Idea Photo Essays - What Are Idea Photo Essays? Photography Techniques

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What’s an Idea Photo Essay?

Idea photo essays have some common theme that fits them together. These essays cover a broad range of ideas. As long as the photos all follow a common idea, the rest of the photo can be as diverse as you can imagine. As an example, let’s say you have a horse. You take photos of this horse at the beach, at the desert, in a forest, and in the mountains. This essay can still be documented together because they all prominently feature your horse.

An idea photo essay does not necessarily have to document a particular thing. It can also convey an emotion. You can take photos that you feel express doubt, sadness, love, fear, anger, or a range of other emotions. These photos also must flow together, but only to a point. They can be much less literal than other forms of photo essays. Take for example a photograph of a tree. In the far distance behind the tree is an office building, so your next photo could be of a window washer. Reflected in that window is a restaurant so your next photo can be of a chef. These photos all suggest the next photo in the series without being obvious or too literal.

Now You Try!

For an idea photo essay, you’ll need a camera and an idea. For this example I’ll use wind. You can’t take a photo of wind, but you can take photos of things that are impacted by wind. Some quick examples are trees bending over, a sailboat gliding across the bay, or a bird fighting the current. You can’t see the wind in any of these photos, but you know it’s there. Try to think outside of the box. If you’re still strapped for ideas, why not try a simple emotion to convey, such as love? This can be a photo of a couple kissing each other, a close-up of two people holding hands, or even a heart you found carved into a tree. Make a list of emotions or ideas you think would be fun to document, and then go outside and do it!

This post is part of the series: What Is A Photo Essay and How Do I Create One?

This article series explains what a photo essay is. It will explain the different types of photo essays, as well as give you ideas on how to create one yourself.

  1. What Is A Photo Essay?
  2. Time Sequence Photo Essays
  3. Location Photo Essays
  4. Idea Photo Essays
  5. Event Photo Essays
  6. One More Way to Test Your Photo Essay Skills