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How to Create an Engaging Photo Essay (with Examples)

Photo essays tell a story in pictures. They're a great way to improve at photography and story-telling skills at once. Learn how to do create a great one.

Learn | Photography Guides | By Ana Mireles

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Photography is a medium used to tell stories – sometimes they are told in one picture, sometimes you need a whole series. Those series can be photo essays.

If you’ve never done a photo essay before, or you’re simply struggling to find your next project, this article will be of help. I’ll be showing you what a photo essay is and how to go about doing one.

You’ll also find plenty of photo essay ideas and some famous photo essay examples from recent times that will serve you as inspiration.

If you’re ready to get started, let’s jump right in!

Table of Contents

What is a Photo Essay?

A photo essay is a series of images that share an overarching theme as well as a visual and technical coherence to tell a story. Some people refer to a photo essay as a photo series or a photo story – this often happens in photography competitions.

Photographic history is full of famous photo essays. Think about The Great Depression by Dorothea Lange, Like Brother Like Sister by Wolfgang Tillmans, Gandhi’s funeral by Henri Cartier Bresson, amongst others.

What are the types of photo essay?

Despite popular belief, the type of photo essay doesn’t depend on the type of photography that you do – in other words, journalism, documentary, fine art, or any other photographic genre is not a type of photo essay.

Instead, there are two main types of photo essays: narrative and thematic .

As you have probably already guessed, the thematic one presents images pulled together by a topic – for example, global warming. The images can be about animals and nature as well as natural disasters devastating cities. They can happen all over the world or in the same location, and they can be captured in different moments in time – there’s a lot of flexibility.

A narrative photo essa y, on the other hand, tells the story of a character (human or not), portraying a place or an event. For example, a narrative photo essay on coffee would document the process from the planting and harvesting – to the roasting and grinding until it reaches your morning cup.

What are some of the key elements of a photo essay?

  • Tell a unique story – A unique story doesn’t mean that you have to photograph something that nobody has done before – that would be almost impossible! It means that you should consider what you’re bringing to the table on a particular topic.
  • Put yourself into the work – One of the best ways to make a compelling photo essay is by adding your point of view, which can only be done with your life experiences and the way you see the world.
  • Add depth to the concept – The best photo essays are the ones that go past the obvious and dig deeper in the story, going behind the scenes, or examining a day in the life of the subject matter – that’s what pulls in the spectator.
  • Nail the technique – Even if the concept and the story are the most important part of a photo essay, it won’t have the same success if it’s poorly executed.
  • Build a structure – A photo essay is about telling a thought-provoking story – so, think about it in a narrative way. Which images are going to introduce the topic? Which ones represent a climax? How is it going to end – how do you want the viewer to feel after seeing your photo series?
  • Make strong choices – If you really want to convey an emotion and a unique point of view, you’re going to need to make some hard decisions. Which light are you using? Which lens? How many images will there be in the series? etc., and most importantly for a great photo essay is the why behind those choices.

9 Tips for Creating a Photo Essay

photo essay of shoes

Credit: Laura James

1. Choose something you know

To make a good photo essay, you don’t need to travel to an exotic location or document a civil war – I mean, it’s great if you can, but you can start close to home.

Depending on the type of photography you do and the topic you’re looking for in your photographic essay, you can photograph a local event or visit an abandoned building outside your town.

It will be much easier for you to find a unique perspective and tell a better story if you’re already familiar with the subject. Also, consider that you might have to return a few times to the same location to get all the photos you need.

2. Follow your passion

Most photo essays take dedication and passion. If you choose a subject that might be easy, but you’re not really into it – the results won’t be as exciting. Taking photos will always be easier and more fun if you’re covering something you’re passionate about.

3. Take your time

A great photo essay is not done in a few hours. You need to put in the time to research it, conceptualizing it, editing, etc. That’s why I previously recommended following your passion because it takes a lot of dedication, and if you’re not passionate about it – it’s difficult to push through.

4. Write a summary or statement

Photo essays are always accompanied by some text. You can do this in the form of an introduction, write captions for each photo or write it as a conclusion. That’s up to you and how you want to present the work.

5. Learn from the masters

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Making a photographic essay takes a lot of practice and knowledge. A great way to become a better photographer and improve your storytelling skills is by studying the work of others. You can go to art shows, review books and magazines and look at the winners in photo contests – most of the time, there’s a category for photo series.

6. Get a wide variety of photos

Think about a story – a literary one. It usually tells you where the story is happening, who is the main character, and it gives you a few details to make you engage with it, right?

The same thing happens with a visual story in a photo essay – you can do some wide-angle shots to establish the scenes and some close-ups to show the details. Make a shot list to ensure you cover all the different angles.

Some of your pictures should guide the viewer in, while others are more climatic and regard the experience they are taking out of your photos.

7. Follow a consistent look

Both in style and aesthetics, all the images in your series need to be coherent. You can achieve this in different ways, from the choice of lighting, the mood, the post-processing, etc.

8. Be self-critical

Once you have all the photos, make sure you edit them with a good dose of self-criticism. Not all the pictures that you took belong in the photo essay. Choose only the best ones and make sure they tell the full story.

9. Ask for constructive feedback

Often, when we’re working on a photo essay project for a long time, everything makes perfect sense in our heads. However, someone outside the project might not be getting the idea. It’s important that you get honest and constructive criticism to improve your photography.

How to Create a Photo Essay in 5 Steps

photo essay of shoes

Credit: Quang Nguyen Vinh

1. Choose your topic

This is the first step that you need to take to decide if your photo essay is going to be narrative or thematic. Then, choose what is it going to be about?

Ideally, it should be something that you’re interested in, that you have something to say about it, and it can connect with other people.

2. Research your topic

To tell a good story about something, you need to be familiar with that something. This is especially true when you want to go deeper and make a compelling photo essay. Day in the life photo essays are a popular choice, since often, these can be performed with friends and family, whom you already should know well.

3. Plan your photoshoot

Depending on what you’re photographing, this step can be very different from one project to the next. For a fine art project, you might need to find a location, props, models, a shot list, etc., while a documentary photo essay is about planning the best time to do the photos, what gear to bring with you, finding a local guide, etc.

Every photo essay will need different planning, so before taking pictures, put in the required time to get things right.

4. Experiment

It’s one thing to plan your photo shoot and having a shot list that you have to get, or else the photo essay won’t be complete. It’s another thing to miss out on some amazing photo opportunities that you couldn’t foresee.

So, be prepared but also stay open-minded and experiment with different settings, different perspectives, etc.

5. Make a final selection

Editing your work can be one of the hardest parts of doing a photo essay. Sometimes we can be overly critical, and others, we get attached to bad photos because we put a lot of effort into them or we had a great time doing them.

Try to be as objective as possible, don’t be afraid to ask for opinions and make various revisions before settling down on a final cut.

7 Photo Essay Topics, Ideas & Examples

photo essay of shoes

Credit: Michelle Leman

  • Architectural photo essay

Using architecture as your main subject, there are tons of photo essay ideas that you can do. For some inspiration, you can check out the work of Francisco Marin – who was trained as an architect and then turned to photography to “explore a different way to perceive things”.

You can also lookup Luisa Lambri. Amongst her series, you’ll find many photo essay examples in which architecture is the subject she uses to explore the relationship between photography and space.

  • Process and transformation photo essay

This is one of the best photo essay topics for beginners because the story tells itself. Pick something that has a beginning and an end, for example, pregnancy, the metamorphosis of a butterfly, the life-cycle of a plant, etc.

Keep in mind that these topics are linear and give you an easy way into the narrative flow – however, it might be difficult to find an interesting perspective and a unique point of view.

  • A day in the life of ‘X’ photo essay

There are tons of interesting photo essay ideas in this category – you can follow around a celebrity, a worker, your child, etc. You don’t even have to do it about a human subject – think about doing a photo essay about a day in the life of a racing horse, for example – find something that’s interesting for you.

  • Time passing by photo essay

It can be a natural site or a landmark photo essay – whatever is close to you will work best as you’ll need to come back multiple times to capture time passing by. For example, how this place changes throughout the seasons or maybe even over the years.

A fun option if you live with family is to document a birthday party each year, seeing how the subject changes over time. This can be combined with a transformation essay or sorts, documenting the changes in interpersonal relationships over time.

  • Travel photo essay

Do you want to make the jump from tourist snapshots into a travel photo essay? Research the place you’re going to be travelling to. Then, choose a topic.

If you’re having trouble with how to do this, check out any travel magazine – National Geographic, for example. They won’t do a generic article about Texas – they do an article about the beach life on the Texas Gulf Coast and another one about the diverse flavors of Texas.

The more specific you get, the deeper you can go with the story.

  • Socio-political issues photo essay

This is one of the most popular photo essay examples – it falls under the category of photojournalism or documental photography. They are usually thematic, although it’s also possible to do a narrative one.

Depending on your topic of interest, you can choose topics that involve nature – for example, document the effects of global warming. Another idea is to photograph protests or make an education photo essay.

It doesn’t have to be a big global issue; you can choose something specific to your community – are there too many stray dogs? Make a photo essay about a local animal shelter. The topics are endless.

  • Behind the scenes photo essay

A behind-the-scenes always make for a good photo story – people are curious to know what happens and how everything comes together before a show.

Depending on your own interests, this can be a photo essay about a fashion show, a theatre play, a concert, and so on. You’ll probably need to get some permissions, though, not only to shoot but also to showcase or publish those images.

4 Best Photo Essays in Recent times

Now that you know all the techniques about it, it might be helpful to look at some photo essay examples to see how you can put the concept into practice. Here are some famous photo essays from recent times to give you some inspiration.

Habibi by Antonio Faccilongo

This photo essay wan the World Press Photo Story of the Year in 2021. Faccilongo explores a very big conflict from a very specific and intimate point of view – how the Israeli-Palestinian war affects the families.

He chose to use a square format because it allows him to give order to things and eliminate unnecessary elements in his pictures.

With this long-term photo essay, he wanted to highlight the sense of absence and melancholy women and families feel towards their husbands away at war.

The project then became a book edited by Sarah Leen and the graphics of Ramon Pez.

photo essay of shoes

Picture This: New Orleans by Mary Ellen Mark

The last assignment before her passing, Mary Ellen Mark travelled to New Orleans to register the city after a decade after Hurricane Katrina.

The images of the project “bring to life the rebirth and resilience of the people at the heart of this tale”, – says CNNMoney, commissioner of the work.

Each survivor of the hurricane has a story, and Mary Ellen Mark was there to record it. Some of them have heartbreaking stories about everything they had to leave behind.

Others have a story of hope – like Sam and Ben, two eight-year-olds born from frozen embryos kept in a hospital that lost power supply during the hurricane, yet they managed to survive.

photo essay of shoes

Selfie by Cindy Sherman

Cindy Sherman is an American photographer whose work is mainly done through self-portraits. With them, she explores the concept of identity, gender stereotypes, as well as visual and cultural codes.

One of her latest photo essays was a collaboration with W Magazine entitled Selfie. In it, the author explores the concept of planned candid photos (‘plandid’).

The work was made for Instagram, as the platform is well known for the conflict between the ‘real self’ and the one people present online. Sherman started using Facetune, Perfect365 and YouCam to alter her appearance on selfies – in Photoshop, you can modify everything, but these apps were designed specifically to “make things prettier”- she says, and that’s what she wants to explore in this photo essay.

Tokyo Compression by Michael Wolf

Michael Wolf has an interest in the broad-gauge topic Life in Cities. From there, many photo essays have been derived – amongst them – Tokyo Compression .

He was horrified by the way people in Tokyo are forced to move to the suburbs because of the high prices of the city. Therefore, they are required to make long commutes facing 1,5 hours of train to start their 8+ hour workday followed by another 1,5 hours to get back home.

To portray this way of life, he photographed the people inside the train pressed against the windows looking exhausted, angry or simply absent due to this way of life.

You can visit his website to see other photo essays that revolve around the topic of life in megacities.

Final Words

It’s not easy to make photo essays, so don’t expect to be great at it right from your first project.

Start off small by choosing a specific subject that’s interesting to you –  that will come from an honest place, and it will be a great practice for some bigger projects along the line.

Whether you like to shoot still life or you’re a travel photographer, I hope these photo essay tips and photo essay examples can help you get started and grow in your photography.

Let us know which topics you are working on right now – we’ll love to hear from you!

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Ana Mireles is a Mexican researcher that specializes in photography and communications for the arts and culture sector.

