How to write a “Photo Essay”

A picture is worth a thousand words – and quite frankly I am getting a little tired of words. For this experiment cycle I have decided to get in touch with my creative side, that has not been tapped into in a while, with a photo essay. My plan is to use pictures of Harlem before gentrification and drawings on top of it of how those spaces look now. As a former art student, I have a lot of experience with photo essays. Photo essays usually consist of a series of photos tailored on a theme or story. I’ve done a photo essay series on milk, as well as life on 27th street NYC. This photo essay is different in that the images photographed will not be mine, since I don’t have the resources to travel to Harlem for the duration of this project and they will also be edited. I am used to developing film in a dark room so editing digital images will be a new experience for me. I hope this project gives viewers concrete examples and a deeper understanding of the changes due to gentrification. TIME Magazine’s 10 Best photo essays of January 2015 are all images that exemplify some accept of life, whether it be people, homes or personal items. Most of the images are powerful, for example exposing the epidemic in West Africa. I found a website on “How to Make” a photo essay, so I checked if what I thought I had to do aligned with its thoughts. Here’s what they have to say and a little bit about what I have to say.

  1. Find your photographer
    1. I usually use myself as a photographer, but like I said that’s not happening. So I got this stage down. I’ll be using some photos I found while doing research for my last project.
  2. Decide on Message
    1. My message is gentrification is changing Harlem. Bingo
  3. Make a game plan
    1. Game plan is to find pictures comparing new and old Harlem and digitally draw over old Harlem with outlines of New Harlem
  4. Choose your photos
    1. That’s easy
  5. Include a variety of shots
    1. I’m going to work with what I have
  6. Format your photos
    1. Yeah I’m doing that with the drawing
  7. Briefly set the scene
    1. I never really wrote an intro for a photo essay so this will be interesting
  8. Conclude with a call to action
    1. Stop screwing Harlem?

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