Best Photo Essay Sites



You know that you can read the news in a paper, listen to it on the radio, or watch it on TV. But not many know that you can also see what’s happening around the world as photos or slideshows.

Journalistic photo essays have been around for some time now. Life magazine revolutionized this new style of consuming news and information. But now that Life has stopped, where should you go to see the news in an interesting new way5 Interesting Ways to Read the News Every Day5 Interesting Ways to Read the News Every DayChange how you read news: take small bites, track a single subject, or read the most trending articles. These sites and apps will give you an interesting way to consume news.Read More?

1. Time’s LightBox for News, Life for Archives

Before we go further, you should know that all the archives of Life magazine’s photo essays are available online. You can see them at, which is a subsidiary of Time magazine now.

Time itself has its own section for such photo essays, called LightBox. It’s not always chronological, but it’s always topical. The site covers everything from events like a mass shooting to journeys through different countries.

All the archives are completely free, and the site works well on both desktop and mobile. Have fun going through this one, especially the Life magazine portfolios. It’s old, but it’s still among the most intelligent content you can read todayRead More Intelligent Content in 2016 with These 35 SitesRead More Intelligent Content in 2016 with These 35 SitesWe should all read these 35 sites more often. If you are tiring of dumbed-down content make things somewhat more thoughtful this coming year with this super list.Read More.

2. The Atlantic’s In Focus

Photo editor Alan Taylor doesn’t go out into the field himself. But he’s an expert at picking gems from the works of others to tell a story. At The Atlantic, Taylor has access to several news agencies to construct these hand-curated essays.

The variety is mind-boggling. Taylor tells stories of war, of seasons, of travel, or disaster, of sports, of culture, and anything else he can think of. They are all large-sized photos that look good even on a high-resolution screen. Each picture also has its original caption. And there’s a fullscreen slideshow option too. It’s an immersive experience.

Taylor also collates the best photos in the news every week. It’s a different way to catch up on what’s happening across the world, as a single picture and a caption tells the story. In Focus is an excellent example of the quality you get when real humans curate contentA Human Touch: 5 Quality Video Websites Curated By Real PeopleA Human Touch: 5 Quality Video Websites Curated By Real PeopleYouTube is awash with videos. How do you weed out the junk from the quality content? The best bet is a recommendation by another human who has seen a video and liked it.Read More.

3. Boston Big Picture

Before In Focus, Alan Taylor started the Boston Big Picture photo blog at The Boston Globe. It has the same format, themes, and ideas. Some of the topical essays also repeat, but there is enough new stuff to visit both.

The original blog to support photojournalism, Big Picture continues to deliver quality updates every week. Again, you will get high-resolution photos that are highlighted above all else. Captions will tell you what you need to know about it.

A favorite is the “Globe Staff’s best of the month” which marries photojournalism and street photography. It’s the kind of blog that teaches you to be a great photographer9 Blogs That Will Make You Into An Amazing Photographer9 Blogs That Will Make You Into An Amazing PhotographerThere's blogs which try to cover everything related to photography; there's specialized blogs that dive into the niches; there's blogs which only talk about gear, and there's blogs by talented photographers.Read More, while still entertaining you.

4. Reuters Full Focus

In a time of fake news, for those who want trustworthy news13 Most Trusted News Sites You Should Bookmark13 Most Trusted News Sites You Should BookmarkWe are in an age where we don't trust the people reporting the news. But there are some trustworthy news sources out there. Look at the ones on this list for unbiased reporting.Read More through photos, turn to Reuters. The global news agency’s dedicated page has striking photojournalism covering myriad topics.

The blog features both styles of web photo essays. Established photojournalists get single-topic essays of their own. Meanwhile, Reuters photo editors also create slideshows from the works of the entire team. This adds a lot of depth to coverage of areas like the conflict in the Middle East, or a disaster like the recent Hurricane Maria.

Like all the other sites, you can view a slideshow in fullscreen mode, or expand all images on a single web page. Fair warning, the site takes a long time to load, but it’s worth it.

5. Al Jazeera’s In Pictures

Even as a long-time fan of Alan Taylor, my personal favorite news photo blog today is Al Jazeera’s In Pictures. It effortlessly combines news events and interesting non-news features.

As you probably know, Al Jazeera is a leading news site that prides itself on being independent and free of censorshipTop 5 World News Websites Guaranteed Free From CensorshipTop 5 World News Websites Guaranteed Free From CensorshipIs there no place for the reader to turn for unbiased news? The short answer is an emphatic yes. These five popular news websites are free from censorship.Read More. So such uncensored photos can sometimes be a little hard to stomach. Look out for warnings in case the pictures will be traumatic.