Penelope G. To Ana Mireles Such a well written and helpful article for an writer who wants to inclue photo essay in her memoir. Thank you. I will get to work on this new skill. Penelope G.

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photo essay of shoes

What is a Photo Essay? 9 Photo Essay Examples You Can Recreate

A photo essay is a series of photographs that tell a story. Unlike a written essay, a photo essay focuses on visuals instead of words. With a photo essay, you can stretch your creative limits and explore new ways to connect with your audience. Whatever your photography skill level, you can recreate your own fun and creative photo essay.

9 Photo Essay Examples You Can Recreate

  • Photowalk Photo Essay
  • Transformation Photo Essay
  • Day in the Life Photo Essay
  • Event Photo Essay
  • Building Photo Essay
  • Historic Site or Landmark Photo Essay
  • Behind the Scenes Photo Essay
  • Family Photo Essay
  • Education Photo Essay

Stories are important to all of us. While some people gravitate to written stories, others are much more attuned to visual imagery. With a photo essay, you can tell a story without writing a word. Your use of composition, contrast, color, and perspective in photography will convey ideas and evoke emotions.

To explore narrative photography, you can use basic photographic equipment. You can buy a camera or even use your smartphone to get started. While lighting, lenses, and post-processing software can enhance your photos, they aren’t necessary to achieve good results.

Whether you need to complete a photo essay assignment or want to pursue one for fun or professional purposes, you can use these photo essay ideas for your photography inspiration . Once you know the answer to “what is a photo essay?” and find out how fun it is to create one, you’ll likely be motivated to continue your forays into photographic storytelling.

1 . Photowalk Photo Essay

One popular photo essay example is a photowalk. Simply put, a photowalk is time you set aside to walk around a city, town, or a natural site and take photos. Some cities even have photowalk tours led by professional photographers. On these tours, you can learn the basics about how to operate your camera, practice photography composition techniques, and understand how to look for unique shots that help tell your story.

Set aside at least two to three hours for your photowalk. Even if you’re photographing a familiar place—like your own home town—try to look at it through new eyes. Imagine yourself as a first-time visitor or pretend you’re trying to educate a tourist about the area.

Walk around slowly and look for different ways to capture the mood and energy of your location. If you’re in a city, capture wide shots of streets, close-ups of interesting features on buildings, street signs, and candid shots of people. Look for small details that give the city character and life. And try some new concepts—like reflection picture ideas—by looking for opportunities to photographs reflections in mirrored buildings, puddles, fountains, or bodies of water.

2 . Transformation Photo Essay

With a transformation photography essay, you can tell the story about change over time. One of the most popular photostory examples, a transformation essay can document a mom-to-be’s pregnancy or a child’s growth from infancy into the toddler years. But people don’t need to be the focus of a transformation essay. You can take photos of a house that is being built or an urban area undergoing revitalization.

You can also create a photo narrative to document a short-term change. Maybe you want to capture images of your growing garden or your move from one home to another. These examples of photo essays are powerful ways of telling the story of life’s changes—both large and small.

3 . Day in the Life Photo Essay

Want a unique way to tell a person’s story? Or, perhaps you want to introduce people to a career or activity. You may want to consider a day in the life essay.

With this photostory example, your narrative focuses on a specific subject for an entire day. For example, if you are photographing a farmer, you’ll want to arrive early in the morning and shadow the farmer as he or she performs daily tasks. Capture a mix of candid shots of the farmer at work and add landscapes and still life of equipment for added context. And if you are at a farm, don’t forget to get a few shots of the animals for added character, charm, or even a dose of humor. These types of photography essay examples are great practice if you are considering pursuing photojournalism. They also help you learn and improve your candid portrait skills.

4 . Event Photo Essay

Events are happening in your local area all the time, and they can make great photo essays. With a little research, you can quickly find many events that you could photograph. There may be bake sales, fundraisers, concerts, art shows, farm markets, block parties, and other non profit event ideas . You could also focus on a personal event, such as a birthday or graduation.

At most events, your primary emphasis will be on capturing candid photos of people in action. You can also capture backgrounds or objects to set the scene. For example, at a birthday party, you’ll want to take photos of the cake and presents.

For a local or community event, you can share your photos with the event organizer. Or, you may be able to post them on social media and tag the event sponsor. This is a great way to gain recognition and build your reputation as a talented photographer.

5. Building Photo Essay

Many buildings can be a compelling subject for a photographic essay. Always make sure that you have permission to enter and photograph the building. Once you do, look for interesting shots and angles that convey the personality, purpose, and history of the building. You may also be able to photograph the comings and goings of people that visit or work in the building during the day.

Some photographers love to explore and photograph abandoned buildings. With these types of photos, you can provide a window into the past. Definitely make sure you gain permission before entering an abandoned building and take caution since some can have unsafe elements and structures.

6. Historic Site or Landmark Photo Essay

Taking a series of photos of a historic site or landmark can be a great experience. You can learn to capture the same site from different angles to help portray its character and tell its story. And you can also photograph how people visit and engage with the site or landmark. Take photos at different times of day and in varied lighting to capture all its nuances and moods.

You can also use your photographic essay to help your audience understand the history of your chosen location. For example, if you want to provide perspective on the Civil War, a visit to a battleground can be meaningful. You can also visit a site when reenactors are present to share insight on how life used to be in days gone by.

7 . Behind the Scenes Photo Essay

Another fun essay idea is taking photos “behind the scenes” at an event. Maybe you can chronicle all the work that goes into a holiday festival from the early morning set-up to the late-night teardown. Think of the lead event planner as the main character of your story and build the story about him or her.

Or, you can go backstage at a drama production. Capture photos of actors and actresses as they transform their looks with costuming and makeup. Show the lead nervously pacing in the wings before taking center stage. Focus the work of stagehands, lighting designers, and makeup artists who never see the spotlight but bring a vital role in bringing the play to life.

8. Family Photo Essay

If you enjoy photographing people, why not explore photo story ideas about families and relationships? You can focus on interactions between two family members—such as a father and a daughter—or convey a message about a family as a whole.

Sometimes these type of photo essays can be all about the fun and joy of living in a close-knit family. But sometimes they can be powerful portraits of challenging social topics. Images of a family from another country can be a meaningful photo essay on immigration. You could also create a photo essay on depression by capturing families who are coping with one member’s illness.

For these projects on difficult topics, you may want to compose a photo essay with captions. These captions can feature quotes from family members or document your own observations. Although approaching hard topics isn’t easy, these types of photos can have lasting impact and value.

9. Education Photo Essay

Opportunities for education photo essays are everywhere—from small preschools to community colleges and universities. You can seek permission to take photos at public or private schools or even focus on alternative educational paths, like homeschooling.

Your education photo essay can take many forms. For example, you can design a photo essay of an experienced teacher at a high school. Take photos of him or her in action in the classroom, show quiet moments grading papers, and capture a shared laugh between colleagues in the teacher’s lounge.

Alternatively, you can focus on a specific subject—such as science and technology. Or aim to portray a specific grade level, document activities club or sport, or portray the social environment. A photo essay on food choices in the cafeteria can be thought-provoking or even funny. There are many potential directions to pursue and many great essay examples.

While education is an excellent topic for a photo essay for students, education can be a great source of inspiration for any photographer.

Why Should You Create a Photo Essay?

Ultimately, photographers are storytellers. Think of what a photographer does during a typical photo shoot. He or she will take a series of photos that helps convey the essence of the subject—whether that is a person, location, or inanimate object. For example, a family portrait session tells the story of a family—who they are, their personalities, and the closeness of their relationship.

Learning how to make a photo essay can help you become a better storyteller—and a better photographer. You’ll cultivate key photography skills that you can carry with you no matter where your photography journey leads.

If you simply want to document life’s moments on social media, you may find that a single picture doesn’t always tell the full story. Reviewing photo essay examples and experimenting with your own essay ideas can help you choose meaningful collections of photos to share with friends and family online.

Learning how to create photo essays can also help you work towards professional photography ambitions. You’ll often find that bloggers tell photographic stories. For example, think of cooking blogs that show you each step in making a recipe. Photo essays are also a mainstay of journalism. You’ll often find photo essays examples in many media outlets—everywhere from national magazines to local community newspapers. And the best travel photographers on Instagram tell great stories with their photos, too.

With a photo essay, you can explore many moods and emotions. Some of the best photo essays tell serious stories, but some are humorous, and others aim to evoke action.

You can raise awareness with a photo essay on racism or a photo essay on poverty. A photo essay on bullying can help change the social climate for students at a school. Or, you can document a fun day at the beach or an amusement park. You have control of the themes, photographic elements, and the story you want to tell.

5 Steps to Create a Photo Essay

Every photo essay will be different, but you can use a standard process. Following these five steps will guide you through every phase of your photo essay project—from brainstorming creative essay topics to creating a photo essay to share with others.

Step 1: Choose Your Photo Essay Topics

Just about any topic you can imagine can form the foundation for a photo essay. You may choose to focus on a specific event, such as a wedding, performance, or festival. Or you may want to cover a topic over a set span of time, such as documenting a child’s first year. You could also focus on a city or natural area across the seasons to tell a story of changing activities or landscapes.

Since the best photo essays convey meaning and emotion, choose a topic of interest. Your passion for the subject matter will shine through each photograph and touch your viewer’s hearts and minds.

Step 2: Conduct Upfront Research

Much of the work in a good-quality photo essay begins before you take your first photo. It’s always a good idea to do some research on your planned topic.

Imagine you’re going to take photos of a downtown area throughout the year. You should spend some time learning the history of the area. Talk with local residents and business owners and find out about planned events. With these insights, you’ll be able to plan ahead and be prepared to take photos that reflect the area’s unique personality and lifestyles.

For any topic you choose, gather information first. This may involve internet searches, library research, interviews, or spending time observing your subject.

Step 3: Storyboard Your Ideas

After you have done some research and have a good sense of the story you want to tell, you can create a storyboard. With a storyboard, you can write or sketch out the ideal pictures you want to capture to convey your message.

You can turn your storyboard into a “shot list” that you can bring with you on site. A shot list can be especially helpful when you are at a one-time event and want to capture specific shots for your photo essay. If you’ve never created a photo essay before, start with ten shot ideas. Think of each shot as a sentence in your story. And aim to make each shot evoke specific ideas or emotions.

Step 4: Capture Images

Your storyboard and shot list will be important guides to help you make the most of each shoot. Be sure to set aside enough time to capture all the shots you need—especially if you are photographing a one-time event. And allow yourself to explore your ideas using different photography composition, perspective, and color contrast techniques.

You may need to take a hundred images or more to get ten perfect ones for your photographic essay. Or, you may find that you want to add more photos to your story and expand your picture essay concept.

Also, remember to look for special unplanned, moments that help tell your story. Sometimes, spontaneous photos that aren’t on your shot list can be full of meaning. A mix of planning and flexibility almost always yields the best results.

Step 5: Edit and Organize Photos to Tell Your Story

After capturing your images, you can work on compiling your photo story. To create your photo essay, you will need to make decisions about which images portray your themes and messages. At times, this can mean setting aside beautiful images that aren’t a perfect fit. You can use your shot list and storyboard as a guide but be open to including photos that weren’t in your original plans.

You may want to use photo editing software—such as Adobe Lightroom or Photoshop— to enhance and change photographs. With these tools, you can adjust lighting and white balance, perform color corrections, crop, or perform other edits. If you have a signature photo editing style, you may want to use Photoshop Actions or Lightroom Presets to give all your photos a consistent look and feel.

You order a photo book from one of the best photo printing websites to publish your photo story. You can add them to an album on a photo sharing site, such as Flickr or Google Photos. Also, you could focus on building a website dedicated to documenting your concepts through visual photo essays. If so, you may want to use SEO for photographers to improve your website’s ranking in search engine results. You could even publish your photo essay on social media. Another thing to consider is whether you want to include text captures or simply tell your story through photographs.

Choose the medium that feels like the best space to share your photo essay ideas and vision with your audiences. You should think of your photo essay as your own personal form of art and expression when deciding where and how to publish it.

Photo Essays Can Help You Become a Better Photographer

Whatever your photography ambitions may be, learning to take a photo essay can help you grow. Even simple essay topics can help you gain skills and stretch your photographic limits. With a photo essay, you start to think about how a series of photographs work together to tell a complete story. You’ll consider how different shots work together, explore options for perspective and composition, and change the way you look at the world.

Before you start taking photos, you should review photo essay examples. You can find interesting pictures to analyze and photo story examples online, in books, or in classic publications, like Life Magazine . Don’t forget to look at news websites for photojournalism examples to broaden your perspective. This review process will help you in brainstorming simple essay topics for your first photo story and give you ideas for the future as well.

