Sampler of photos, features and news with a digital twist

Instagram photo/story assignment

BACKGROUND: Professional journalists and photojournalists are experimenting with using social media app Instagram for brief packages that include a single photo and a narrative. Great examples of this can be found on National Geographic, which in early 2018 was the most popular media outlet on Instagram with 87 million followers. Let’s take a look at some of National Geographic’s posts on Instagram.

The narratives, or “slice-of-life” stories, that Geographic produces, are focused on small moments that are rich in detail and easy to read. The Instagram narrative (caption) is limited to 2,200 characters or about 350 words. The close-up photos that accompany the narratives are sharp and crisp and capture depth of character.

The following articles discuss and provide examples of these very shortform stories/photos.

A 91-year-old literary magazine is hosting a yearlong experiment in storytelling on Instagram

Here are some examples of work that students have done during previous semesters for the past few years. Choose a volunteer leader.

Activity: Team up, explore the examples, take notes and discuss with your team mate. We will then discuss as a class.

Brainstorm ideas in teams and then as a class.

Next, let’s watch a video to help us shoot terrific portraits with our smartphones:


And finally, here’s the Instagram Assignment:


Combine a high-quality photo with a 350-word Instagram entry. Click here for rubric.

Due: May 8 before 8 a.m. You will present your work to the class during May 8 class.

General instructions: Use Instagram to present a brief, focused profile with a close-up photo of the person   who is the subject.

Learning objectives:

  1. Develop your photography skills, emphasizing visual aesthetics while shooting a closeup of the person
  2. Experiment with a journalistic tool that is part of a changing media landscape as you write a longer Instagram post (caption) that captures a tightly focused story from the life of a person or perhaps a place or thing.

Length: 350 words (this word count only includes the essay)

Value: 100 points

Specific instructions: Write a 350 word essay that is an interesting anecdote about the person you have photographed. Do not break it into paragraphs. Do not include quotes or quote marks. Do not write in news style.

Open a separate Instagram account (don’t put it in your personal account).   Here are a few tutorials to get you started.

Create your post using your photo and essay. Include appropriate hashtags, including #mcom356.

Embed or link your instagram account in one of your WordPress blogs.  Here is a tutorial to help you:




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