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Research – what needs to be covered?

Researching photographers for coursework is easy, just ask yourself if you’ve covered these 4 basic areas:

Set out the basics.


  • Biography - This can be paraphrased. But be aware that alone this scores very little on the grade front, as it shows little of your understanding about the photographer or their work.

  • What drew you to this photographer and their work?

  • What is the work saying, what is it about?

Image analysis
  • Technically how was the image produced?

  • What do you like about the images – what opinions have you formed?

  • What atmospheres, mood, emotions have been created within the images?


  • What have you taken from the work?

  • How will it influence your shoot?

  • What techniques and methods will you use?

  • What atmospheres, mood and emotions do you hope to create?

  • When looking at your own work how can we see the influence of the research?

  • What are you trying to say, what is your work about?

Some things to do and some to avoid



Show passion, you can choose from all the photographers in the world, so have some passion for the ones you have chosen.

No one produces work for no reason, so show you understand this by knowing its purpose, was it originally a fashion shot, was it a work of provocative art; the photographer had a reason to take the image, what was it?

Doing work for the grade is fine, but why not act like a proper artist and try and communicate a belief, opinion, fear or love of your own through your work.

Mix the styles of two photographers together to make something new, add a reference to a film or book and you might actually produce something uniquely you.

...copy someone else’s image to closely, it shows a lack of creativity on your side, instead take the lighting from one image, the pose and setting from some others and then throw in your own ideas.

There is a tendency to write how you think the lecturer wants you to; “I like this image because of the use of slow shutter speed and contrasting light”... it’s a lie, by all means show you understand what settings were used, but no one likes an image because of the settings, write about what actually drew you in. Show some passion.

Don’t do the research after you have taken the images, this way you can’t learn anything that might actually help or inspire you; do the research first and steel their ideas. After all, thats what every rich and famous artist has done!

© Nigel Watts 2011-2016 Contact/About