I am doing my Masters in Photography at the moment, and am right at the start of my big project. I had been looking around for suitable books to help in the organisational aspect of the research process and various research methods as well. I figure that setting up things clearly from the beginning is crucial to a potentially successful outcome of one's project and dissertation. However, I found absolutely nothing in terms of guide books. Most research "guide" books are social science or business based, and there is very little out in the market for the arts - and nothing that I could see that was specifically for photography and that is also practice based research. So, through a ton of digging I came across, Basics Creative Photography 03: Behind the Image: Research in Photography
. Well, Hallelujah!
It covers all the aspects of research in photography. There is so much in this book that I do consider it an excellent starting point that allows the reader to investigate further. So yeah, it's an excellent sign-post of a book.
The Chapters are as follows:
2/ Developing Ideas through research
3/ Practice as research
4/ Compiling your research
5/ Research as practice
6/ The impact of research
Bibliography and webgraphy (very good!)
Bonus - working with Ethics
The Highlights of the Book (for me) include:
1/ The images and descriptions of the images. The images selected are relevant to each chapter and discussion, and they also introduce a great deal of contemporary photographers. I would have perhaps liked slightly longer image descriptions and more analysis.
2/ A list of photographer's blogs. I personally had a hard time finding these blogs on my own, but Basics Creative Photography 03: Behind the Image: Research in Photography
lists a fair few and from there, they link to other photographer's blogs so it is an excellent starting point and time-saver.
3/ Very good description and websites of the various research and archival institutions (libraries, museums etc) that are available to the researching photographer. Just note that they are primarily UK based. This will help me make the most of my time now that I can zero in on the relevant institution.
4/ The case studies. In the various sections, there are case studies that describe how other photographers came to do their work. It helps to highlight that photography doesn't just happen in a vacuum or even on the spur of the moment. It's a process to make an image.
5/ The Working with Ethics section asks some pointed questions which helps to focus the research.
6/ A final plus point is that this book is well written. There are far too many academic/learning books that are so dry you could choke. It is written by two photographer artists/professors who know their stuff and yet keep it light and clear - thank goodness!
After reading through Behind the Scenes a couple of times, however, I felt I was still wanting more. Is this perhaps a good thing? I don't know. The book is 168pp, and any longer would perhaps require a different book. In fact, I would say that each chapter could be a whole book because of the level of depth that each chapter could have. For example, it touches upon Proposals for Funding in the first chapter. This subject (proposal writing for funding a photography project) in itself could be a whole book, and yet in Behind the Scenes it is three paragraphs. But then that could be because I enjoy reading, writing, and discussion as much as I do photography equally, and yet I know a lot of photographers who just prefer looking at images. So, I can see that it was a choice that the editors of the book needed to make - and not an easy one at that!
So, to me, this book is a fantastic starting point for what could be a whole series. Researchers in photography would greatly benefit from the purchase in my opinion, and I can see this book becoming part of every photographer's library.