This project involves developing a photo essay during the semester. A photo essay is essentially a story that is tied together through related photos. See the Resources section for links on how to write a photo essay and for examples of excellent photo essays.

The photo essay topic is "Emirati Culture, sub-culture and lifestyle".

You are required to document any part of Emirati Culture through a set of at least 15 related photographs which have a common theme and "tells a story". Please stay away from stereotypical stories and images such as camels, falcons, traditional clothing and try to dig a little deeper to find modern themes. Find a topic that interests you!

Finally, you will create a Tumblr blog, post your photos accompanied by descriptive text. You will use the hashtag #emiratilife (and whatever else you want) for each of your photographs. You are welcome to use any other bloggin platform such as wordpress, blogger, etc that you may already be familiar with.

See some examples of past submissions.


1. Develop "visual literacy" skills
2. Understand photojournalism
3. Select appropriate photos that fit the theme
4. Sequence photographs in a related series of events and write "the story"


Some words of wisdom from the masters of photography:

To do that, you need to have a fair amount of imagination, and then sometimes that imagination leads you to a solution. Because what you're doing is trying to take a concept or an idea ... and translate that into a photograph that's going to grab somebody. You have to imagine yourself in the reader's seat. I always view the reader as who I serve. (Joe McNally)

"...But at the end of the day, if you've been able to move the reader, the consumer of your picture, then you've done a good job."(Joe McNally)

"Great pictures, or even really good pictures, don't drop from trees. They're sometimes a product of a lot of hard work, a lot of tenacity, a lot of problem solving, and then that final fill-up of good luck or good fortune." (Joe McNally)

"I always caution people that we're going to make a series of mistakes and find our path through our mistakes...I make mistakes all the time and that is a very valid way to approach any location scenario." (Joe McNally)

If your photos aren’t good enough, then you’re not close enough. – Robert Capa


1. This is an individual project.
2. Figure out your photoessay topic. Topics can be anything related to Emirati Culture and Lifestyle - weddings, food, clothing, staff, life, relatives, house, furnishings, hobbies, animals, lifestyle, family, etc. Anything you are interested in and want to talk about would be a good topic. This project is not about "traditional" Emirati culture but how the culture is changing and adapting. Try and stay away from steorotypes such as camels, falcons, dates, etc that we see everyday and dig a little deeper to come up with an unique or modern theme. Basically, the topics in this project are limited only by your imagination!
3. During the course of the semester, take as many photos as you can on your "topic" and keep notes on your photos. You should aim to take at least 100+ photos. This will ensure that you have enough material to pick the 15 best photos that tell your story.
4. If you take photographs of people, please make sure you have permission as these photos will be posted on a public website.
5. You can Photoshop your photos but try and keep them as natural as possible.
6. For your project, focus on the human element. That is, photos with human beings in them have a greater impact. That doesn't mean that every photo has to have a human element as long as some do.
7. Select at least 15 photos that you feel best tells your story. Make sure to put proper IPTC metadata information especially captions!!
8. Then, create a Tumblr blog title your page "Emirati Culture Photo Essay", and post your photos along with descriptive text. There is no word limit on the descriptive text. You are also welcome to post your Photoessay somewhere else like Wordpress or Google Sites site as well.
9. Your first paragraph of the Photoessay must have a detailed reflection on the course - what you learned, did you enjoy it, what would you have liked to learn, ways that the course could be improved, etc.
10. E-mail me the link to your blog site.
11. ZIP your set of original photos with IPTC metadata and send them to me. I will let you know where you need to upload your photos.

Time Frame

Please check the Semester Calendar for ALL due dates. See the Calendar link at the top of this page.


1. Page(s) on any blogging platform such as Tumblr containing at least 15 photos that have a common theme and tell a story about Emirati Culture. Photos must have descriptive text.
2. Email to me containing a link to your Google Sites page.
3. A ZIP file containing your original high quality photos with IPTC metadata uploaded to the E-Learning site. (-20%)


1. Photoessays
2. Photojournalism
3. How To Create A Photo Essay In 5 Easy Steps
4. How to Make a Photo Essay
5. Google search on how to write photo essays
6. Tutorial on Tumblr.
7. Tutorial on tagged redirects on Tumblr.
8. Tumblr WikiHow.
9. Google sites tutorial. An excellent Google Sites tutorial by a student.


This project will be worth 20% of the total course grades for LSFA-N254 and will be assessed on the quality of the submission, level of effort, number and quality of photos and the creativity of your idea.

To get an "A" for this project, your submission must be complete with many more than 15 excellent photos and a detailed description of the "story". Your story should be interesting and should demonstrate effort and creativity. There should be a high "wow" factor. Your submission will be judged against everyone else's submission to determine your grades.

In addition, please make sure that you have not plagiarized any material. If you use material from other web sites, please make sure to use a link back and properly credit your source.

Frequently Asked Questions

I can't select a good topic. Can you help me?

Answer: Figure out what interests you as an Emirati. It can be something traditional or modern but whatever it is, it should be interesting for you. You should also be able to write a good story with/about your topic.

Why can't you just assign me a topic?

Answer: Because I don't know what interests you. Only you know that. Once you figure out your interest, I can help you with ideas on the story or the types of photos you need to take.

Will I lose points if my photos are not good?

Answer: Your photoessay should demonstrate EFFORT and that you really tried to take good photos and to write a good story. If it looks like you started and finished the assignment the night before or a few days before the deadline then your grades will be like wise.

Can I get an "A" without really trying?

Answer: No you can't because there are no real shortcuts in terms of learning. You need to show EFFORT. The story and photos both have to be excellent and should show that you spent quite a bit of time on them.

If I give you an excellent story and 15 photos (the minimum required), will I get an "A"?

Answer: Most likely not. An "A" grade is for work that EXCEEDS expectations and minimum requirements. Don't forget that you are also competing with your fellow students for grades. There will ALWAYS be students who consistently deliver above expectations, who schedule their work in a timely manner and who put effort into the learning process.