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How to write a photography essay

Photography is the capture of an image, motion or expression and making it visible or permanent by chemical treatment, in short digital storage.

How to write a photography essay

When taking photography as a major in school and when writing a photography essay you first of all come up with a strong thesis on your essay conveying your exact position and setting out the tone of your essay.

This thesis will be the basis of your whole essay as you expound on it throughout your paragraphs.

Understanding how to write a photography essay is something that a lot of photographers do not get used to. When you are asked to write your own essay you are mainly asked to:

  • Opinionate on the efficiency of a different photographer by viewing their caption and analyzing it. Look into their technique of the caption, how and what you could have done different. In case the caption was a commercial shot i.e. a model putting on a furry jacket which is the product on display, if he took a long shot of the whole figure of the model in the jacket, was it effective on the sales compared to a middle close up shot which would capture the jackets details clearly compared to a long shot.
    • Alternatively, whatever type of shot the photographer used, did it serve its purpose? If you were given that tenor of job would you use the same technique? If yes why? No why? And support your answers.
  • Decide the efficiency of the technique used in the caption i.e. black and white, did it capture the intended effect? I.e. commercial jacket shot, if the photographer used black and white technique for the billboard of the same i.e. since black and white technique produces a continuum range of shades of grey: did this technique effectively bring out the details on the jacket? Was it a good choice of technique compared to use of colour photography which provides the actual colour shades?
    • By use of this black and white technique, did the commercial shot appeal enough to the intended target group by the company? Give your opinion on this technique and use in the caption, how and why you would or would not use it and back up your opinions.
  • The origin of photography and impact on culture. Focus on the photography industry has continually advanced throughout the years and how these changes have either eased or complicated photography. Here you generally give an outlook opinion on the general use of photography but still basing your ideas on the same caption under study.

Black and white technique, how it gradually came to change with the introduction and use of colour technique between the 1930s to the 1960s, how and why it has become more effective in the 20th century.

The precise use of black and white in photography is to give your caption an artistic edge, was it a good decision on this specific caption? Did it give this artistic effect? What is your personal view on the use of this effect as compared to the more popular color?

When learning how to write a photography essay you must keep the above pointers in mind. Keeping those in mind and a thesis in hand, you can now decide on what angle to tackle your essay be it exploratory, argumentative or a compare and contrast piece:

  • Compare and contrast essay – here you focus and use two different captions of the same photographer using different techniques, citing their effects, their general outlook ,how the different techniques used in the captions serve their purpose, back up your ideas, support or disagree to the choice of techniques used citing how and why they were the best choice or not.
  • Exploratory essay – here you try linking your personal opinion, use of the technique of the caption, its effect in earlier and modern times, its effectiveness in its intended purpose i.e. artistic or commercial. Basically base your essay on a conversational tone as if to invite the readers to join in and give their own opinions.
  • Argumentative essay – here your main focus will be based on the already made critics or opinions on the caption by other people i.e. renown photographers in the photography industry. It’s also good to have in mind you will have to use facts, analysis and other evidences to cement you thesis and still persuade the reader to agree to your idea.

Throughout the essay you will provide references to back up your angle of study in your essay and in case of any questions sprouting up in your essay you must provide answers.

Conclude your essay by summing up all your points supporting your main thesis as stated throughout the essay to satisfaction and proof read your work.

We hope you gained a lot from reading our free 'how to write a photography essay' guide.

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