The Photo Narrative

The Photo Narrative


Project Outcome Goals:

  • Connect the creative process to personal aspirations
  • Justify purposeful choices in the creation of work

Most commonly a narrative is defined as, "a spoken or written account of connected events; a story." Your challenge will be to create a visual narrative using photography.

What is your story?

How will you tell it?



Always Remember: All Epic Design Quests require documentation of your design process on a project page. Be sure you are very familiar with the design process before beginning any Epic Quest.


WARNING: Upon accepting this quest you will have receive 21 days to complete the quest without penalty. After that deadline the quest will reduce by 20%!


To begin this project now you may click Accept.


Time remaining before Penalty goes into effect

Dorthea Lange's 1936, Migrant Mother, Florence Owens Thompson, an iconic image of the Great Depression.












ALWAYS read the entire quest before beginning to ensure you understand all requirements. Remember the process is worth at least half of the project grade. 


Create your new project page titled Photo EssayNow copy and paste the following as you will need to complete and correctly document these 7 steps on the your design process:

  1. Understand the Problem
  2. Research and Investigate
  3. Generate Possible Solutions
  4. Select AND DEVELOP Best Solution 
  5. Model and Prototype (Create)
  6. Test and Evaluate
  7. Produce

OBJECTIVES for end of Project

  • Utilize the design process
  • Justify your purposeful choices
  • Communicate a story through photo rather than words
  • Create a strong Photo Essay through a series of images
  • What is Documentary and Journalistic photography and how do they apply to this project?
  • PRODUCE: a photo essay using multiple images (4-8) on a topic of your choice
  • PRODUCE: a photo that tells a story through a single composition
  • One of the two project must be created in the Darkroom





1. Consider what the goal of this project is:

  • What is a "photo essay" and "visual narrative"?
  • Compare and Contrast this to Journalistic photography
  • Why have you been assigned this project?
  • What is the goal of your these photos?


     Design Process STAGE 2: Research and Investigate

Record ALL resources as a cited source or a linked website with documentation on your project page.

2. Research Photo Essay and Visual Narrative thoroughly

  • Who has done it successfully?
  • What made them special?
  • What kind of topics seem to work for a photo essay
  • What will be the difference between your photo essay and the separate single photo that tells a story?
  • How would you define a successful narrative in photography?

My Diigo resource page for:  Photo Essay  |  Telling a Story


     Design Process STAGE 3: Generate Possible Solutions

3. Brainstorm ideas for your Photo Essay -- Show your brainstorming as idea webs, clouds, lists, found imagery, small sketches of elements (at least 25 ideas, words, elements required) 

Include your inspiration here. Artists and Images.

  • What will your Essay topic be? 1  |  2  |  3
  • Brainstorm
    • Subject Matter (what, where, when)
    • Concepts (what will it say?)
    • Style, techniques, or even a medium you will use to create the images
    • Colors, patterns, textures, or stories that could make a connection to your idea

4. Consider sketching thumbnail comps for your basic ideas even if they will change. Plans will open your mind and improve your confidence when you go to shoot.


     Design Process STAGE 4: Select and Develop Best Solution

Select the best plan

  • notate why you have chosen it
  • sketch basic composition ideas
  • How will color impact your story?
  • Document what Principles and Elements you will explore


      Design Process STAGE 5: Model and Prototype (Create)

Execute your photo sessions---shoot away!

  • 4-8 separate images that make up your "Photo essay"
    • images will be printed separately as 5x7 to 8x10 sizes ("usually" all the same size)
  • 1 separate single image for your "Photo that tells a story"
  • Produce and turn in your proofsheets on server and a Darkroom proofsheet needs to be simply shown to Coulson for credit
  • Reshoot when necessary
  • Develop images carefully and effectively
  • Remember Craftmanship and Technical Skill matters. It shows you care!
  • Remember to take in-progress screenshots of images through digital development for you project page


     Design Process STAGE 6: Test and Evaluate

7. Consider if you have successfully met your goals?

  • Would you benefit by a extension and reshoot?
  • How could you take it further?
  • Refine or develop elements of the design that can be improved
  • get a brief In-Progress Critique (from the Captain or others)
  • Do any of the images need to be developed further
    • tone?
    • crop?
    • contrast?


     Design Process STAGE 7: Produce

8. Complete final files

  • Put all images into a folder (last name, first name)
  • title files correctly
    • lastname_firstname_essay01
    • lastname_firstname_essay02
    • lastname_firstname_StoryImage
  • Turn high resolution .jpg's into the captain's server
  • Get finals printed and matte or mount
  • Finalize Project Page with self-reflection AT TOP OF PAGE
    • successes
    • struggles
    • improvements
    • what you learned
  • Include All final Images AT TOP OF PAGE of project page
  • Fill our grade sheet for the Captain



COMPLETE: You need a fully finished project page included all scanned sketchbook work with captions. Turn your your finished artwork to the Captain's Server. Finally Paste the URL to your project page below and you may then click complete.

Great Work Design Agent.

Amazing work, Visitor.

Be Proud.

Go hang the finished piece on the Critique wall at the front of the classroom. Other's need to see what you have accomplished.

MASTERY: To earn your mastery:

  • Get your artwork printed and matted or mounted (If its larger than 8.5 x 11 it will need to be matted or spray mounted. ask the Captain)
  • Have it selected for display in the hall

You are a truly special talent, Visitor!

We have big plans for you!!

Skip to toolbar