Ideas and inspiration for photo essay topics are everywhere. You can visit a park or go out into your own backyard to pursue a photo essay on nature. Or, you can focus on the day in the life of someone you admire with a photo essay of a teacher, fireman, or community leader. Buildings, events, families, and landmarks are all great subjects for concept essay topics. If you are feeling stuck coming up with ideas for essays, just set aside a few hours to walk around your city or town and take photos. This type of photowalk can be a great source of material.

You’ll soon find that advanced planning is critical to your success. Brainstorming topics, conducting research, creating a storyboard, and outlining a shot list can help ensure you capture the photos you need to tell your story. After you’ve finished shooting, you’ll need to decide where to house your photo essay. You may need to come up with photo album title ideas, write captions, and choose the best medium and layout.

Without question, creating a photo essay can be a valuable experience for any photographer. That’s true whether you’re an amateur completing a high school assignment or a pro looking to hone new skills. You can start small with an essay on a subject you know well and then move into conquering difficult ideas. Maybe you’ll want to create a photo essay on mental illness or a photo essay on climate change. Or maybe there’s another cause that is close to your heart.

Whatever your passion, you can bring it to life with a photo essay.

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23 Photo Essay Ideas and Examples (to Get Your Creative Juices Flowing!)

A Post By: Kevin Landwer-Johan

Ideas for compelling photo essays

Looking for inspiration? Our 23 photo essay ideas will take your photography skills to new heights!

A single, strong photograph can convey a lot of information about its subject – but sometimes we have topics that require more than one image to do the job. That’s when it’s time to make a photo essay: a collection of pictures that together tell the bigger story around a chosen theme.

In the following sections, we’ll explore various photo essay ideas and examples that cover a wide range of subjects and purposes. From capturing the growth of your children to documenting local festivals, each idea offers an exciting opportunity to tell a story through your lens, whether you’re a hobbyist or a veteran professional.

So grab your camera, unleash your creativity, and let’s delve into the wonderful world of photo essay examples!

What is a photo essay?

Simply put, a photo essay is a series of carefully selected images woven together to tell a story or convey a message. Think of it as a visual narrative that designed to capture attention and spark emotions.

Karen woman portrait

Now, these images can revolve around a broad theme or focus on a specific storyline. For instance, you might create a photo essay celebrating the joy of companionship by capturing 10 heartwarming pictures of people sharing genuine laughter. On the other hand, you could have a photo essay delving into the everyday lives of fishermen in Wales by following a single fisherman’s journey for a day or even a week.

It’s important to note that photo essays don’t necessarily have to stick to absolute truth. While some documentary photographers prefer to keep it authentic, others may employ techniques like manipulation or staging to create a more artistic impact. So there is room for creativity and interpretation.

Why you should create a photo essay

Photo essays have a way of expressing ideas and stories that words sometimes struggle to capture. They offer a visual narrative that can be incredibly powerful and impactful.

Firstly, photo essays are perfect when you have an idea or a point you want to convey, but you find yourself at a loss for words. Sometimes, emotions and concepts are better conveyed through images rather than paragraphs. So if you’re struggling to articulate a message, you can let your photos do the talking for you.

Second, if you’re interested in subjects that are highly visual, like the mesmerizing forms of architecture within a single city, photo essays are the way to go. Trying to describe the intricate details of a building or the play of light and shadows with words alone can be challenging. But through a series of captivating images, you can immerse your audience in the architecture.

And finally, if you’re aiming to evoke emotions or make a powerful statement, photo essays are outstanding. Images have an incredible ability to shock, inspire, and move people in ways that words often struggle to achieve. So if you want to raise awareness about an environmental issue or ignite a sense of empathy, a compelling series of photographs can have a profound impact.

Photo essay examples and ideas

Looking to create a photo essay but don’t know where to start? Here are some handy essay ideas and examples for inspiration!

1. A day in the life

Your first photo essay idea is simple: Track a life over the course of one day. You might make an essay about someone else’s life. Or the life of a location, such as the sidewalk outside your house. 

The subject matter you choose is up to you. But start in the morning and create a series of images showing your subject over the course of a typical day.

(Alternatively, you can document your subject on a special day, like a birthday, a wedding, or some other celebration.)

woman with a backpack getting on a train photo essay ideas

2. Capture hands

Portraits focus on a subject’s face – but why not mix it up and make a photo essay that focuses on your subject’s hands?

(You can also focus on a collection of different people’s hands.)

Hands can tell you a lot about a person. And showing them in context is a great way to narrate a story.

people on a train

3. Follow a sports team for a full season

Sports are all about emotions – both from the passionate players and the dedicated fans. While capturing the intensity of a single game can be exhilarating, imagine the power of telling the complete story of a team throughout an entire season.

For the best results, you’ll need to invest substantial time in sports photography. Choose a team that resonates with you and ensure their games are within a drivable distance. By photographing their highs and lows, celebrations and challenges, you’ll create a compelling photo essay that traces their journey from the first game to the last.

4. A child and their parent

Photographs that catch the interaction between parents and children are special. A parent-child connection is strong and unique, so making powerful images isn’t challenging. You just need to be ready to capture the special moments as they happen. 

You might concentrate on a parent teaching their child. Or the pair playing sports. Or working on a special project.

Use your imagination, and you’ll have a great time with this theme.

5. Tell a local artist’s story 

I’ve always enjoyed photographing artists as they work; studios have a creative vibe, so the energy is already there. Bring your camera into this environment and try to tell the artist’s story!

An artist’s studio offers plenty of opportunities for wonderful photo essays. Think about the most fascinating aspects of the artist’s process. What do they do that makes their art special? Aim to show this in your photos.

Many people appreciate fine art, but they’re often not aware of what happens behind the scenes. So documenting an artist can produce fascinating visual stories.

artist at work with copper

6. Show a tradesperson’s process

Do you have a plumber coming over to fix your kitchen sink? Is a builder making you a new deck?

Take photos while they work! Tell them what you want to do before you start, and don’t forget to share your photos with them.

They’ll probably appreciate seeing what they do from another perspective. They may even want to use your photos on their company website.

hot iron in crucible

7. Photograph your kids as they grow

There’s something incredibly special about documenting the growth of our little ones. Kids grow up so quickly – before you know it, they’re moving out. Why not capture the beautiful moments along the way by creating a heartwarming photo essay that showcases their growth?

There are various approaches you can take, but one idea is to capture regular photos of your kids standing in front of a distinct point of reference, such as the refrigerator. Over a year or several years, you can gather these images and place them side by side to witness your childrens’ incredible transformations.

8. Cover a local community event

A school fundraiser, a tree-planting day at a park, or a parade; these are are all community events that make for good photo essay ideas.

Think like a photojournalist . What type of images would your editor want? Make sure to capture some wide-angle compositions , some medium shots, and some close-ups.

(Getting in close to show the details can often tell as much of a story as the wider pictures.)

9. Show fresh market life

Markets are great for photography because there’s always plenty of activity and lots of characters. Think of how you can best illustrate the flow of life at the market. What are the vendors doing that’s most interesting? What are the habits of the shoppers?

Look to capture the essence of the place. Try to portray the people who work and shop there.

woman at the fresh market

10. Shoot the same location over time

What location do you visit regularly? Is there a way you can make an interesting photo essay about it?

Consider what you find most attractive and ugly about the place. Look for aspects that change over time. 

Any outdoor location will look different throughout the day. Also think about the changes that occur from season to season. Create an essay that tells the story of the place.

11. Document a local festival

Festivals infuse cities and towns with vibrant energy and unique cultural experiences. Even if your own town doesn’t have notable festivals, chances are a neighboring town does. Explore the magic of these celebrations by documenting a local festival through your lens.

Immerse yourself in the festivities, arriving early and staying late. Capture the colorful displays and the people who make the festival come alive. If the festival spans multiple days, consider focusing on different areas each time you visit to create a diverse and comprehensive photo essay that truly reflects the essence of the event.

12. Photograph a garden through the seasons

It might be your own garden . It could be the neighbor’s. It could even be the garden at your local park.

Think about how the plants change during the course of a year. Capture photos of the most significant visual differences, then present them as a photo essay.

lotus flower

13. Show your local town or city

After spending several years in a particular area, you likely possess an intimate knowledge of your local town or city. Why not utilize that familiarity to create a captivating photo essay that showcases the essence of your community?

Delve into what makes your town special, whether it’s the charming streets, unique landmarks, or the people who shape its character. Dedicate time to capturing the diverse aspects that define your locale. If you’re up for a more extensive project, consider photographing the town over the course of an entire year, capturing the changing seasons and the dynamic spirit of your community.

14. Pick a local cause to highlight

Photo essays can go beyond passive documentation; they can become a part of your activism, too!

So find a cause that matters to you. Tell the story of some aspect of community life that needs improvement. Is there an ongoing issue with litter in your area? How about traffic; is there a problematic intersection?

Document these issues, then make sure to show the photos to people responsible for taking action.

15. Making a meal

Photo essay ideas can be about simple, everyday things – like making a meal or a coffee.

How can you creatively illustrate something that seems so mundane? My guess is that, when you put your mind to it, you can come up with many unique perspectives, all of which will make great stories.

plate of Thai curry photo essay ideas

16. Capture the life of a flower

In our fast-paced lives, it’s easy to overlook the beauty that surrounds us. Flowers, with their mesmerizing colors and rapid life cycles, offer a captivating subject for a photo essay. Try to slow down and appreciate the intricate details of a flower’s existence.

With a macro lens in hand, document a single flower or a patch of flowers from their initial shoots to their inevitable wilting and decomposition. Experiment with different angles and perspectives to bring viewers into the enchanting world of the flower. By freezing these fleeting moments, you’ll create a visual narrative that celebrates the cycle of life and the exquisite beauty found in nature’s delicate creations.

17. Religious traditions

Religion is often rich with visual expression in one form or another. So capture it!

Of course, you may need to narrow down your ideas and choose a specific aspect of worship to photograph. Aim to show what people do when they visit a holy place, or how they pray on their own. Illustrate what makes their faith real and what’s special about it.

photo essay idea monks walking

18. Historic sites

Historic sites are often iconic, and plenty of photographers take a snapshot or two.

But with a photo essay, you can illustrate the site’s history in greater depth.

Look for details of the location that many visitors miss. And use these to build an interesting story.

19. Show the construction of a building

Ever been away from a familiar place for a while only to return and find that things have changed? It happens all the time, especially in areas undergoing constant development. So why not grab your camera and document this transformation?

Here’s the idea: Find a building that’s currently under construction in your area. It could be a towering skyscraper, a modern office complex, or even a small-scale residential project. Whatever catches your eye! Then let the magic of photography unfold.

Make it a habit to take a photo every day or two. Watch as the building gradually takes shape and evolves. Capture the construction workers in action, the cranes reaching for the sky, and the scaffolding supporting the structure.

Once the building is complete, you’ll have a treasure trove of images that chronicle its construction from start to finish!

20. Document the changing skyline of the city

This photo essay example is like the previous one, except it works on a much larger scale. Instead of photographing a single building as it’s built, find a nice vantage point outside your nearest city, then photograph the changing skyline.

To create a remarkable photo essay showcasing the changing skyline, you’ll need to scout out the perfect vantage point. Seek high ground that offers a commanding view of the city, allowing you to frame the skyline against the horizon. Look for spots that give you an unobstructed perspective, whether a rooftop terrace, a hillside park, or even a nearby bridge.

As you set out on your photography expedition, be patient and observant. Cities don’t transform overnight; they change gradually over time. Embrace the passage of days, weeks, and months as you witness the slow evolution unfold.

Pro tip: To capture the essence of this transformation, experiment with various photographic techniques. Play with different angles, framing, and compositions to convey the grandeur and dynamism of the changing skyline. Plus, try shooting during the golden hours of sunrise and sunset , when the soft light bathes the city in a warm glow and accentuates the architectural details.

21. Photograph your pet

If you’re a pet owner, you already have the perfect subject for a photo essay!

All pets , with the possible exception of pet rocks, will provide you with a collection of interesting moments to photograph.

So collect these moments with your camera – then display them as a photo essay showing the nature and character of your pet.

Woman and elephant

22. Tell the story of a local nature preserve

Ah, the wonders of a local nature preserve! While it may not boast the grandeur of Yosemite National Park, these hidden gems hold their own beauty, just waiting to be discovered and captured through the lens of your camera.

