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Create Powerful Photo Essays & Personal Projects

with David H Wells

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Class duration: 15h 15m

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About The Class

create a captivating photo essay.

The most powerful way to establish your voice and distinguish yourself as a photographer is to conceptualize and shoot a photo essay. Photo essays are compelling, dynamic, vivid mission statements of your work — every photographer should have a working knowledge of this narrative art form. Join David Wells to learn how to create a captivating photo essay from start to finish.

This course shatters the myth that photo essays are only for photojournalists; you’ll learn how all photographers can use photo essays to tell the story of any subject, in any style. You’ll learn how to present your unique point of view and communicate a coherent aesthetic through a compelling photographic essay. You’ll build strategies for tackling the complex task of assembling, editing and presenting a large photo project that speaks to its viewers. You’ll also learn about the techniques that are essential for keeping yourself inspired and organized while maintaining an effective workflow.

By the end of this course, you’ll have the skills it takes to stand out in a crowded marketplace and create a compelling project that showcases your skills, communicates your style, and helps others understand your personality, passion, and talents.

Topics Covered

Lesson Plan

  1. 01

    Class Introduction

  2. 02

    Pivotal Essays

  3. 03

    Redefining the Client and Other Pivotal Projects

  4. 04

    Career Path Part 1

  5. 05

    Career Path Part 2

  6. 06

    Defining Your Skillset

  7. 07

    Seeding the Project

  8. 08

    Mirrors and Windows

  9. 09

    Creativity Quotes and Ideas

  10. 10

    The Evolution of Foreclosed Dreams Part 1

  11. 11

    The Evolution of Foreclosed Dreams Part 2

  12. 12

    How to Write a Project Proposal

  13. 13

    Color vs Black and White Formats

  14. 14

    Linear vs Portfolio and Choke Points

  15. 15

    Student Proposals

  16. 16

    Analyzing Photographs

  17. 17

    Experiment to Define Format

  18. 18

    Editing Exercise

  19. 19

    Grants and Funding Part 1

  20. 20

    Grants and Funding Part 2

  21. 21

    Mechanics of Developing Your Project Part 1

  22. 22

    Mechanics of Developing Your Project Part 2

  23. 23

    Elevator Pitch

  24. 24

    Executing Your Project

  25. 25


  26. 26

    Shooting Approach

  27. 27

    Shooting Q&A

  28. 28

    Instant Editing and Time Use

  29. 29

    Editing Exercise with Students

  30. 30

    Workflow Part 1

  31. 31

    Workflow Part 2

  32. 32

    Organization and Model Releases

  33. 33

    Reinvention as a Career Path

  34. 34

    Online Resources and Closing Thoughts

  35. 35

    Final Q&A and Feedback


Meet Your Expert

David H Wells

David H. Wells is a freelance photographer/video maker using whatever technology he can to create visual narratives. He is based in Providence, Rhode Island, affiliated with Aurora Photos and is also a photo-educator. One editor described him as a “...specialist in intercultural communication and visual narratives that excel in their creative mastery of light, shadow and sound, stills and video."

... read more

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Bonus Material

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  • pdf David H Wells - Business
  • pdf David H Wells - Literary Journals List.pdf
  • pdf David H Wells -
  • pdf David H Wells -
  • pdf David H Wells - Sample
  • pdf David Wells - Keynote Day 1.pdf
  • pdf David Wells - Keynote Day 2.pdf
  • pdf David Wells - Keynote Day 3.pdf
  • pdf David H Wells -

100% of students recommend this class.
See what some of them have to say.

  • Jess

    July 2014

    First off, I was a photo assistant for a few years to a photographer who did numerous multi-day workshops. This was my first time as a student sitting in on a webinar that actually kept me interested. Sometimes I'm turned off by the pace of the teacher, his or her voice, or the manner in which they disseminate the information. But this was truly fantastic. David showed lots of his work in a way that was NOT egotistical in any sense (something that does happen quite often). I was utterly impressed by the quality of his work, the wealth of knowledge he has on the world, culture and politics, and how he shoots "on the go". All of those qualities are essential parts to creating a great photo essay/story. I came into this seminar needing inspiration and in the end I have more ideas than I know what to do with. David's work is truly magnificent; his photo stories pertain to people and their struggles, which really could be something any one of us could go through at any point, but he shows it in a way that is beautiful - either beautifully desperate or beautifully destructive - instead of in an exploitative way. On a side note, he also offered up a lot of great information having to do with funding, exposure, workflow, time efficiency, income streams, releases... you won't find this a lot with other photographers. You will find the "go find the info yourself" attitude. This has been my problem as of late with photography - we don't work together as artists, we work against each other competing for what, I'm not sure. David's seminar seemed to embrace photography as the art form it is, and shared with us the tools that we as artists need to really understand and utilize in order to get our story out there. A story it seems he really wants to see/hear. Just an amazing "Thank You"!!!!

  • Anjani Millet

    Anjani Millet

    July 2014

    Just completed the course. Fantastic, practical information on everything from grant writing, finding foundations, proposal development, even how to shake hands overseas. I am not sure where else I would have found this information for photographers. So appreciate it. One friend asked if this would be worth watching for anyone outside the US and the answer is a definitive yes. Very happy I purchased, and already starting to implement.

  • Claudia Oliveri

    September 2019

    After completing the class where I was given a lot of practical information, I am happy to say it was very enlightening and instructive. Thank you for this. It has helped me on various issues to move forward hopefully successfully in my craft.

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