Transformations Happen: A Photo Essay

Images from my photo essay: Work Attire During a Pandemic: A Transformation
(jump to end of post to read the photo essay)

Throughout this pandemic, all of us have experienced change in some way.

Something that I’ve noticed happening for me is the transformation of my work attire. Like many of those who can, I’ve been working mostly from home for the last year. So, of course, I haven’t had much of a necessity to dress business casual anymore – at least not fully. 

Pajamas all day every day! Who doesn’t love that!? 

I mean, I definitely enjoy having the option to wear comfy clothes every day. But while that’s a truth, I do sort of feel a loss of routine and individuality through the change. 

Routines help build a foundation to each day, and my morning schedule has drastically adjusted with working from home. And simply put, a lot of that has to do with choosing and putting on an outfit, or lack of that process.

Applause to those of you who’ve kept up with a regular healthy routine while working from home! 

The reality of this is about the amount of change during this pandemic, resulting in the term that’s been widely popular from the start – “the new normal.”

Which leads me to my photo essay! Photo essays present a story through visual images which accompany the text. However, a person should be able to understand the story without even having read the written words.

“Presenting a story through photography communicates a different — often deeper — understanding of person, place, event or narrative”

– Eman Shurbaji in Photo Narratives

The Goal

There are many different types of photo essays. One of the most popular types is one that captures events. Historic events in particular are grabbing and show the truth beyond mainstream media. 

Of course, with the pandemic, a lot of places and events are on hold – so finding one to cover was out of the question. I had to come up with an alternative. My mind went right to making a transformational photo essay, which is another well-known option. 

Because I am the subject behind the photos, and I’m using my experience as a base, this essay may almost come across as a photo story instead. However, the point of this wasn’t to bring up my experience as an individual only. 

The percentage of people working from home jumped from 20% before the coronavirus outbreak, to 71% afterwards – that’s huge! There are also studies which link working and feeling better when wearing nice clothes for work

The goal of my photo essay was to visually show the change in work attire for those who’ve been working from home during the pandemic, through my own experience.

Through the essay itself, it should elevate the understanding of the situation – a new routine which involves a lack of a routine. 

My Design Analysis

I decided to present an artistically visual essay for my photojournalism adventure. The tonal background of the pages transition from light to a dark brown, which accompanies the change of photos of office attire, to home wardrobe. 

The decision to use the different tints and shades of brown bring out the photos as their foreground/backgrounds include these as well. The gradient also helps bring forward the monotonous repetition of getting out of bed, choosing to put on the first thing in sight, and beginning the work day. Browns and beiges are typically used when wanting to bring out other colors, which is exactly what I’d planned for the essay.

As for fonts, I used a Serif for the title, and accents – which promotes a traditional feel for the essay. I wanted it to be strong but classic for the contents of the paper. For the sub font, I used a Sans Serif, which promotes progressiveness that would work well with the transformation aspect. 

My Photo Analysis

Photos that belong in a photo essay must be thought through beforehand, as they need to fit a specific story

That said, after taking many photos, it’s possible you’ll find a new direction in the story with what was captured, and that’s OK too

However, that’s not how my process worked. I had a week to develop a transformational photo essay, which means I had to decide what they would look like and how they would operate early on.

With photography comes different shots – wide, medium, close ups – different perspectives, views, focus, lighting, etc. 

To get different angles and views of the photos, I chose to begin with straight framed shots to focus on the outfits in front of a door for a neutral setting. Throughout the movement, the shots become more wide to show the background of my home office as well. In addition to the wider shots, I also placed myself in a position for the rule of thirds

All together, what makes good visualization includes information, the story, the goal, and visual form. Through using a transition period with the pandemic, information about that period, a goal of showing the transition and how it can affect routines, then the overall design, I think this turned out as a successful photo essay. 

To view my essay, click on the link below! Enjoy!


Campbell, D. (2018, January 22). Why it’s time for visual journalism to include a solutions focus. (Module 4)

Cao, J. (2015, April 7). Web design color theory: how to create the right emotions with color in web design.  (Module 2)

Dahmen, N. (2017, November 22). How to Do Better Visual Journalism for Solutions Stories. (Module 4)

Fussell, G. (2020, May 16). The Psychology of Fonts (Fonts That Evoke Emotion).–cms-34943.  (Module 2)

McCandless, D. (2021). What Makes a Good Data Visualization . (Module 3)

Lien, J. (2019, November 21). The Four Principles of Visual Storytelling. (Module 1)

Parker, K. (2020, December 9). How the Coronavirus Outbreak Has – and Hasn’t – Changed the Way Americans Work. 

Shurbaji, E. (2014, December 17). Photo narratives. (Module 4)

Smith, R. (2020, September 20). The Science Behind WFH Dressing for Zoom. 

What is a Photo Essay? 9 Photo Essay Examples You Can Recreate. (2019, August 22). 

2 thoughts on “Transformations Happen: A Photo Essay

  1. Hey Julie!

    First off, props to you for even attempting to get dressed at the beginning of the pandemic because I started off in pajamas on day one. 😅

    I think you took such a unique route for your photo essay. It was helpful that you included different types of photo essay topics and specified that yours could be argued to be a photo story. I do think it could have benefitted the project a bit more had you included a solid stat on the percentage of people who started off in work attire and then transitioned to more leisurely clothing versus the statistic you used about the percentage of people who worked from home. I mention this because you state that the goal of your photo essay was to show the change in work attire for those working remotely, but we as an audience don’t have a baseline for the change based on the blog post alone.

    Your design analysis was spot on. It was incredibly creative to use the power of color gradients that we learned about in module two to visually show a transformational change. Your choice to start off in front of your door was also a nice touch, I got more of an Instagram vibe to parallel those who carefully plan out their Instagram poses versus the more laid back tone for your pajama photos.

    As far as your actual photo essay, I thought you did a great job. I loved that you specified “working from home” and “working mostly from home” to show that there was a difference between the wardrobe. I do think it could have added a little more to the overall photo essay had you changed your text/copy a bit for each one because it did get a little repetitive. Maybe this is where you could have included more working/dressing from home stats to highlight the difference (while also tying in what we learned about data visualization in module three).

    Overall, I think you did such an amazing job with your project! I was incredibly impressed by your choice of colors, design and overall topic. I’m looking forward to seeing more of your work!


  2. Julie,

    Your focus on transformation is evident. What I admire about your article more than any I have read is your attention to detail. You not only tell the story but you also dissect it for the reader. Revealing your color palate and font choices helped me to return to your imagery and understand the process involved.

    I don’t know if you meant something by this but to me it stood out that you did not include your face in any of these photos. While I know this was about the transformation of style from the beginning of this pandemic to now, it also removes the human element from the piece. If this was intentional to focus on the outfits than mission accomplished.

    My only critique are your angles. Most of these photos are taken straight on into a single perspective. I see the vertical and horizontal shifts but I wonder what it would look like should you have taken some close ups on the pajama pants for instance with their intricate patterns, or a different angle shooting down the desk to show a different pose of your workstation and yourself.

    Overall the transformation is clear and personally I must admit that we have all experienced that as well. I went from a shirt and tie every day to a t-shirt and gym shorts. Much less elegant than your fashion sense. Great work!


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