So what exactly are the elements of a good photo essay?
Well, a photo essay is meant to communicate information, generally in a persuasive way.
For example, imagine a photo essay on an immigrant's journey to America.
You may start with pictures of their hometown, move to the struggles of filing paperwork, raising money, and the actual trip, then resolve with them in their new home.
After that, try some detail photos, which are close-range images that can present a lot of information in a compact, emotionally-powerful way. The last photo or two should summarize the narrative and leave the audience with a strong image that encapsulates your theme.
The best photo essays can tell an entire story in five to ten images.
However, one of the benefits of using images over text is that you can also create a subtle narrative.
Your pictures may tell a less concrete story, but still convey a powerful message.
Photo essays should communicate a story on their own, but text is often helpful to provide context, dates, names, and explanations.
So don't be afraid to use text, but keep it succinct and relevant.