|Year : 2021 | Volume
| Issue : 4 | Page : 613-614
Photo Essay - The Moving Image and the Stirring Words
Santosh G Honavar
Editor, Indian Journal of Ophthalmology, Centre for Sight, Road No 2, Banjara Hills, Hyderabad, Telangana, India
|Date of Web Publication||09-Oct-2021|
Dr. Santosh G Honavar
Editor, Indian Journal of Ophthalmology, Centre for Sight, Road No 2, Banjara Hills, Hyderabad, Telangana
Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None
|How to cite this article:|
Honavar SG. Photo Essay - The Moving Image and the Stirring Words. Indian J Ophthalmol Case Rep 2021;1:613-4
“There's no need for fiction in medicine, the facts will always beat anything you can fancy.” - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in Round the Red Lamp
Nice little stories in medicine eminently deserve to be narrated. Interesting stories centered on patients and their diseases could make indelible teaching points if illustrated with striking images. A Photo Essay is a form of scientific medical writing that uses rich images supporting a brief narration to provide a complete and an interesting portrayal of a clinical condition in a nutshell or highlight a diagnostic or a management pearl. Integrating the captivating power of storytelling with the lasting influence that images have, a Photo Essay is an empowered learning tool. Ophthalmology being an image-based medical specialty, Photo Essays can be extensively used to show and teach.
William Eugene Smith (1918-1978) is recognized as ̶S0;the single most important American photographer in the development of the editorial Photo Essay.” Smith's works of relevance to medicine include his Photo Essay “Country Doctor”, commissioned by the Life magazine to chronicle Dr. Ernest Ceriani, a country doctor in Colorado, and his last work that uncovered Minamata disease, caused by industrial poisoning of water with mercury, resulting in congenital neurological deficit, which he stumbled upon and documented while retired in a small Japanese fishing village.
The trend of using images to tell a story (Feature Photo) was started by the Archives of Ophthalmology in 1964 and it lasted for about 11 years. It resurfaced in the form of an “Ophthalmic Photo Essay” in 1986. Several ophthalmic journals (“Pictures and Perspectives” in Ophthalmology) continue to use this interesting format; however, the available slots are extremely limited. The Indian Journal of Ophthalmology initiated the “Photo Essay” section in 2012. It moved to the sister journal Indian Journal of Ophthalmology Case Reports in January 2021 where it currently thrives with numerous submissions and an engaging publication spectrum.
“It is an illusion that photos are made with the camera - they are made with the eye, heart, and head” – said Henri Cartier-Bresson. Photo Essays then are made with the eye, heart and head and encrusted a with smart logical narration. Visual storytelling in a Photo Essay typically has three elements complementing each other – the image, text, and the composition., An image is not simply to decorate – it is to be a refined and an evocative visual product - technically strong and aesthetically pleasing, well-focused, clear, clean, with good resolution, and centered on the area of interest (using the rule of thirds). Captions should be brief but must explain the image to the extent that the image-caption unit becomes self-standing. Text should provide the background and a context to the image, be concise, crisp, well-crafted and should tell a story that kindles new knowledge and unambiguously brings out the point of interest. The composition should impartially help strike a perfect balance between the image and the text. Both the image and the text should be ideally placed verso recto on the same page. If a composite image is used, then all the components should be of the same size, maintaining the basic symmetry. A concise and an emphatic concluding statement and a nice title to the Photo Essay add to the overall effect. [Table 1] shows the checklist for a contemporary Photo Essay.
A Photo Essay brings the power of images to the art of storytelling and makes an engaging teaching tool. The Indian Journal of Ophthalmology Case Reports is happy to invite you to create and contribute well-crafted Photo Essays for consideration for publication.
“Photography is a small voice, at best, but sometimes one photograph, or a group of them, can lure our sense of awareness.” – William Eugene Smith
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