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WT 170 Writing Photo Essays

Teacher Tips and Answers


WT 170

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Writing Photo Essays

You’ve probably included photos or drawings in essays, but have you ever made an essay focused on photos? That kind of essay lets readers see for themselves—and we tend to believe what we see.

Picture This!

Photo essays use words and photos together. For example, in the book Rosie: A Visiting Dog’s Story by Stephanie Calmenson, the words tell how a dog cheers up sick children. The photos show Rosie at work in a hospital.

In this chapter, you’ll see part of a photo essay by a student just like you. You will also learn how to create your own photo essay.

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Sample Photo Essay


The following photo essay tells about a man whose love of birds sent him soaring. The words are important, but the many photos really tell the tale.

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The main part of the photo essay shows Christian in action and explains what he does. Photo credits tell where the images came from.

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Photos and words work together to tell a story. What do these photos tell you?

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The photo essay ends with a final important note about Christian’s work.

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Writing a Photo Essay


Select a Topic 🟪 What beautiful or amazing things could you take pictures of? What photos could you find on Wikimedia Commons? Choose a topic that will inspire readers.

Learn About Your Topic 🟪 What do you know about your topic? What do you need to know? Research, taking notes.

Take or Gather Photos 🟪 Take or collect 10 to 12 photos of your topic. Make sure any images from the Internet are available for public use. Include a credit line with each photo you borrow.

Decide How to Use the Photos 🟪  Which photos best tell your story? What order should you put them in? What words will you want to include?

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Writing a Draft

Tell Your Story 🟪 Include a beginning, a middle, and an ending part.
     🟪 Introduce your topic on the beginning page of your essay.
     🟪 Write sentences to go along with your photos in the middle part.
     🟪 End your essay with an interesting idea about your topic.


Read and Review 🟪 Revise your work.
     🟪 Do your beginning, middle, and ending work well?
     🟪 Do you include photos in the best order?
     🟪 Do your sentences clearly explain the images?

Editing & Proofreading

Check for Errors 🟪 Correct any errors in spelling, punctuation, and usage. Make sure all sentences are complete and correct. Make a neat final copy of your essay.

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Lesson Plan Resources:

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Vocabulary List:
  • photo essay: report told with pictures and words

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