To embark on this type of photo essay adventure, start by exploring all the nooks and crannies of your chosen nature preserve. Wander along its winding trails, keeping an eye out for unique and captivating subjects that convey the essence of the preserve.

As you go along, try to photograph the intricate details of delicate wildflowers, the interplay of light filtering through a dense forest canopy, and the lively activities of birds and other wildlife.

23. Show the same subject from multiple perspectives

It’s possible to create an entire photo essay in a single afternoon – or even in a handful of minutes. If you don’t love the idea of dedicating yourself to days of photographing for a single essay, this is a great option.

Simply find a subject you like, then endeavor to capture 10 unique images that include it. I’d recommend photographing from different angles: up above, down low, from the right and left. You can also try getting experimental with creative techniques, such as intentional camera movement and freelensing. If all goes well, you’ll have a very cool set of images featuring one of your favorite subjects!

By showcasing the same subject from multiple perspectives, you invite viewers on a visual journey. They get to see different facets, textures, and details that they might have overlooked in a single photograph. It adds depth and richness to your photo essay, making it both immersive and dynamic.

Photo essay ideas: final words

Remember: Photo essays are all about communicating a concept or a story through images rather than words. So embrace the process and use images to express yourself!

Whether you choose to follow a sports team through a thrilling season, document the growth of your little ones, or explore the hidden treasures of your local town, each photo essay has its own magic waiting to be unlocked. It’s a chance to explore your creativity and create images in your own style.

So look at the world around you. Grab your gear and venture out into the wild. Embrace the beauty of nature, the energy of a bustling city, or the quiet moments that make life special. Consider what you see every day. What aspects interest you the most? Photograph those things.

You’re bound to end up with some amazing photo essays!

Now over to you:

Do you have any photo essay examples you’re proud of? Do you have any more photo essay ideas? Share your thoughts and images in the comments below!

23 Photo Essay Ideas and Examples (to Get Your Creative Juices Flowing!)

Read more from our Tips & Tutorials category

Kevin Landwer-Johan

Kevin Landwer-Johan is a photographer, photography teacher, and author with over 30 years of experience that he loves to share with others.

Check out his website and his Buy Me a Coffee page .

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How to Create a Photo Essay in 9 Steps (with Examples)

Photo Editing , Tutorials

Great blue heron standing in shallow water with a reflection and vegetation in the background.

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What is a photo essay?

  • Photo essays vs photo stories
  • How photo essays help you
  • 9 Steps to create photo essays

How to share your photo essays

Read Time: 11 minutes

Gather up a handful of images that seem to go together, and voila! It’s a photo essay, right? Well… no. Though, this is a common misconception.

In reality, a photo essay is much more thoughtful and structured than that. When you take the time to craft one, you’re using skills from all facets of our craft – from composition to curation.

In this guide, you’ll learn what makes a photo essay an amazing project that stretches your skills. You’ll also learn exactly how to make one step by step.

  • Photo essay vs photo story

A photo essay is a collection of images based around a theme, a topic, a creative approach, or an exploration of an idea. Photo essays balance visual variety with a cohesive style and concept.

What’s the difference between a photo essay and a photo story?

The terms photo essay and photo story are often used interchangeably. Even the dictionary definition of “photo essay” includes using images to convey either a theme or a story.

But in my experience, a photo essay and a photo story are two different things. As you delve into the field of visual storytelling, distinguishing between the two helps you to take a purposeful approach to what you’re making .

The differences ultimately lie in the distinctions between theme, topic and story.

Themes are big-picture concepts. Example: Wildness

Topics are more specific than themes, but still overarching. Example : Wild bears of Yellowstone National Park

Stories are specific instances or experiences that happen within, or provide an example for, a topic or theme. Example: A certain wild bear became habituated to tourists and was relocated to maintain its wildness

Unlike a theme or topic, a story has particular elements that make it a story. They include leading characters, a setting, a narrative arc, conflict, and (usually) resolution.

With that in mind, we can distingush between a photo essay and a photo story.

Themes and Topics vs Stories

A photo essay revolves around a topic, theme, idea, or concept. It visually explores a big-picture something .

This allows a good deal of artistic leeway where a photographer can express their vision, philosophies, opinions, or artistic expression as they create their images.

A photo story  is a portfolio of images that illustrate – you guessed it – a story.

Because of this, there are distinct types of images that a photo story uses that add to the understanding, insight, clarity and meaning to the story for viewers. While they can certainly be artistically crafted and visually stunning, photo stories document something happening, and rely on visual variety for capturing the full experience.

A photo essay doesn’t need to have the same level of structured variety that a photo story requires. It can have images that overlap or are similar, as they each explore various aspects of a theme.

An urban coyote walks across a road near an apartment building

Photo essays can be about any topic. If you live in a city, consider using your nature photography to make an essay about the wildlife that lives in your neighborhood . 

The role of text with photos

A photo story typically runs alongside text that narrates the story. We’re a visual species, and the images help us feel like we are there, experiencing what’s happening. So, the images add significant power to the text, but they’re often a partner to it.

This isn’t always the case, of course. Sometimes photo stories don’t need or use text. It’s like reading a graphic novel that doesn’t use text. Moving through the different images that build on each other ultimately unveils the narrative.

Photo essays don’t need to rely on text to illuminate the images’ theme or topic. The photographer may use captions (or even a text essay), or they may let the images speak for themselves.

Definitions are helpful guidelines (not strict rules)

Some people categorize photo essays as either narrative or thematic. That’s essentially just calling photo stories “narrative photo essays” and photo essays “thematic photo essays.”

But, a story is a defined thing, and any writer/editor will tell you themes and topics are not the same as stories. And we use the word “story” in our daily lives as it’s defined. So, it makes far more sense to name the difference between a photo essay and a photo story, and bask in the same clarity writers enjoy .

Photo stories illustrate a particular experience, event, narrative, something that happened or is happening.

Photo essays explore an idea, concept, topic, theme, creative approach, big-picture something .

Both photo essays and photo stories are immensely powerful visual tools. And yes, the differences between them can certainly be blurred, as is always the case with art.

Simply use this distinction as a general guideline, providing extra clarity around what you’re making and why you’re making it.

To dig into specific types of images used to create powerful photo stories, check out this training: 6 Must-Have Shots for a Photo Story. 

Meanwhile, let’s dig deeper into photo essays.

A sea nettle jellyfish floats alone on a white surface

Photo essays are a chance to try new styles or techniques that stretch your skills and creativity. This image was part of an essay exploring simplicity and shape, and helped me learn new skills in black and white post-processing.

How photo essays improve your photography

Creating photo essays is an amazing antidote if you’ve ever felt a lack of direction or purpose in your photography. Photo essays help build your photographic skills in at least 3 important ways.

1. You become more strategic in creating a body of work

It’s easy to get stuck in a rut of photographing whatever pops up in front of you. And when you do, you end up with a collection of stand-alone shots.

These singles may work fine as a print, a quick Instagram post, or an addition to your gallery of shots on your website. But amassing a bunch of one-off shots limits your opportunities as a photographer for everything from exhibits to getting your work published.

Building photo essays pushes you to think strategically about what you photograph, why, and how. You’re working toward a particular deliverable – a cohesive visual essay – with the images you create.

This elevates your skills in crafting your photo essay, and in how you curate the rest of your work, from galleries on your website to selecting images to sell as prints .

2. You become more purposeful in your composition skills

Composition is so much more than just following the rule of thirds, golden spirals, or thinking about the angle of light in a shot.

Composition is also about thinking ahead in what you’re trying to accomplish with a photograph – from what you’re saying through it to its emotional impact on a viewer – and where it fits within a larger body of work.

Photo essays push you to think critically about each shot – from coming up with fresh compositions for familiar subjects, to devising surprising compositions to fit within a collection, to creating compositions that expand on what’s already in a photo essay.

You’re pushed beyond creating a single pleasing frame, which leads you to shoot more thoughtfully and proactively than ever.

(Here’s a podcast episode on switching from reactive shooting to proactive shooting .)

3. You develop strong editing and curation skills

Selecting which images stay, and which get left behind is one of the hardest jobs on a photographer’s to-do list. Mostly, it’s because of emotional attachment.

You might think it’s an amazing shot because you know the effort that went into capturing it. Or perhaps when you look at it, you get a twinge of the joy or exhilaration you felt the moment you captured it. There’s also the second-guessing that goes into which of two similar images is the best – which will people like more? So you’re tempted to just show both.

Ultimately, great photographers appear all the more skilled because they only show their best work. That in and of itself is a skill they’ve developed through years of ruthlessly editing their own work.

Because the most powerful photo essays only show a handful of extraordinary images, you’re bound to develop the very same critical skill (and look all the more talented because of it).

Photo essays are also a great stepping stone to creating photo stories. If you’re interested in moving beyond stand-alone shots and building stories, shooting photo essays will get your creative brain limbered up and ready for the adventure of photo stories.

An american dipper looks into the water of a stream on a cold morning

A photo essay exploring the natural history of a favorite species is an exciting opportunity for an in-depth study. For me, that was a photo essay on emotive images of the American dipper (Cinclus mexicanus) as it hunts in streams. 

9 Simple steps to create your photo essays

1. clarify your theme.

Choose a theme, topic, or concept you want to explore. Spend some time getting crystal clear on what you want to focus on. It helps to write out a few sentences, or even a few paragraphs noting:

  • What you want the essay to be about
  • What kinds of images you want to create as part of it
  • How you’ll photograph the images
  • The style, techniques, or gear you might use to create your images
  • What “success” looks like when you’re done with your photo essay

You don’t have to stick to what you write down, of course. It can change during the image creation process. But fleshing your idea out on paper goes a long way in clarifying your photo essay theme and how you’ll go about creating it.

2. Create your images

Grab your camera and head outside!

As you’re photographing your essay, allow yourself some freedom to experiment. Try unusual compositions or techniques that are new to you.

Stretch your style a little, or “try on” the style of other photographers you admire who have photographed similar subjects.

Photo essays are wonderful opportunities to push yourself outside of your comfort zone and grow as a photographer.

Remember that a photo essay is a visually cohesive collection of images that make sense together. So, while you might stretch yourself into new terrain as you shoot, try to keep that approach, style, or strategy consistent.

Don’t be afraid to create lots of images. It’s great to have lots to choose from in the editing process, which comes up next.

3. Pull together your wide edit

Once you’ve created your images, pull together all the images that might make the cut. This could be as many as 40-60 images. Include anything you want to consider for the final essay in the wide edit.

From here, start weeding out images that:

  • are weaker in composition or subject matter
  • stand out like a sore thumb from the rest of the collection
  • Are similar to other stronger images in the collection

It’s helpful to review the images at thumbnail size. You make more instinctive decisions and can more easily see the body of work as a whole. If an image is strong even at thumbnail size to stand out from similar frames while also partnering well with other images in the collection, that’s a good sign it’s strong enough for the essay.

4. Post-process your images for a cohesive look

Now it’s time to post-process the images. Use whatever editing software you’re comfortable with to polish your images.

Again, a photo essay has a cohesive visual look. If you use presets, filters, or other tools, use them across all the images.

5. Finalize your selection

It’s time to make the tough decisions. Select only the strongest for your photo essay from your group of images.

Each image should be strong enough to stand on its own and make sense as part of the whole group.

Many photo essays range from 8-12 images. But of course, it varies based on the essay. The number of images you have in your final photo essay is up to you.

Remember, less is more. A photo essay is most powerful when each image deserves to be included.

6. Put your images in a purposeful order

Create a visual flow with your images. Decide which image is first, and build from there. Use compositions, colors, and subject matter to decide which image goes next, then next, then next in the order.

Think of it like music: notes are arranged in a way that builds energy, or slows it down, surprise listeners with a new refrain, or drop into a familiar chorus. How the notes are ordered creates emotional arcs for listeners.

How you order your images is similar.

Think of the experience a viewer will have as they look at one image, then the next, and the next. Order your images so they create the experience you want your audience to have.

7. Get feedback

The best photographers make space for feedback, even when it’s tough to hear. Your work benefits from not just hearing feedback, but listening to it and applying what you learn from it.

Show your photo essay to people who have different sensibilities or tastes. Friends, family members, fellow photographers – anyone you trust to give you honest feedback.

Watch their reactions and hear what they say about what they’re seeing. Use their feedback to guide you in the next step.

8. Refine, revise, and finalize

Let your photo essay marinate for a little while. Take a day or two away from it. Then use your freshened eyes and the feedback you received from the previous step to refine your essay.

