Photo Essay

Description 

The Photo Essay Performance Task Guide is designed to guide students through the process of creating a photo essay that delivers a message on a topic of significance.

The photo essay is an engaging tool for teaching students important elements of narrative writing, media literacy, argumentation, and presentation. The strategic use of visual media to communicate, persuade, and inform is an important skill set that will prepare students for a variety of professional pathways. Photo essays are commonly used in business meetings to model new products or make sales pitches. They are used at conferences and exhibits to sway an audience or inform on a topic. Photo essays are also used virtually, with applications that span from sports broadcasting to social and political advocacy.

Opportunities for Student Choice 

Student choice can be encouraged in a number of ways: students can choose the topic, message, or position. They can choose the photos and text to include, and the audience and purpose of their essay. They will also choose the layout and order of the photos to tell their story and make their position clear.

Authentic Task 

Photojournalism and specifically photo essays are used in many professions. Organizations that disseminate news often use photos and photo essays to tell stories to a broad audience; social organizations use photo essays to make the public aware of various aspects of their cause; educators use photo essays to make their subjects come alive. Even in business photos are strung together to model new products, as sales pitches, and for advertising purposes. Within many fields, photo essays are used in meetings, at conferences, to sway public opinion, and to call communities, constituents, and stakeholders to action on various issues. Both historically and currently, the art of photojournalism is an essential skill and today that skill is enhanced through the use of multimedia technology.

Opportunities for Exhibition to an Audience 

There are many possible audiences for photo essays. If students are working on a school issue they can produce a photo essay to be presented or displayed at a school assembly or to be posted on the school’s website. If it's a community issue they might post their photo essay on the web or present it at a town council meeting. Students can create a guest blog post for their presentation. They can create their own class web link and put their essays together in one place. They might also submit proposals to present at a conference, or look for a site that supports youth voices. In addition, there are many websites dedicated to the presentation of photo essays on various subjects.

Downloadable Resources 
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Explore the Genre of Photo-Essays

What makes a great photo-essay?
Develop a clear enough understanding of the characteristics of this genre to be able to explain your understanding to others and explain the importance of photojournalism generally in the world today. 

Common Core Standards 

  • CCRA.R.7

Time To Complete 

1-2 Days

Photo Essay Performance Tasks Rubric

What are the expectations for this performance task?  

Each performance task has a single-point rubric, which lays out the expectations for college-and career-ready performance. This type of rubric allows teachers to provide specific, focused feedback without limiting students’ creativity or putting a ceiling on their achievement....

Choose a Topic_Photo

What makes for a good topic for a photo essay?
Identify an issue that you either feel strongly about or wonder about.

 

Common Core Standards 

  • CCRA.R.7

Time To Complete 

1-2 Days

Determine Your Audience_Photo

Who am I speaking to and what do I want to accomplish?
Determine who the audience is for your work.

Common Core Standards 

  • CCRA.L.3
  • CCRA.SL.4
  • CCRA.W.4

Time To Complete 

1 Day

Determine Your Purpose_Photo

What do I want to accomplish?
Determine what you want your audience to know or do based on viewing your presentation.

Common Core Standards 

  • CCRA.L.3
  • CCRA.SL.4
  • CCRA.W.4

Time To Complete 

1 Day

Research the Issue_Photo

What do people know, say, and believe about this issue?
Find and analyze resources that will help you grasp the topic’s key concepts, in addition to deepening your understanding of the range of perspectives about the issue with a focus on locating various types of photos

Common Core Standards 

  • CCRA.R.2
  • CCRA.W.8

Time To Complete 

1-2 Days

Choose a Position_Photo

What is your position on this issue?  What story are you going to tell through your photo essay?
Consider the research you have undertaken, and use it to inform the crafting of an evidence-based position on the issue.

Common Core Standards 

  • CCRA.R.8
  • CCRA.W.1

Time To Complete 

1 Day

Take and/or Choose Photos_Photo

How do you choose the most important images to include?
Find supporting evidence in the form of images to ensure your message/position/story is presented in a compelling fashion using principles of rhetoric.

Common Core Standards 

  • CCRA.R.7

Time To Complete 

1-2 Days

Create the Photo Essay_Photo

How do I create a photo essay that will communicate effectively, and be engaging and memorable?
Create the first draft of your essay. 

Common Core Standards 

  • CCRA.W.5
  • CCRA.W.6

Time To Complete 

2+ Days

Outline and Draft the Text of the Presentation_Photo

How do I craft the text of a multimedia presentation?  How do I start and end, and engage the audience?  What length works? 
Find a way to organize your thoughts about the issue, and integrate the supporting evidence you have collected into a powerful text to include in the presentation. Construct your first...

Common Core Standards 

  • CCRA.SL.4
  • CCRA.SL.5
  • CCRA.W.1

Time To Complete 

2+ Days

Giving and Receiving Feedback_Photo

How do authors and presenters collaborate to make their photo essays more effective?
Give and receive feedback that is focused and constructive, and will help the author improve their photo essay.

Common Core Standards 

  • CCRA.W.5
  • CCRA.W.6

Time To Complete 

1 Day

Incorporating Feedback for Revison_Photo

How can you improve your photo essay?
Using feedback from a peer and/or teacher, strengthen your photo essay by choosing and sequencing strong images to create an argument on an important topic. 

Common Core Standards 

  • CCRA.W.5
  • CCRA.W.6

Time To Complete 

1 Day