6 simple ingredients to whip up a compelling photo essay

Draw the viewer in with a striking ‘anchor’ image, tell an emotion-packed, human-driven story, and close with a strong call to action.

6 photo essay tips

Do you want to make your storytelling snappier, more persuasive and utterly irresistible?

It’s hard to beat a tight and tidy photo essay. But how do you create one?

A video featuring Eileen Ryan, a photography consultant with Ragan Consulting Group, offers six tips for crafting a compelling photo essay.

She suggests starting with an “anchor photo,” which should be a striking image that “draws the viewer in” and demonstrates what the story’s about. Then, choose a “scene setter” that establishes the location and circumstances of your essay, followed by emotion-packed, people-driven portraits. Without human faces, Ryan says, “your story will lack empathy.”

After selecting “action” imagery that shows your subjects driving the story forward, settle on a “closing photo.” As Ryan says: “What action do you want the viewer to take, or what emotions do you want them to feel?”

Select a “clincher” image that will leave your viewers with a powerful, clear takeaway. Watch the rest of Ryan’s photo essay ideas here.


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