The Photographic Essay
By Gary Ferrington

The photo essay is basically a story told through images often accompanied by text captions. Photo essays are published in books, magazine, newspapers, online, and sometimes in a book format.

There are two types of photo essays. One is the narrative which tells a story through a sequence of pictures. These stories can be planned in advanced, or generated while documenting an event. Typical of this may be a" day in the life" type feature, or an essay like the climbing of Mt Everest.

The second is the thematic photoessay and is primarily a collection of images around a central theme such as waterfalls of the Cascades, loneliness, parenthood, and so forth.

The Internet has become an excellent medium for the distribution of photo essays. Many photo essay sites now include the use of music and multimedia effects. Here are some editor choice sites:

Hipnotika. Photography and writings about Africa, by Mickey Bhuiyan. A beautiful online flash based portfolio with pictures from Serengeti, Ngorongoro, Kilimanjaro and Zanzibar. Recommend use of Internet Explorer to view. Requires flash and sound card.

Canto do Brazil. Geoffry Hiller. "Returning to Brazil after 25 years I was captivated once again by the charm and beauty of the country. No doubt the Brazilians are photogenic subjects, but it goes deeper than the image. Compared to the paranoia of people I've wanted to photograph on American streets, Brazil is absolutely refreshing." Requires flash.

Stop and Smell The Sakura. This is a photo essay by Michael Gozzard. "I came to Japan with great anticipation of experiencing the great, grand, and famous. So I was surprised when my eye was drawn to the seemingly insignificant and easily overlooked details that make Japan one of the most fascinating and mysterious places on Earth. I hope this essay will showcase the many things that have inspired me to stop, enjoy, and treasure the small details in everyday life; not just the grand events." Source The Foreigner/Japan

Dojunkai Aoyama Apartments. A photo essay by Tim Wagner. "Long a landmark of Harajuku, the Dojunkai Aoyama Apartments have stood since 1927, built as a modernist ferroconcrete experiment in urban living space. Under their cloud of zelkova trees, the multifamily housing block has fallen victim of the recent Omotesando Regeneration Project." Source The Foreigner/Japan

Farwell to Bosnia. Words and photographs by Gilles Peress. Explores memories of the war in Bosnia. Peress notes, " I began to think that I had come to Bosnia in part to see, almost to relive visions of my childhood memories." Source: Picture Projects.

Looking for the Light - Decade of Living with HIV. Photographs by Scott Thode. "There are moments which define work for photographers and artists and give them the clarity of vision to pursue a singular course. For Scott Thode, that moment came over a decade ago when he began photographing a story about Bailey House, the first residence for people with AIDS in Greenwich Village." Co-Presented with: The New York Times on the Web.

Moments of Extinction. - This photo essay explores indigenous people and remote places of the world. A photographic journey into forgotten cultures, from freelance travel photographer Yannis Psilakis.

Shattered. A collection of street photographs by James Nachtwey following the collapse of the New York WTC. Source: Time

If you would like to see more photo essays check out the site. Another excellent site is which has links to many fine photo stories.