Photography: Improving my research

At assessment of my first Open College of the Arts module, “Art of Photography”, research and context were highlighted as areas I needed to look at – particularly with regard to analysing the work of other photographers.  In my last assignment, my tutor highlighted there was little evidence of empirical research.  I’ve started looking to address this – starting with the visit to Manchester Art Gallery at the beginning of this month – and continue to do so.

I’ve been looking for other opportunities to engage in this manner more.  I’m going to go to the National Media Museum in Bradford in the near future and have been thinking about which of the Look/13 events in Liverpool could be of interest, along with other Redeye opportunities.

In addition to “getting out there” more to broaden my horizons, I’m also researching research; that is to say I’m reading “Behind the Image: Research in Photography” by Anna Fox and Natasha Carauna.  It’s proving to be an accessible and insightful guide to the subject, and I’m about half-way through – and have marked a fair few pages and sections to come back to…

Behind the Image: Research in Photography

Behind the Image: Research in Photography

Thinking about sources of research, recording my own inspiration and some methods on getting ideas down on paper has already proved useful.  My last assignment post reflects this as well as the mere act of thinking about research has also got me thinking more about the planning that goes in to a project overall.  The concept of recording characteristics of a subject, which I used for the Metrolink (not something from the book, but something that struck me as a good way to get themes down), I can see as a good possible starting point for planning the ideas and research that might be needed for a project – and is leading to me recording notes and ideas for the “potential projects” that have been lurking in my mind for a little while.  As the book mentions, over time I might expect to establish a “research framework” – my “tried and tested” approach to research, and I can already see that while that framework can’t be said to be “embryonic” at this stage, it’s certainly a glint in the eye.

Having written up my research, the practical help in the book reminded me of the familiar (from work) approach of mind-mapping.  Applying this to my photograph ideas helped me to get down a good number of ideas for the assignment:

"Mind Map"

“Mind Map”

This is the start of me focusing on this area, and I’ve picked out a few other things I intend to do to develop:

  • spend more time reading books and journals around the subject – theory/practice and other photographers’ work.
  • attend more exhibitions and talks
  • view/listen to more Podcasts on the subject.
  • think about how my other interests and thoughts inform my ideas for image and project creation.

….and in all the above cases I want to develop how I record my thoughts, as the process of getting them down on paper helps me to bring clarity to them as well as developing them further.  It’ll also serve as a useful resource to look back on in the future…

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