I adapt these and develop these types of resources on a regular basis trying to find an easy one that fits all uses. This one is designed to be used in conjunction with examining and using written materials as well as the accompanying images.
Use this prompt sheet to generate questions and answers relating to your research.
Remember; in order to make your responses analytical you will need to ask what if type questions.
A personal approach – what do I bring? Yourself – your world – your experience. Use this approach first.
(1).Yourself – What are your first reactions to the work? Why does it make you think or feel like that? There are fundamental differences between us that condition the way we see things. Gender, race, class and age will all determine the way we look at and understand art, as will our attitudes, values and beliefs. What’s your take on this type of work before you commence your research?
Looking at the object – what can I see? – Colour – shapes – marks – surface – scale – space – materials – processes – composition
(2).Colour – What colours does the Photographer use? Why do you think s/he used these colours? How are they organised? What effects do they create? Do they draw your attention to them for a reason? Would it work better in B&W and vice versa? How is the colour used – Colour harmony, discord, contrast, monochromatically?
(3). Production values – size, format, scale, materials – how well has the work been produced, what camera has been used? Can you see that this is a high quality product destined for a certain market/use?
(4).Composition – How is the work organised and put together? How is the rule of thirds used? Is it presented in portrait or landscape format – why?
(5). Lighting & Mood – How is the light used, is it high-key or Low-key? What kind of lighting is being used; is it point or diffuse? High contrast or flat? Is the lighting ambient or mixed? Are there any clues as to how the lighting is being used and why? How is shape, form and texture affected by the use of the light – how relevant is this aspect?
(6).Location/Background/Scene – look at the scene and the background, do the details in the foreground and the background relate to each other, is the narrative of the image reinforced by this relationship? Is it constructed – how do you know? Would the narrative change if the viewpoint was changed – how/why?
(7).People images – Look at the body language, the clothes, facial expressions – how can these be read and deconstructed?
Looking at the subject – what is it about? Content – message – title – theme – type/genre
(8). Message – What does the work represent? Moving beyond a straight description of what you see, try to speculate on what the work might stand for. Are there symbols or conventions you recognise?
(9). Purpose – Do the images have an instantly recognisable purpose – what could they be used for, how and why? Who is the target market and why?
(10). Influence – Is the work influenced by the work of other photographers or artists?
Context – When – where – who – history – other arts – other fields of knowledge – the present – the hang – interpretation – the environment
(11). When – When was the work made? Can we make any connections between the work and the period that it was made?
(12). Who – Who made it? What do we know about the artist? Who was it made for?
(13). The present – How do people view the work today? Is it the same or different from how it might have been seen by different generations/eras?
What are the most effective forms of secondary research and why?
Journals – Such as British Journal of Photography, Aperture, Image, 8, AG and Hotshoe (All found in the library and LRC). You need to be very selective with your research. The most effective way is to use the journals listed above. If you look at, read and use these on a regular basis it will introduce you to a vast array of types of photography and so inspire and influence your projects throughout the course.
The articles in these magazines are short and concise, ram-packed with the type of information you’ll need to use in your analysis of research. The articles give you the information and you’ll learn the vocabulary required to do well on your course.
In addition video’s where the artist talks about their work or is interviewed. www.americansuburbx.com
Read the article – Now start to make sense of the images with the knowledge from the article and any further research – have a look to see if there is a Ted talk, or a Youtube interview with the artist. Make sure the information can be trusted.
Don’t use Wikipedia or blogs written by people without any qualification to comment on the work. Only use national newspapers (Be wary of some though). National and regional museums and galleries, check the credentials of the interviewers and writers using their Linkedin profiles or similar, are they qualified to comment on the work? If in doubt don’t use them. The safest way is to use the BJP and other edited journals.