Sample Photoessay Project

This assignment asks you to take 20-25 photographs that bring to life increasing class inequality in the U.S. Of the photographs you take, you will choose four photographs to submit, based on how visually interesting they are and how well they capture the realities of the widening gap between the richest Americans and everyone else. For each image, you will write a one-paragraph caption that provides context for the image or that connects your image to a larger point about class inequality. Even though you are writing a caption, the image itself should tell the story.

What to Consider in Choosing the Content of your Photographs
• Consider capturing how physical environments differ in wealthy and poor neighborhoods—grocery stores, parks, convenience stores, homes, apartments, schools, transportation, landscaping, signage, graffiti, beauty, etc.
• Consider capturing how it feels to live in particular class positions.
• Consider capturing what work is like for people in particular class positions.
• Consider capturing what play/leisure is like for people in particular class positions.
• Consider capturing how class intersects with other kinds of inequality, such as race, gender, sexuality, immigrant status, etc.

Principles of Effective Photograph Composition
Here are some common principles for composing effective photographs from
• Use the rule of thirds—imagine breaking the image up into horizontal and vertical thirds and placing key elements you want to draw attention to along those intersections
• Try to balance the weight of the objects in the image
• Notice the lines that lead a viewer’s eyes into the image
• Look for patterns or symmetry
• Compose the image from interesting viewpoints (not just eye-level)
• Try to create a sense of depth
• Use objects in the environment to frame the main subject of the image
• Consider cropping tightly around the subject to focus our attention
This is another excellent guide to composition:

Ethical Guidelines for Photographing People and Places
• As photographers we must always be respectful with our subjects – whether they are people, places or things. Do not alter or disturb anything you take a photograph of. Please always remain respectful.
• You CAN take photographs of people who are outdoors and in public places without their permission.
• You CANNOT take photographs of people who are in private places (such as malls) without obtaining their permission (see the attached sample consent form).
• DO NOT take close-up photographs of individuals unless you have asked for their permission in advance.
• DO NOT take photographs of situations or circumstances that would be intrusive, embarrassing to anyone, or create false impressions.

Photograph Format Guidelines
• The photograph must follow the ethical guidelines above
• The photograph must be visually compelling
• The photograph itself must say something about class even without the caption
• {teacher chooses} The photographs must be submitted in print form at least 4&6 inches or larger with captions underneath OR the photographs must be submitted in jpg format of at least 4&6 inches and a resolution of 180 pixels per inch (ppi) with captions attached in a Word document OR the photographs must be submitted electronically as a PowerPoint file.

Caption Guidelines
• Your caption paragraphs should take the form of PIE paragraphs: Point/Illustration/Explanation.
• Provide plenty of textual Illustrations (referring to detail in your photographs) to support your Points. Discuss your images in specific detail.
• Use specific ideas about increasing class inequality to Explain/Analyze your points and illustrations. (Make sure to define and explain any concepts or terms that might be unfamiliar to your reader.)

This project is due {teacher chooses} and is worth {teacher chooses} points. Along with your 4 photographs and captions, you must TURN IN RELEASE FORMS, BOTH FOR YOURSELF TO ALLOW THE 1500 STORIES PROJECT TO EXHIBIT YOUR IMAGES and, if applicable, for the subjects of your photographs. Photographs and release forms can be submitted to the 1500 Stories project either by e-mailing them to or by uploading them to the 1500 Stories Dropbox folder.