Swap out any selects you might want to change and reorder the images if needed.

9. Add captions

Even if you don’t plan on displaying captions with your images, captioning your images is a great practice to get into. It gives context, story, and important information to each image. And, more than likely, you will want to use these captions at some point when you share your photo essay, which we dive into later in this article.

Add captions to the image files using Lightroom, Bridge, or other software programs.

Create a document, such as a Google or Word doc, with captions for each image.

In your captions, share a bit about the story behind the image, or the creation process. Add whatever makes sense to share that provides a greater understanding of the image and its purpose.

Two rocks sit near each other on a wind-blown beach with long lines of texture in the sand

Photo essays allow you to explore deliberate style choices, such as a focus on shapes, patterns, textures, and lines. Since each photo is part of a larger essay, it encourages you to be bold with choices you might not otherwise make. 

5 Examples of amazing nature photo essays

1. “how the water shapes us” from the nature conservancy.

Screenshot of the landing page of photo essay how the water shapes us from nature conservancy

This gorgeous essay, crafted with the work of multiple photographers, explores the people and places within the Mississippi River basin. Through the images, we gain a sense of how the water influences life from the headwater all the way to the Gulf of Mexico. Notice how each photographer is tasked with the same theme, yet approaches it with their own distinct style and vision. It is a wonderful example of the sheer level of visual variety you can have while maintaining a consistent style or theme.

View it here

2. “A Cyclist on the English Landscape” from New York Times’ The World Through A Lens series

Screenshot of the landing page of photo essay a cyclist on the english landscape from new york times

This photo essay is a series of self-portraits by travel photographer Roff Smith while “stuck” at home during the pandemic. As he peddled the roads making portraits, the project evolved into a “celebration of traveling at home”. It’s a great example of how visually consistent you can be inside a theme while making each image completely unique.

3. “Vermont, Dressed In Snow” from New York Times’ The World Through A Lens series

Screenshot of the landing page of photo essay vermont, dressed in snow from new york times

This essay by aerial photographer Caleb Kenna uses a very common photo essay theme: snow. Because all images are aerial photographs, there’s a consistency to them. Yet, the compositions are utterly unique from one another. It’s a great example of keeping viewers surprised as they move from one image to the next while still maintaining a clear focus on the theme.

4. “Starling-Studded Skies” from bioGraphic Magazine

Screenshot of the landing page of photo essay starling-studded-skies from biographic magazine

This beautiful essay is by Kathryn Cooper, a physicist trained in bioinformatics, and a talented photographer. She used a 19th century photographic technique, chronophotography, to create images that give us a look at the art and science of starling murmurations. She states: “I’m interested in the transient moments when chaos briefly changes to order, and thousands of individual bodies appear to move as one.” This essay is a great example of deep exploration of a concept using a specific photographic technique.

View it here   (Note: must be viewed on desktop)

5. “These Scrappy Photos Capture the Action-Packed World Beneath a Bird Feeder” from Audubon Magazine

Screenshot of the landing page of photo essay by carla rhodes from audubon online

This photo essay from conservation photographer Carla Rhodes explores the wildlife that takes advantage of the bounty of food waiting under bird feeders . Using remote camera photography , Rhodes gives viewers a unique ground-level perspective and captures moments that make us feel like we’re in conversation with friends in the Hundred Acre Woods. This essay is a great example of how perspective, personality, and chance can all come into play as you explore both an idea and a technique.

25 Ideas for creative photo essays you can make

The possibilities for photo essays are truly endless – from the concepts you explore to the techniques you use and styles you apply.

Choose an idea, hone your unique perspective on it, then start applying the 9 simple steps from above. 

  • The life of a plant or animal (your favorite species, a species living in your yard, etc)
  • The many shapes of a single species (a tree species, a bird species, etc)
  • How a place changes over time
  • The various moods of a place
  • A conservation issue you care about
  • Math in nature
  • Urban nature
  • Seasonal changes
  • Your yard as a space for nature
  • Shifting climate and its impacts
  • Human impacts on environments
  • Elements: Water, wind, fire, earth
  • Day in the life (of a person, a place, a stream, a tree…)
  • Outdoor recreation (birding, kayaking, hiking, naturalist journaling…)
  • Wildlife rehabilitation
  • Lunar cycles
  • Sunlight and shadows
  • Your local watershed
  • Coexistence

A pacific wren sings from a branch in a sun dappled forest

As you zero in on a photo essay theme, consider two things: what most excites you about an idea, and what about it pushes you out of your comfort zone. The heady mix of joy and challenge will ensure you stick with it. 

Your photo essay is ready for the world! Decide how you’d like to make an impact with your work. You might use one or several of the options below.

1. Share it on your website

Create a gallery or a scrollytelling page on your website. This is a great way to drive traffic to your website where people can peruse your photo essay and the rest of the photography you have.

Putting it on your website and optimizing your images for SEO helps you build organic traffic and potentially be discovered by a broader audience, including photo editors.

2. Create a scrollytelling web page

If you enjoy the experience of immersive visual experiences, consider making one using your essay. And no, you don’t have to be a whiz at code to make it happen.

Shorthand helps you build web pages with scrollytelling techniques that make a big impression on viewers. Their free plan allows you to publish 3 essays or stories.

3. Create a Medium post

If you don’t have a website and want to keep things simple, a post on Medium is a great option.

Though it’s known for being a platform for bloggers, it’s also possible to add images to a post for a simple scroll.

And, because readers can discover and share posts, it’s a good place for your photos to get the attention of people who might not otherwise come across it.

4. Share it on Instagram

Instagram has changed a lot over the last couple of years, but it’s still a place for photographers to share their work thoughtfully.

There are at least 3 great ways to share your photo essay on the platform.

– Create a single post for each image. Add a caption. Publish one post per day until the full essay is on your feed. Share each post via Instagram Stories to bring more attention and interaction to your photo essay.

– Create a carousel post. You can add up 10 photos to a carousel post, so you may need to create two of them for your full photo essay. Or you might create a series of carousel posts using 3-4 images in each.

– Create a Reel featuring your images as a video.  The algorithm heavily favors reels, so turning your photo essay into a video experience can get it out to a larger audience.

I ran a “create a reel” challenge in my membership community. One member created a reel with her still images around a serious conservation issue. It gathered a ton of attention and landed her opportunities to share her message through YouTube and podcast interviews and publishing opportunities. Watch it here.

5. Exhibit it locally

Reach out to local galleries, cafes, pubs, or even the public library to see if they’re interested in hanging your photo essay for display. Many local businesses and organizations happily support the work of local artists.

6. Pitch your photo essay to publications

One of the best ways to reach an audience with your work is to get it published. Find publications that are a great fit for the theme and style of your photo essay, then pitch your essay for consideration. You gain a fantastic opportunity to share your work widely and can earn a paycheck at the same time.

Remember that if you want to get your photo essay published, you may want to hold back from sharing it publicly before you pitch it to publications.

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Stepping into Style with Obie Shoes: A Photo Essay

Dlisah Lapidus , Arts & Culture Editor | December 2, 2022

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Oberlin is an undeniably stylish place. Through clothing, students visually reflect the vibrant character of the campus.  

Fashion and personal style is not solely expressed through shirts, pants, and outerwear. Arguably, the most important component of one’s outfit is what grounds them: shoes! All across the world, shoe culture takes a number of different forms and styles. Oberlin, a microcosm filled with students from various places, is no different. From sneakers to Chelsea boots to a good old pair of Dr. Martens, Oberlin students wear their personalities on their feet.  

“Statement shoes feel a bit more unique, in a way, than other clothing,” College first-year Eloise Rich said. “[Shoes are] so practical, something that you just can’t leave the house without, and they can also be very fashionable. Still, sometimes I just throw on my Mary Janes and call it a day.”

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Photo Essay: Shoes on campus

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Sneakerheads, lovers of those red bottom shoes, chaco-holics. You can learn a lot about somebody from the shoes they wear.  Yes, shoes protect our feet from the elements, saving us from scrapes and bruises. But shoes aren’t just practical; shoes are a form of self expression and a celebration of fashion.

The students at U of M take their shoes very seriously. Whether they’re hurrying to class in a pair of Nike Air Force 1s or chilling on the Diag in a pair of Chacos, Michigan students take pride in their shoes.

photo essay of shoes

When I set out to photograph the shoes of students, I expected sneakers to be the most popular shoe. As one might expect, athletic shoes are students’ go-to for physical activity and exercise. “I got my sneakers in Miami because I wanted to go on a run and I forgot my running shoes at home,” School of Information Sophomore Annabelle Phillips said.

photo essay of shoes

While athletic shoes are designed to give you adequate comfort and support during exercise, they have also revolutionized the fashion industry. Converse were originally released as a basketball shoe in 1917, but have since become a staple fashion item.  “These are the Earth Day shoes by Converse that dropped on Earth Day,” School of Public Health Senior Mariyah Kapuswal said.

At Ross, MBA student Becky Epstein was showing off her bubble-gum pink high tops. “These shoes are really special to me! I really like basketball shoes and I feel my best when I am wearing them,” Epstein said.

photo essay of shoes

Shoes allow individuals to show off their personalities. “These have bees on them with flowers. I thought they were really pretty,” Ross Freshman Daniel Newbold said. The fun design adds a splash of personality to the everyday sneaker.

Furthermore, shoes allow individuals to be a part of subcultures and identities. “These are a great way to rep Michigan maize and blue,” SMTD and LSA Senior Jackson Roth said. His Nike Dunk Lows ‘Michigan’ make him feel like a Michigan Wolverine.

photo essay of shoes

Talking about shoes would not be complete without addressing fashion and trends. Footwear can make or break one’s outfit, and students go to great lengths to style their shoes. “These are the most painful shoes to break in of any shoes I’ve ever owned,” Third year Law student Alora Fleenary said. Sometimes, fashion comes before practicality.

photo essay of shoes

Many students go for timeless and established aesthetics. From what I’ve observed, the most commonly worn brand by students was Nike, which offers a classic and clean look that can be paired with any outfit. 

photo essay of shoes

You can find just about any brand and style of shoe on campus. Shoes are not just a way to keep our feet safe; they are also a means of self-expression.

Just look down and see for yourself what the shoes of students on campus are telling you.

Staff Photographer José Brenes can be reached at [email protected].

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Shoes in the City A photo essay on shoes. By Karin Wami.

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Shoes in the City A photo essay on shoes. By Karin Wami

The importance of fashion

photo essay of shoes

What are these? How many pairs of shoes do you have at home? Where can we buy some new shoes? Can you try to describe the above shoes?

photo essay of shoes

Beth went to the shoe store. Beth went to the shoe store.

photo essay of shoes

Coach Wylie, Coach Harvey &

photo essay of shoes

High heel Ballet flats Cd shoes Crocs Gumboots Running shoes Feet shoes Boots Jandels.

photo essay of shoes

A new Life Compiled by Vivian Lessons for The greatest wisdom is Kindness.

photo essay of shoes

TIGER, INC. PROFESSIONAL DRESS

photo essay of shoes

Teenage fashion in Finland

photo essay of shoes

What is a dichotomous key? A road map to identifying an object! For example… SHOES Athletic? No Spikes on the bottom? Open toe?Above the ankle? High heel?

photo essay of shoes

EECERA 2007 Prague Research with children Pernille Hviid University of Copenhagen.

photo essay of shoes

Building a Body Paragraph. What does a body paragraph start with? A. A transition word and thesis statement B. A topic sentence C. A transition word and.

photo essay of shoes

In accordance with the Katy ISD dress code as well as the elementary handbook, the following information does apply. It is for your safety and comfort.

photo essay of shoes

Apostrophes Spelling. We are learning to: Use apostrophes correctly.

photo essay of shoes

Shoes, shoes, shoes Anatomy of a shoe What kind of shoe do you like?What kind of shoe do you like? I love shoes! Shoes, Shoes, Shoes! Movie about shoes.

photo essay of shoes

The Five-Paragraph Essay

photo essay of shoes

HIP-HOP FASHIONS What kinds of clothing styles do like to wear? What kinds of clothing styles do like to wear? Do you like to “dress up” or “dress down”?

photo essay of shoes

Presentation by Jenna Riley CMAT Practicum student.

photo essay of shoes

The Must-haves. The classic pump is a must have for every woman! Black or nude will work well with any number of colour combinations.

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Danie Buhlinger Danielle Marshal. Globalization Toms are a canvas or cotton fabric shoes with a rubber sole for the bottom. Toms are a very comfortable.

photo essay of shoes

April Dain LI804XO Organization of Information Spring 2012 Presentation.

