stefan Rousseau began taking photos of other passengers. People going in public transport often had their heads in the clouds and didn’t even notice him shooting.

Stefan takes pictures in black and white to avoid bright tones that divert attention from emotions on the people’s faces.

26. “Harlem Family” by Gordon Parks

photo essay examples

Gordon Parks, the first African-American photographer of LIFE magazine, got an assignment to take pictures of the basis of urban violence in America.

He has been taking numerous pictures of one family for four weeks. This photo essay example touches the topic of racism, economic exclusion and poverty of many American citizens.

27. “Undocumented” by John Moore

photo essay examples

John Moore has been concentrating on the problem of undocumented immigrants to the USA for ten years. He managed to photograph the entire US southern border, actively traveled all over Mexico and Central America, visited immigrant groups in the USA.

John’s unique photo essays feature massive deportations, ICE raiding immigrant groups and their growing panic that followed all these terrible events.

28. “Signed, X” by Kate Ryan

photo essay examples

Among the most moving photo essay examples is “Signed”. It depicts various aspects of life after a sexual assault. Kate Ryan interviewed and photographed the sexual assault victims.

In this way, she wanted to reflect their traumatic experience and psychological stress that doesn’t go away even after many years.

29. “Aging in Prison” by Jessica Earnshaw

photo essay examples

It took Jessica Earnshaw almost two weeks to take pictures of elderly inmates in prison. Her shots can be found on the pages of National Geographic and other well-known magazines.

Jessica’s project impresses people with its profound idea and special emphasis on people, who spend their last years being locked away. Prison photo essay themes should be explored even further.

30. “Breach of Piece” by Eric Etheridge

Eric Etheridge snapped photos of people approximately 50 years after their mugshots were taken. It is especially interesting to compare the portraits of that same women and men many years later.

Eric has added brief interviews to his picture study essay for a viewer to get familiar with these people’s stories.

Best Photo Essays Freebies

While editing your photography essay, remember that it is highly important to accentuate the concept and feelings you want to convey. With the following 5 freebies, stunning results are guaranteed.

Black and White Classic

free action for photo essays black and whitefree action for photo essays black and white

This black and white Ps action will put an emphasis on the artistic features of your shot and give a timeless B&W touch. Apply this action if you want to add a bit of mystery to your images. Due to the contrast between black and white tones, the photo will be more detailed.

HDR Contrast

free action for photo essays hdrfree action for photo essays hdr

Choose this Ps HDR action for photography essays with scenery and nature. It increases the detalization and saturation of pictures.

Smoke Mystery

freebies for photo essays black and whitefreebies for photo essays black and white

Add more drama to your images with this Ps smoke overlay. With its help, you will be able to add subtle grey smoke wisps to shots for visual appeal.

Cool Soft Light

free preset for photo essays hdrfree preset for photo essays hdr

Make elements of a good photograph more prominent by applying this preset. It gives images blue toning, adds slight drama to the entire scene. Moreover, the preset increases the darkness of other shades and creates colder skin tones.

Portrait Vintage

free portrait preset for photo essaysfree portrait preset for photo essays

A vintage effect will beautifully suit photography essays. If you like a film-looking style of pictures with deep tones, apply this Lr preset. It is equally perfect for enhancing shots taken inside and outside.

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