It is also the most regularly updated site among all these photo blogs. The gamut of topics is also wide and varied. Bookmark this one, you’ll want to come back to it often.

Do You Read, Watch, or Listen to News?

The news is getting difficult to trust these days. It’s almost like the onus is on you to fact-check and verify the newsAvoid Fake News and Verify the Truth With These 5 Sites and AppsAvoid Fake News and Verify the Truth With These 5 Sites and AppsThere are plenty of lies floating around on the internet. From extensions that flag notorious fake news outlets to websites that bust hoaxes and myths, here are the five resources you need.Read More, not on the journalists themselves. Naturally, you will end up finding someone you trust and stick with them.

How do you prefer to get your news these days? Do you like to watch video clips on social networks, YouTube, or a proper news channel on TV? Are you a reader who relies on newspapers and websites? Or are you that rare radio and podcast listener?

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Photo essays seem like a daunting undertaking accomplished only by the massively creative unicorns living in our midst. They’re popular among the New York Times and Times of the world. However, you can easily learn how to make a photo essay, too. If done well, a photo essay can put a picture to your purpose and create a personal and emotional experience for your website visitors.

Previously, we talked about the benefits of a photo essay on your nonprofit’s website. Now let’s get into the nitty-gritty process of how to make a photo essay and look at examples along the way. Let’s get started!

Find a Photographer

Before you do anything else, make sure you have a talented someone willing and able to take these awesome photographs. This someone can be a volunteer, staff member, or a professional photographer. Have someone in mind? Great!

Decide on a Message

What do you want to say with this photo essay? The message should be related to your nonprofit’s mission and vision. A good message has the capacity to invoke an emotional response to viewers.

Make a Game Plan

Pinpoint a subject or group of subjects to photograph. Action is great for photo essays, so it’s best if your subjects are doing something. Coordinate a time and place that works for the photographer as well as those being photographed. A photo essay does not need to be done in a day (although it definitely can be). Be sure to let your photographer know the more photos to choose from, the better.

Choose Your Photos

This is where the creative juices really start to flow. All of the photos should address the same message. As you’re choosing which photos to include, keep your core message in mind. Which photos best convey that message? Consider your audience as well, and choose photos that they’ll connect with emotionally. The photo essay tells a story, so be sure to arrange your photos in an order that makes sense for the story.

In this photo essay, Charity: Water tells the story of a school in Nepal that needs access to clean water and receives it. Each photo drives home their message: Everyone should have clean water. Whatever your message is, make sure it hits home in every photo you choose.

Include a Variety of Shots

Varying ranges and angles will add some depth to the photo essay. Wide shots set the scene, giving the viewer an idea of the location and who is involved. Medium shots are usually action- oriented. They give the viewer a better idea of what’s going on. Close-up shots are often among the strongest. They are intimate, focusing on one subject in a tight portrait. Detail shots can be integral to setting the scene. Often, these shots are a close-up of someone’s hands performing an action.

Team Rubicon uses photo essays on their “Story of Team Rubicon” page. They start out with a wide shot, then medium, detail, and close-up. The variation keeps the photos visually interesting, while sticking to the same message in every photo.

Format Your Photos

For a slideshow setup, keep all your photos the same size. Additionally, if you decide to include a border, it should be the same on every photo. A border is not necessary, but it can be useful in certain instances. Write a caption for each photo with a simple explanation of what is going on in the photo.

This New York Times photo essay on refugees uses a border on each of the portraits. The border ties together each of the portraits, taken at different times and in different countries. This method humanizes the crisis by photographing the refugees outside of the refugee camp, so they can be seen as dignified human beings.

Briefly Set the Scene

Your introduction should be short and informative. You definitely want to let your photos tell the story, so only include information that the average visitor would not be able to glean from the photo itself or the caption.

Conclude with a Call to Action

Include the call to action at the end of the photo essay. Appealing for support makes sense after you’ve given your visitors a chance to learn your mission through a photo essay.

So now you know how to make a photo essay for your nonprofit, and you’ve seen some stellar examples. Include your new photo essay on your website. Visitors will have a clear image of who they are helping and will be more likely to turn their emotional connection into support for your nonprofit.

Does your nonprofit use photo essays? Have any other tips on how to make a photo essay? Let us know in the comments below.

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