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Photo Essay: Shoes on campus

Jacob Rice , Visual Editor September 15, 2022

The Iowa State Daily talked to the community about their shoes. Directly inspired by The Michigan Daily’s photo essay of the same name, r eporters stood outside of Parks Library on Aug. 29 asking the passing students and faculty, “What’s the story behind your shoes?” A simple question met with a variety of unique responses. 

photo essay of shoes

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Photo Essay: Empty shoes

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Community members, local activists and interfaith leaders congregated at Palo Alto City Hall on April 21 to hold a vigil, mourning the more than 15,000 Palestinian children killed in the Israeli siege on Gaza since Oct. 7. The vigil’s organizers asked attendees to bring articles of children’s clothing representing the lives lost, as well as pots, pans and bowls to help raise awareness of the ongoing famine in Gaza. The event featured speakers from local activist groups including the Bay Area chapters of the Council on American-Islamic Relations and Jewish Voice for Peace, the Raging Grannies and No Tech for Apartheid, as well as Palestinian American community members. Noor Bilbeisi, a pediatric dentist practicing in Palo Alto, spoke on the stress and trauma Palestinian children endure. “Every day, for the last six months, children in Gaza have been terrorized by the unimaginable booming sounds of bombs, drones and sirens,” Bilbeisi said. “And every day, these children are separated from their families and their parents.” Following the speakers, protesters took a short break for midday prayer before embarking on a march from city hall along University Avenue which was accompanied by drummers. The event’s primary organizer, Vigil4Gaza, holds regular gatherings every Sunday evening at Palo Alto’s Town and Country shopping center and is present at Stanford University’s ongoing Gaza solidarity encampment.

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Micheline Rosmann in the Porto Alegre river before the flooding, taken on June 12, 2023.

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Melancholia: This Fashion Photo Essay Tells the Story of a Bittersweet Mood via Pictures

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Photo: Filip Koludrovic

What does melancholia look like? In a special new shoot captured in the lens of Filip Koludrovic, we join a young girl named Maria as she revisits all the places that hold a special place in her heart. Dressed in a series of moody layers and rich fabrics, Maria takes us on a journey through a cold rainy day, where the moods she experiences are reflected in her attire.

With its artfully captured snapshots, the fashion editorial conveys an important message: that melancholia does not represent a negative emotion, but one that is haunting, bittersweet, and beautiful. Koludrovic’s use of lighting, paired with the model’s body language and a selection of ebony and white ensembles convey the emotion in a way words simple can’t. While Balenciaga’s pussybow coat and Valentino’s cosy jumper bring forth sweet memories, a sharp, all-black Alberta Ferretti pantsuit—worn with an equally striking hat—brings an element of realism into the frame.

Jumping between shades of grey, icy blues and lush greens that evoke thoughts of renewal and rebirth, Melancholia pieces together a dream-like narrative, harkening us back to better times in a world of chaos. It is this very oscillation between the photography techniques that make the editorial so distinctive. A seemingly desolate emotion jumps through with an aura of hope, almost contradicting the very emotion’s purpose. Dive in for a taste.

photo essay of shoes

Dress, Bottega Veneta. Photo: Filip Koludrovic

photo essay of shoes

Shirt, skirt and jumper, Valentino. Photo: Filip Koludrovic

photo essay of shoes

Coat, Balenciaga. Leather boots, Paris Texas. Photo: Filip Koludrovic

photo essay of shoes

Leather suit, wool shirt and leather skirt by Alexander McQueen. Boots, Ann Demeulemeester. Photo: Filip Koludrovic

photo essay of shoes

Leather jacket, Mackage. Photo: Filip Koludrovic

photo essay of shoes

Coat, Nour Hammour. Gloves, Jil Sander. Photo: Filip Koludrovic

photo essay of shoes

Gloves, Jil Sander. Photo: Filip Koludrovic

photo essay of shoes

Hat, suit, and trousers, Alberta Ferretti. Photo: Filip Koludrovic

photo essay of shoes

Suit, pants and coat, Alexander Vauthier. Shoes, Converse. Photo: Filip Koludrovic

photo essay of shoes

Suit, pants and coat, Alexander Vauthier. Photo: Filip Koludrovic

photo essay of shoes

Photography: Filip Koludrovic Stylist: Giuditta Goffredo Model: Maria Sillandi Production: Federica Fragnoli Casting: Giulia Masini

Read Next: 35 of the Most Vibrant Street Style Photos From New York Fashion Week Fall 2022

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Meghan Markle’s Engagement Ring Tops the List with the Most Searches in the World

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Photo essay: Hundreds of shoes, thousands of souls

Content warning: This article describes the trauma inflicted upon Indigenous children in the residential school system and contains details and images that some viewers may find distressing.

Hundreds of children’s belongings line the steps of the Vancouver Art Gallery to honour the thousands of Indigenous children recently discovered in unmarked graves at the sites of former residential schools across Canada.

photo essay of shoes

Each pair of shoes represents a missing Indigenous child who never made it home.

photo essay of shoes

Visitors have gathered to pay their respects by reflecting on the memorial, writing messages in a guest book, signing online petitions and painting a banner with orange handprints in solidarity with the victims.

photo essay of shoes

Well over one thousand unmarked children’s graves have been discovered since late May 2021, beginning with the 215 found at the site of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School in BC.

The latest discoveries include 182 graves found outside Cranbrook, BC by members of the ʔaq'am band of the Ktunaxa Nation on Thursday, June 24, and 751 more outside Regina, SK by the Cowessess First Nation on Friday, June 25.

However, it is estimated that thousands more graves have yet to be found.

photo essay of shoes

The residential school system was established by the Canadian government in the 1880s and overseen by the Catholic Church for over a century until the last school was closed in 1997 — a mere 24 years ago.

photo essay of shoes

The purpose of the system was to “kill the Indian in the child” by forcibly removing Indigenous children from their homes and institutionalizing them in residential schools where they suffered abuse, trauma and death in the name of cultural assimilation.

photo essay of shoes

A protest is being held at the Vancouver Art Gallery today, July 1, to denounce the celebration of Canada Day and instead confront the holiday’s roots in colonial genocide — exemplified by the residential school system.

The National Indian Residential School Crisis line provides 24/7 support to residential school survivors and others who may need it: 1-866-925-4419.

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Essay on Shoes

Students are often asked to write an essay on Shoes in their schools and colleges. And if you’re also looking for the same, we have created 100-word, 250-word, and 500-word essays on the topic.

Let’s take a look…

100 Words Essay on Shoes

The importance of shoes.

Shoes are a vital part of our everyday life. We wear them to protect our feet from harm and keep them clean. They also provide comfort when we walk, run, or stand.

Types of Shoes

There are many types of shoes. Some are for specific activities like running shoes for athletes, and ballet shoes for dancers. Others are for fashion, like high heels and boots.

Shoes and Culture

Shoes also reflect our culture and personality. For instance, traditional shoes like Japanese geta or Indian juttis represent their respective cultures.

In conclusion, shoes are more than just foot coverings. They serve many purposes and express who we are.

Also check:

  • Paragraph on Shoes

250 Words Essay on Shoes

The evolution of shoes.

Shoes, an essential element of human attire, have evolved significantly over the centuries. Originally, they were designed to protect feet from harsh environmental conditions. However, their function has transformed into a symbol of style, status, and identity.

Functional and Symbolic Importance

Shoes are not just about protection and comfort anymore; they have become a cultural artifact. They serve as a reflection of the wearer’s personality and social status. For example, high heels, initially worn by men in the 15th century for horse riding, have now become a symbol of femininity and power.

The Impact of Technology

Technological innovations have revolutionized the shoe industry. Modern materials and production methods have enabled the creation of specialized footwear for various activities such as sports, hiking, and dancing. Smart shoes equipped with sensors and connectivity features are the latest trends, blurring the lines between fashion and technology.

Sustainability in Footwear

With increased awareness about environmental issues, sustainable practices in shoe manufacturing have gained momentum. Companies are now focusing on using recycled materials and reducing their carbon footprint, paving the way for a more sustainable future in the footwear industry.

In conclusion, shoes have come a long way from being mere foot protectors to becoming a significant part of our cultural and personal identity. As they continue to evolve, they will undoubtedly serve as a testament to human creativity, innovation, and our commitment to sustainability.

500 Words Essay on Shoes

Shoes, an integral part of our daily attire, have evolved dramatically over the centuries. Initially, they were merely practical items, designed to protect the feet from harsh terrains and climate conditions. Today, they are essential fashion elements, reflecting individual style and societal trends.

In the early days, shoes were made from readily available materials like leather, wood, and canvas. The Industrial Revolution brought significant changes in shoe manufacturing with the advent of machinery, enabling mass production and standardization. Today, advancements in technology have led to the use of diverse materials and intricate design processes, creating shoes that cater to specific needs, such as athletic performance, medical conditions, or aesthetic appeal.

The Cultural Significance of Shoes

Shoes are not just functional items; they are cultural symbols carrying significant meanings. The type of shoes one wears can indicate social status, personal identity, and even political affiliation. For instance, high-heeled shoes were initially worn by men in the 17th century to signify their high social standing. Today, they are predominantly associated with femininity and fashion.

In some cultures, shoes carry symbolic meanings. For example, in Japanese tradition, it is customary to remove shoes before entering a home, symbolizing the separation of the external and internal worlds. Similarly, in many Western societies, the act of shoe tossing or ‘shoefiti’ is often associated with rites of passage.

Shoes and Fashion

Shoes have undeniably become a fashion statement. From the iconic red soles of Christian Louboutin to the popular sneakers of Nike, shoes can define a person’s style and fashion sensibility. High fashion brands and designers have elevated shoes from their functional status to works of art, using them as a canvas to express creativity and innovation.

However, the fashion industry’s impact on shoes is not always positive. The demand for fast fashion has led to an increase in shoe waste, contributing to environmental degradation. This has sparked discussions around sustainable fashion and the need for eco-friendly shoe production methods.

The Future of Shoes

The future of shoes lies at the intersection of technology, sustainability, and personalization. With the advent of 3D printing, we are seeing the emergence of customizable shoes tailored to individual foot shapes and walking patterns. Additionally, smart shoes equipped with sensors to track health parameters are becoming increasingly popular.

Sustainability is another key trend shaping the future of shoes. Many brands are exploring the use of recycled materials and sustainable production processes to reduce their environmental footprint. This shift is not just an ethical imperative but also a response to changing consumer preferences, with more and more customers prioritizing sustainability when making purchasing decisions.

In conclusion, shoes are more than just protective foot coverings. They are a testament to human ingenuity, reflecting our evolving societal norms, cultural values, and technological advancements. As we move forward, the shoe industry is poised to continue its innovative streak, driven by the twin engines of sustainability and personalization.

That’s it! I hope the essay helped you.

If you’re looking for more, here are essays on other interesting topics:

  • Essay on My Favourite Shoes
  • Essay on Winter Season
  • Essay on My Favourite Season Winter

Apart from these, you can look at all the essays by clicking here .

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The Best Nike Running Shoes: Your Guide To The Brand’s Top Trainers

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Running wouldn't be where it is today without Nike, a brand known for its groundbreaking shoe technology and for outfitting top runners like Eliud Kipchoge, who wore the sport's first carbon-plated super shoes . Today, serious runners and newbies alike have a lot of Nikes from which to choose. For that reason, we’ve tested and reviewed all of the best Nike running shoes to bring you seven elite options in different categories. These include our top pick, the best-selling Nike Pegasus 40 , as well as the Zoom Fly 5 for distance running and the Invincible 3 for superior cushioning. Here, all the best Nike shoes for running that we highly recommend.

Lace up a pair of the best Nike running shoes to log miles on tarmac and trails.

  • Best Nike Running Shoes Overall: Nike Pegasus 40
  • Best Value Nike Running Shoes: Nike InfinityRN 4
  • Best Nike Running Shoes For Long Distances: Nike Zoom Fly 5
  • Best Nike Running Shoes For Cushioning: Nike Invincible 3
  • Best Nike Running Shoes For Road Racing: Nike Vaporfly 3
  • Best Nike Running Shoes For Stability: Nike Structure 25
  • Best Nike Trail Running Shoes: Nike Pegasus Trail 4

Best Nike Running Shoes Overall

A tried-and-true workhorse that can do it all, nike pegasus 40.

