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Penn[sylvania] on the picket line-- 1917.

[Detail] Penn[sylvania] on the picket line-- 1917

Creating Photo Essays

George Harris of Harris and Ewing took a number of photos in the Women of Protest collection. (Search using Harris and Ewing as the keyword for a list of photographs taken by Harris.) Harris set up shop in Washington, D.C., in 1905 and became well-known three years later for a photo essay “Anatomy of a Smile,” which showed William Howard Taft receiving the news that he had been nominated for the Presidency by the Republican Party.

A photo essay is a collection of photographs selected to tell a story or convey an idea with the minimum of words. A photo essay can be made up of just a few photographs or it can be long enough to comprise a book. The individual photos in a photo essay can be captioned or photos can be grouped with a small amount of text accompanying each group of photos.

Browse through the Women of Protest collection. What stories could be told using the photos from the collection? What themes could be developed visually using the photos? Some examples might be the story of suffragists in jail or the story of the women pioneer statue; themes that could be developed include courage or protest methods. You could even develop a photo essay on a less serious topic, such as hats.

Pick a story or theme for a photo essay. Select six to ten photos to include in the photo essay. Arrange them in a way that you think would be effective in conveying the story or theme. Create captions or text to accompany the photos, but remember that the photos should do most of the “speaking.” Give your photo essay a title that will provoke curiosity.

What stories or themes could this photograph help you develop?