write photo essay

Photo Essay Requirements



The goal of this project is to show, visually and in writing, that you have developed a sociological perspective. You will have the opportunity to demonstrate that you can:

  1. Utilize sociological theory and apply it to everyday life.
  2. Apply sociological concepts and critical thinking skills to evaluate various social phenomena.  
  3. Search for meaning and understanding in broader society, evaluate ideas and information, and develop and support meaningful conclusions.
  4. Develop an awareness of how race-ethnicity, gender, social class, age, sexual orientation, religion, nationality etc. (social location) influences one’s perception of society.

For this project you will take photos from your everyday life and explain them using a sociological lens.  You get to choose which sociological concepts you wish to cover from the assigned chapters (listed below). Consider what you have been reading about in your textbook, and what we have been discussing in class.  More sophisticated essays will include more than one concept. Look at the words that are in bold in your text. You will be submitting six photographs (total) in 2 separate submissions. See due dates at the end of these instructions and on the calendar.

It is required that you take the photographs and that they are current (meaning you took the photos for this assignment). It is best if the photo is candid-that is, not staged. Also, you will get more out of the assignment if you don’t think about what you want to photograph and how that will “fit” a concept, but rather you will want to choose your concept and look for ways to illustrate it creatively. You want to capture something that is happening in your world, right now, that illustrates the concept.

Consider what is appropriate to photograph and demonstrate creativity. Ask permission if you take a picture of someone- this is required if you take a photo of someone in a non-public setting.

What you will submit

You will submit each image on the top half of the page and provide a written description beneath the photo (1-2 paragraphs).

Your descriptions must be clear and concise, and address the following:

  1. Provide a clear descriptive summary of what is happening in your photo.
  2. Explain the sociological concept(s) or theory that is captured in the photo.
  3. Describe your photo using a sociological lens. How does your photo connect to and represent the sociological concept(s)? I encourage you to reference course material to support your analysis (from the readings, films, lectures and discussions).

In the second submission (Part II) you will also provide 2-3 paragraphs of how you feel your social location affected not only what you chose to photograph but how you analyzed the pictures.Remember our Social Location is the place in society that we occupy (in terms of social class, race/ethnicity, age, gender, religion, geographic area, etc.). Think about how those various elements affect your view of the world and in turn, this assignment.


The textbook provides many examples of photographs to help illustrate appropriate photographs. I am not looking for professional photography.  For example, taking a picture with your cell phone is fine.

Remember, the goal of the assignment is for you to develop and apply your critical thinking skills and to question taken-for-granted assumptions about the world around you.

Due Dates and Grade Breakdown


Number of submissions

Choose any concepts within these chapters. Do not simply pick the chapter topic itself

Due date


Photo Essay Part I

photos and

 1-2 paragraphs of written commentary for each photo

Chapter 2: Culture

Chapter 3: Socialization

Chapter 4: Social Structure

Chapter 5: Groups & Organizations







Photo Essay Rubric

Photo Essay Rubric

Criteria Ratings Pts
Descriptive Summary
Clearly and explicitly provides a descriptive summary of what is happening in the photo.

5.0 pts

Descriptive summary lacks clarity and depth

3.0 pts

Unclear or not found

1.0 pts

5.0 pts
Explanation of Sociology
Thorough and in depth explanation of the sociological concept(s) or theory, shows application of discipline

5.0 pts

Explanation demonstrates a limited amount of knowledge and application of sociological concept(s) or theory

3.0 pts

Explanation does not demonstrate understanding of sociological concept(s) or theory

0.0 pts

5.0 pts
Photo connection and representation of sociology
Connection to and representation of sociology is insightful and coherent

5.0 pts

Makes valid explanation and basic insights to demonstrate understanding of sociology

3.0 pts

There are only minor or no efforts to show how the sociological concept or theory is represented; explanation needs more depth

1.0 pts

5.0 pts
Follows format guidelines
All requirements met. Essay is double-spaced, 12 font, and a minimum of one full paragraph is presented for each photo. Theories are from correct chapters

5.0 pts

Some but not all requirements met

3.0 pts

Very few or no requirements met

1.0 pts

5.0 pts
Total Points: 20.0
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