Weight: 8.5 ounces | Cushion: Medium | Drop: 10 millimeters

  • Reliable daily trainer
  • Breathable upper
  • Secure midfoot
  • Slower ride

The Nike Pegasus is the brand’s flagship daily trainer—nothing more, nothing less. It’s been around since 1983 (hence the “40” in its name) and a go-to model for runners looking for a reliable daily trainer. The shoe isn’t particularly bouncy or responsive, but it can put in the miles.

The shoe uses the React foam and Zoom Air Units for support and a stable ride. For runners who want to invest in just one shoe, the Pegasus 40 can serve as a running shoe, gym shoe and everyday wear (although it won’t last as long). In June, Nike will launch the Pegasus 41 , which will use the company’s new ReactX foam that delivers a more responsive ride and greater energy return.

Best Value Nike Running Shoes

Cushioned and supportive with innovative new foam, nike infinityrn 4.

Weight: 12.5 ounces | Cushion: Maximum | Drop: 9 millimeters

  • Wide toe box

The Nike InfinityRN 4 uses the brand’s new ReactX foam, a more environmentally friendly foam than its basic React foam. While planet-friendly materials sometimes come at the cost of performance, this shoe is still a workhorse, though it’s a little on the heavier side compared to similar models. But this shoe’s rocker-shaped platform gives runners that added propulsion without a carbon fiber plate.

The Nike InfinityRN 4 has a water-resistant membrane, unlike previous versions, for those wet training runs when you need to log miles in bad weather. In terms of value, you’re getting a high-quality Nike shoe that can withstand the wear and tear of long runs at the going rate of many daily trainers (compared to the much cheaper Nike Revolution 7 ). Yes, it’s a fair amount to pay upfront, but the materials last longer and the runs play out more smoothly than they might if you opted for a cheaper shoe.

According to Nike, the InfinityRN 4 runs a bit snug, so go with a half size up if you fall between sizes or need a little extra room.

Best Nike Running Shoes For Long Distances

A carbon fiber-plated shoe at an affordable price, nike zoom fly 5.

  • Carbon-plated shoe at a more affordable price point
  • Durable upper
  • Training and race-worthy
  • On the softer side for a carbon-plated shoe

The Zoom Fly 5 is, as the company puts it, the bridge between Nike’s premium Super Shoes ( Vaporfly 3 and Alphafly 3 ) and a standard daily trainer. The Zoom Fly 5 uses a carbon fiber plate, yes, but it is also significantly heavier—some 2 ounces—than the Vaporfly 3 and has a thicker upper than the premium racing models.

This combination, though, makes the Vapor Fly 5 a solid training-to-race-day shoe at a much more affordable price point. We should note that using a carbon-plated shoe for every run could lead to aches and pains , and possible injury thanks to how the plates change running biomechanics. So, before you decide to make this your daily trainer, build up mileage over time and see how your body responds.

Best Nike Running Shoes For Cushioning

Treat your feet to the brand’s most plush ride, nike invincible 3.

Weight: 10.9 ounces | Cushion: Maximum | Drop: 9 millimeters

  • Maximum cushioning
  • Signature waffle outsole
  • Some users report heel slippage
  • Wider fit might be too wide for narrow feet
  • Upper not very breathable

The Invincible 3 is for runners who love Nike and want a max-cushioned shoe. This plush model adds extra cushioning around the heel and tongue to deliver a soft, comfortable ride for distances of any length. The daily trainer uses Nike’s ZoomX foam, and in this iteration, the midsole is wider and taller, which is great if you need additional wiggle room, but it might be too wide for anyone with narrow feet.

Despite Nike using its breathable Flyknit upper, some wearers also complained about the upper’s lack of breathability. We haven’t experienced hot feet, but if you’re someone who does, it might be worth looking for a Nike model that’s plush without adding padding to the upper, like the React Phantom Run Flyknit 2 . The Invincible 3 also uses the company’s signature waffle outsole for lasting durability, so while it’s expensive, it should last a long while.

Best Nike Running Shoes For Road Racing

Run even faster with this super shoe gold standard, nike vaporfly 3.

Weight: 7 ounces | Cushion: Medium | Drop: 8 millimeters

  • Incredibly responsive
  • Lightweight
  • Designed for top speed
  • Doesn’t work well for slower paces
  • Not long-lasting
  • Prohibitively expensive

This is the Super Shoe that started it all. The Vaporfly 3 is the gold standard for distance racing shoes, thanks to its full carbon fiber plate, responsive foam, positively no unnecessary bulk and featherweight design. Personally, I haven’t had much luck in Nike running shoes; they tend to be too short and narrow for my feet, but I definitely took a sip of the Kool Aid when I tried the Vaporfly 3.

This shoe is 100% a distance-running racing shoe and should not be worn as a daily trainer. It’s not designed to last, thanks to the incredibly lightweight foam that breaks down quickly, and spending too many miles on a carbon fiber plate could have some negative implications on your body.

For runners who are looking for a distance running shoe specifically for racing—somewhere between a 10K and marathon at a fast pace—the Vaporfly 3 is incredibly breathable, light and wildly responsive, giving you an undeniable edge.

Best Nike Running Shoes For Stability

Keep your feet locked and loaded, nike structure 25.

  • Supportive and stable
  • Might be too firm for some
  • Arch support might be too aggressive

With the redesigned Nike Structure 25 comes a good-for-some aggressive stability trainer that relies on the brand’s Cushion 3.0 and Zoom Air Units for comfort and support. Zoom Air Units, by the way, are air-filled bags that sit within the midsole. On impact, they compress and absorb force, and then return to their original shape. (Yes, they’re the same airbags found in the famous Nike Air shoes you remember from the ‘80s and ‘90s, just improved.)

The shoe can be a little cumbersome because of its firmness, but that’s what people who need a stability trainer want. The higher stack height—37.7 millimeters in the heel and 27.7 millimeters in the forefoot—provides additional support.

Best Nike Trail Running Shoes

Seamlessly travel from road to trail, nike pegasus trail 4.

Weight: 10.5 ounces | Cushion: High | Drop: 9.5 millimeters

  • Designed for road to trail
  • Lightweight, responsive
  • Reinforced toes
  • Not made for technical or advanced trails

For runners who want to seamlessly go from road to trail, the Nike Pegasus Trail 4 is the perfect bridge. The shoe uses React foam for a responsive ride, and the outsole and lugs aren’t too soft, making the shoe road-friendly if you need to cover a few miles on tarmac.

On trails that are basic—not advanced or overly technical—the Pegasus Trail 4 is supportive thanks to the brand’s Flywire technology that uses high-strength threads, like suspension cables on a bridge for added support, and its grippy outsole is informed by runner data. Overall, the Pegasus Trail 4 is the go-to trail shoe for Nike, much like the Pegasus 40 is the go-to daily trainer. Consider it the workhorse with wings, as the brand puts it.

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Forbes Vetted contributor Heather Mayer Irvine , who authored this piece, has been running for more than two decades and has been testing running shoes for nearly as long. As a former food and nutrition editor for Runner’s World and the author of The Runner's World Vegetarian Cookbook , she keeps a pulse on the latest releases in sneaker technology to ensure readers are getting the most up-to-date information and recommendations.

You can’t expect to run a 5K in a new pair of shoes and assume you know how they’ll perform. When testing running shoes, including the Nikes on this list, it's important to put in significant mileage to really get a feel for their performance. That’s why we ran in the Pegasus 40 , Vaporfly 3 and Pegasus Trail 4 , among others, to evaluate comfort, support and responsiveness. This thorough approach helps us gather a wide range of perspectives, making sure runners of all backgrounds and experience levels can find the best Nike running shoes for their needs.

How We Chose The Best Nike Running Shoes

These are the Nike running shoes that we reach for on weekend distance runs, easy training runs around the block and speed runs at the local track. Mayer Irvine has worn Nikes on and off for years, and she keeps a pulse on the running shoe industry to stay abreast of new models, materials and designs.

Running is a sport that covers everything from different terrains to varying intensities and distances. Each runner has their own goals and preferences, and even if you're focusing on a specific distance or race, you need to mix up your training. Speed work, for example, is essential for long-distance runners because it boosts running economy and makes those long miles feel easier at a quicker pace. The same goes for trail runners who hit the roads or sprinters who take on long distances. The top runners in any field make sure to mix things up. With that in mind, we've picked a Nike shoe for every kind of run you might have in your training plan.

What To Look For In The Best Nike Running Shoes

Activity level.

A daily trainer is going to look and feel pretty different from a hardcore racing shoe. Before you invest in a pair of Nike running shoes, consider how you plan on using the shoe. Do you want a Nike running shoe that will serve you well for 20 miles a week? Do you need a running shoe that doubles as an everyday shoe? Or are you looking for a top-of-the-line super shoe for racing that will help you nab that long-sought-after PR?

Racing shoes, like the Vaporfly 3 , are going to be incredibly lightweight, and the foam will likely not last more than a single training cycle (depending on various factors). Racing shoes with carbon fiber plates are also not intended to be everyday running shoes; the continuous help from the plate can cause injury in some runners. Meanwhile, distance shoes like the Zoom Fly 5 offer plush support to absorb repetitive impact; they’re comfy, but you probably wouldn’t wear them for a fast race.

Nike uses two types of foam cushioning in its running shoes.

The ZoomX foam is light, soft and incredibly responsive, debuting in the brand’s original super shoes. According to the company, ZoomX—a polyether block amide (PEBA) foam—delivers 85% energy return, which is why it’s found in the company’s racing shoes.

The ReactX foam is a newer iteration of the brand’s foam. It launched in July 2023 in the Infinity RN4 . The foam is a thermoplastic elastomer (TPE), designed for everyday training. According to Nike, the ReactX foam has a lower carbon footprint than its predecessor.

Fit And Comfort

As with shopping for all running shoes, fit is going to be the most important factor. After all, if the shoe isn’t comfortable, you’re not going to want to wear it, and it can cause pain, chafing and even injury if you do.

Nike is known to run a little narrow and a little short. For some runners, merely sizing up a full or half size can alleviate this, but others might have to try another brand. For example, Mayer Irvine never had much luck with the Nike fit until she tried the Vaporfly 3 ; although some say the upper isn’t flexible and can be restrictive, she found that it let her foot splay out more than other Nike models she’s tried in the past.

Does Nike Have Good Running Shoes?

Some of the best runners in the world wear Nike running shoes. The company trailblazed the running shoe industry and has been a leader in running shoes since the 1960s. A good running shoe is subjective and depends on the wearer’s preferences. Nike running shoes are a favorite among runners thanks to their reputation and performance. The brand created the first super shoe, using incredibly lightweight foam and a carbon fiber plate that significantly improve performance.

How Often Should I Replace My Nike Running Shoes?

Typically, running shoes should be replaced every 300 to 500 miles, depending on factors like your running style, body weight and the surfaces you run on. Signs that it's time for a new pair include noticeable wear on the outsole, reduced cushioning and discomfort during runs. Keep in mind that some Nike running shoes, like the Vaporfly 3 , are designed solely for racing and should not be worn every day because the foam breaks down very quickly.

Other Running Stories To Shop

  • Best Hoka Shoes For Running: Your Ultimate Guide For 2024
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Orchid repotting photo essay

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Heather N. Kolich, ANR Agent, UGA Extension Forsyth County

On the left, a plastic bin containing water and bark soil material to replant an orchid; on the right a woman's hand holding a root-bound orchid plant.

First, I filled a tub with orchid bark potting mix and water, allowing the bark to become saturated before adding it to the new pot. The chunky size of the bark allows for good drainage and plenty of air around the roots. Then I removed the orchid from the tiny container. The roots had spiraled around inside the container.

On the left a close image of the root ball of the orchid. It shows some unhealthy roots at the bottom. On the right, the same orchid after the root damage is trimmed away.

There were several desiccated or dead root portions, which I snipped off with sharp scissors. The old potting mix was compressed around the plant, so I carefully removed it. Orchids need air circulation around their roots.

A woman's hand holding an unpotted orchid, next to an empty pot. There are two discarded bloom spikes laying nearby.

I snipped off the spent bloom spikes to make room for new ones to grow.

On the left, a person putting bark soil into the pot to prepare for planting; on the right the orchid has been placed in the pot.

I added the moistened bark mix to the bottom of the pot, then spread the orchid’s roots, fitted it into the pot, and continued adding bark mix, leaving an inch between the top of the bark mix and the top of the pot.

The orchid is sitting happily in its new pot.

My repotted rescue orchid in its new home.

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My Social Book

If you’re anything like my family, your developed photos are seemingly scattered all over your home. Sure, you have some photo albums lying on your coffee table, displayed in your foyer or tucked away in your bookcase but, sometimes, you can never find that one photo you’re searching for.

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My Social Book

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With an elegant layout, My Social Book automatically compiles and arranges your photos for you. You can even opt to arrange your custom book with monthly chapters to keep your memories chronological and where you can flip right to them.

Shoppers love the quality of their photo books because of the pages. Featuring 135gr satin paper, your photos will look professionally taken (even if they weren’t). Better yet, you can select your book’s finish: soft or hardcover, and with either a matte or glossy feel.

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  • Simone Ashley Arrives at Cannes Hotel In Animal Print Dress and Ilio Smeraldo Party Mules

The 'Bridgerton' actress wore a short fitted dress with open-toed heels.

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Simone Ashley arrived at Hotel Martinez in Cannes, France on May 24 wearing a Dolce & Gabbana animal print dress with a pair of open-toed black high heels.

CANNES, FRANCE - MAY 24: Simone Ashley is seen at Hotel Martinez during the 77th Cannes Film Festival on May 24, 2024 in Cannes, France. (Photo by Jacopo Raule/GC Images)

The British actress, who stars as Kate Sharma in Shonda Rhimes’ massive “Bridgerton” series on Netflix, was in the south of France amid the 77th Cannes Film Festival . Her short fitted dress from Dolce & Gabbana reached mid-thigh and featured a vibrant pattern that stood out on the Croisette. Cinching at the waist, the black and brown dress was adorned with a print reminiscent of a leopard or cheetah coat. A black sweetheart neckline peeked out above the bust, connected to thin black straps.

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Lori harvey steps into cozy amina muaddi shearling slippers for pilates, adidas taps pabllo vittar for 2024 pride collection, out olympian tom daley costars in campaign.

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For her footwear, Ashley slid into a pair of Party Mules by Ilio Smeraldo. The open-back and open-toed heels covered just a portion of her feet; the stilettos were set off with a dainty narrow heel that stood between an estimated 3 to 5 inches.

The “ Bridgerton ” star, who returns for Season 3 of the romance series opposite Jonathan Bailey, accessorized the look with a black Prada Cleo bag slung over her shoulder. Her hair was pulled back into a casual ponytail as she wore a pair of black sunglasses to tie everything together — and protect herself from the Mediterranean sun.

Before jetting off to Cannes, Ashley was recently spotted lighting up New York City at the “Bridgerton” premiere wearing a strapless silver Prada dress made up of dangling strands of glittering beads. She wore reflective silver heels and a silver purse to match.

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - MAY 13: Simone Ashley is seen in Midtown on May 13, 2024 in New York City. (Photo by Gotham/GC Images)

Ashley has been recognized for her personal style for some time now. At the 2023 Veuve Clicquot Polo Classic in New Jersey’s Liberty State Park, the up-and-coming actress wore a short chartreuse dress fitting for the summer event, and completed the look with brown studded sandals.

Meanwhile, Ashley’s “Bridgerton” co-stars Luke Newton and Nicola Coughlan — who take the spotlight this season as their characters’ slow burn romance unfolds — have been making striking fashion statements throughout their recent press tour. At the Season 3 premiere, Coughlan wore black satin Malone Souliers heeled sandals to match an elegant black dress.

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2024 Kentucky Derby full finishing order and results: Mystik Dan wins in thrilling photo finish

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Mystik Dan wins 150th Kentucky Derby

Mystik Dan is your winner of the 150th Kentucky Derby, winning in a photo finish by a hair over Sierra Leone and Forever Young. Mystik Dan entered the race with with 18-1 odds.

The underdog made up ground in the second half after the pack got off to a hot start with early leaders Fierceness and Track Phantom taking the pack through first half of the race in 46.63. The finishing order is 3-2-11-4.

Mystik Dan’s trainer Ken McPeek becomes the first trainer since 1952 to win the Oaks and Derby in the same year.

Kentucky Derby: Mystik Dan wins in photo finish over Sierra Leone, Forever Young

Kentucky Derby: Mystik Dan wins in photo finish over Sierra Leone, Forever Young

Andrew DeWitt

The 2024 Kentucky Derby was an incredible event that somehow exceeded its hype

Here’s what I learned about the Kentucky Derby today: It lives up to the hype and then some.

It’s a great event. The sound that comes from the grandstand as the horses make their turn towards home is something you can’t forget.

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Hannah Vanbiber

Thorpedo Anna and Mystik Dan wore the same bridle to win their races

The press conference ends with the reveal that Thorpedo Anna and Mystik Dan wore the same bridle to win their races. McPeek says maybe they should auction it off to charity. “That’s a pretty lucky bridle. I gotta get back there and make sure nobody swipes it.”

A Kentucky Derby love story

“Years ago, when Lance and I were dating, he was late to pick me up because he was at the races. I wasn’t going to go,” says Sharilyn Gasaway. Why she’s glad she did? “I didn’t know but my mom knew he was going to ask me to marry him that night.”

McPeek says he felt sure they had won even with that photo finish, and then gets choked up sharing how it felt to turn to his wife who was standing there next to him to see it happen.

'I was just smiling the whole time'

“I was just smiling the whole time. It’s an amazing feeling when you have the horse under you and you now they’re gonna go forward and forward and forward.” Brian Hernandez reflects on how strong Mystik Dan felt throughout the race, from a powerful start with sure footing all the way to the finish.

An emotional win for Mystik Dan owner

“To me, this is for him,” says owner Lance Gasaway, whose father passed away a year ago today. “Dad would’ve loved it, he loved the game."

Thorpedo Anna and Mystik Dan were too fast for each other

Thorpedo Anna, the winner of Friday night's Kentucky Oaks, and Mystik Dan used to be training partners. But then they weren't anymore. Why? McPeek says they were too fast for each other and that you don’t want to push them over the edge.

Jockey jokes about photo finish wait

“From the fastest two minutes in sports to the longest,” says Brian Hernandez with a laugh, referencing the long minutes of waiting to hear which horse won the photo finish.

Mystik Dan jockey reflects on race

“Oh god, did we win the Kentucky Derby?” The thoughts on jockey Brian Hernandez’s mind the second after he crossed the finish line.

“My horse was just cruising along so comfortably, it never felt like we were going that quickly. Other horses were piling up and we had a little pocket there. We may have taken a little off the inside fence but that’s okay," said Hernandez.

Mystik Dan, the 'old soul'

“This horse is an old soul, he’s just so chill,” says Sharilyn Gasaway, one of Mystik Dan’s owners.

No Preakness guarantee yet

Trainer Kenneth McPeek didn’t commit to running in the Preakness. Says he doesn’t make fast moves, "never make a decision until you absolutely have to."

'I believe in mojo'

'I believe in mojo'

(Photo: Hannah Vanbiber / The Athletic)

"I believe in mojo," Mystik Dan trainer Kenneth McPeek said.

McPeek has praise for his jockey, too, not just the mojo. “This is typical Brian, he knows what he’s doing out there. We rarely second guess anything he does.”

Nando Di Fino

What happened to Fierceness?

Favorite Fierceness ultimately finished in 16th, which put him below the alternate, Epic Ride, The offspring of Justified, Just Steel and Just a Touch (who a few people picked as the winner on the broadcast) finished in the bottom five.

Fierceness’ low finish probably took down a lot of exacta and trifecta bets where bettors paired their longshot pick with the 3-1 favorite. I’m sure we’ll get some answers later as to what happened with Fierceness.

Mystik Dan’s jockey still in shock

“It still hasn’t sunk in," said Mystik Dan’s jockey Brian Hernandez. Hernandez hails from Lafayette, La., something Louisianans are very proud of.

"We have to thank all the guys back at the barn…. I don’t know how long it’ll take to sink in but it’s a surreal moment."

Full finishing order

Here is the full finishing order of the 150th Kentucky Derby. Fierceness, the big favorite before the race, finished just behind Epic Ride, who was a late add this week after a scratch.

  • Sierra Leone
  • Forever Young
  • Catching Freedom
  • T O Password
  • Honor Marie
  • Track Phantom
  • West Saratoga
  • Domestic Product
  • Society Man
  • Grand Mo The First
  • Just A Touch

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The press is awaiting the winners. As are these hats and seats.

That was an expensive sip

Woodford Reserve made only 150 bottles of the “Baccarat” version. One of those has been set aside for the winner, although it wasn’t clear when they would receive the bottle.

The Baccarat edition costs $15,000. You can get the regular 150 bottle (seen on the stage) for about $45-50 at your local liquor store.

Someone got thirsty?

Someone got thirsty?

(Photo: Andrew DeWitt / The Athletic)

Here at the winners press conference, it appears someone broke into the Woodford Reserve bottle early and took a nice swig out of one of the bottles.

Given the level of drinking we’ve seen here today, that isn’t too surprising.

Oh, you thought the racing was over?

If you thought the party ended with the Kentucky Derby… not so fast. There’s still racing at Churchill Downs. In about 30 minutes, Race 13 will go off, with several Derby jockeys on different horses. Discreet Mischief is the 9/5 current favorite

IMAGES

  1. Photo Essay: Shoes on campus

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  2. 9 Best Shoe Photography Ideas To Style Your Shoot

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  4. Photo Essay: Shoes on campus

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  6. Photo Essay: Shoes on campus

    photo essay of shoes

VIDEO

  1. He Brought $3,000 Shoes?! #ramitheicon #shorts

  2. Wear Shoes--Essay #2

  3. Dialogue Between Salesman and Customer About a ShoeShop for Buying a pair of shoes

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  5. How to make a shoes Clipping in photoshop CC 2020

  6. Gardening ideas from old shoes P 02 #short #youtubeshort #shortvideo #shortsvidoes #diy #gardening

COMMENTS

  1. How to Create an Engaging Photo Essay (+ Examples)

    3. Take your time. A great photo essay is not done in a few hours. You need to put in the time to research it, conceptualizing it, editing, etc. That's why I previously recommended following your passion because it takes a lot of dedication, and if you're not passionate about it - it's difficult to push through. 4.

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  5. What is a Photo Essay? 9 Photo Essay Examples You Can Recreate

    4. Event Photo Essay. Events are happening in your local area all the time, and they can make great photo essays. With a little research, you can quickly find many events that you could photograph. There may be bake sales, fundraisers, concerts, art shows, farm markets, block parties, and other non profit event ideas.

  6. 23 Photo Essay Ideas and Examples (to Get Your Creative Juices Flowing!)

    Here are some handy essay ideas and examples for inspiration! 1. A day in the life. Your first photo essay idea is simple: Track a life over the course of one day. You might make an essay about someone else's life. Or the life of a location, such as the sidewalk outside your house.

  7. How To Create A Photo Essay In 9 Steps (with Examples)

    Choose an idea, hone your unique perspective on it, then start applying the 9 simple steps from above. The life of a plant or animal (your favorite species, a species living in your yard, etc) The many shapes of a single species (a tree species, a bird species, etc) How a place changes over time.

  8. Stepping into Style with Obie Shoes: A Photo Essay

    Stepping into Style with Obie Shoes: A Photo Essay. Oberlin is an undeniably stylish place. Through clothing, students visually reflect the vibrant character of the campus. Fashion and personal style is not solely expressed through shirts, pants, and outerwear. Arguably, the most important component of one's outfit is what grounds them: shoes!

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    Buy this photo. Sneakerheads, lovers of those red bottom shoes, chaco-holics. You can learn a lot about somebody from the shoes they wear. Yes, shoes protect our feet from the elements, saving us from scrapes and bruises. But shoes aren't just practical; shoes are a form of self expression and a celebration of fashion.

  12. 10 Years of ArtsATL : Charlie McCullers' photo essay of ballerina

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    Photo essay: Intergenerational coming together at UBC on National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. Hundreds in orange crowd the steps in front of UBC's Indian Residential School History and Dialogue Centre (IRSHDC) for the Intergenerational March to commemorate the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, also known as Orange Shirt Day.

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    500 Words Essay on Shoes The Evolution of Shoes. Shoes, an integral part of our daily attire, have evolved dramatically over the centuries. Initially, they were merely practical items, designed to protect the feet from harsh terrains and climate conditions. Today, they are essential fashion elements, reflecting individual style and societal trends.

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    Photo essay: Caps off to the class of 2024. This month, more than 1,000 Starbucks partners (employees) representing 47 states graduated from the Starbucks College Achievement Plan through our partnership with Arizona State University. Hundreds of graduates traveled to Tempe with their family and friends to celebrate this milestone achievement ...

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  24. Shop My Social Book for custom photo books: Great gift idea

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