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Photography Research


This guide is intended to help Photography students find resources and boost their research skillz. Here are some other guides you might find useful!

Art & Design Research Guide: For in-depth research help, including tips and tools
Visual Media Guide: For resources to help with finding, citing, and legally using visual media
Professional Resources Guide: For professional resources, like help finding jobs and writing an artist's statement

When doing research, try starting with @LL Search, it searches everything @ Lesley Library, including journal databases, book catalogs, eBook libraries, encyclopedia entries, newspaper articles, and streaming media!


Image of a book for page aesthetics Are you looking to place a hold on a book from another Boston-area library? Are you only looking for books, and you want to limit your search to one Lesley library? You can still do that in our FLO catalog!

Library Subscriptions

As an alternative to searching with keywords, you could start with a photo magazine and browse around. If you struggle with word choice and keywords when searching, this visual method of discovery/inspiration could be just what you need!

Try one of the journals below, or search for your favorite magazine/journal by title!

Citing/Captioning Images

OWL Purdue Citation Manual
Scroll through the different types of resources to make sure you're citing the specific kind of book, article, etc. that you're using

Excerpt, from OWL Purdue Citation Manual:

A Physical Work of Art, Exists in a Museum/Gallery:

Provide the artist's name, the work of art italicized, the date of creation, the institution and city where the work is housed. Follow this initial entry with the name of the Website in italics, and the date of access.

Goya, Francisco. The Family of Charles IV. 1800. Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid. Museo Nacional del Prado, Accessed 22 May 2006.

Klee, Paul. Twittering Machine. 1922. Museum of Modern Art, New York. The Artchive, Accessed May 2006.

A Digital Work of Art, Doesn't Exist in a Physical Museum/Gallery Collection:

If the work cited is available on the web only, then provide the name of the artist, the title of the work, and then follow the citation format for a website. If the work is posted via a username, use that username for the author.

Adams, Clifton R. “People Relax Beside a Swimming Pool at a Country Estate Near Phoenix, Arizona, 1928.” Found, National Geographic Creative, 2 June 2016,


Critical/Analytical Annotation:

Under the citation, include 1-3 sentences covering the basics:

  • Describe the resource (book, photobook, exhibition catalog, journal article? images or just text? general info or specific?)
  • Summarize the content as it relates to your research/how you'll use it (is it evidence to support your claim, just background info for context? is it more technical/practical info you need?)
  • Critique the research or work (how do you know you can trust the author, are the artists established? what perspective are they coming from- a critic or a maker?)

Example (click here for a Google doc with more examples):

DeGuzmán, María. Buenas Noches, American Culture : Latina/o Aesthetics of Night. Indiana University Press, 2012. EBSCOhost,,ip&db=cat05473a&AN=les.1401697&site=eds-live&scope=site.

This is a critical text analyzing Latina/o aesthetics across disciplines and is meant to be part of scholarly discourse on the topic of “night” imagery across art and literature in the Caribbean, Colombia, Central and South America, and the US.  There is a broad introduction with the author’s overall analysis on the topic, as well as chapters covering specific subtopics. As my research investigates night imagery in photography, this text will serve to support my claims that such imagery can be strongly tied to culture and therefore used differently by photographers around the world.  There is a chapter entirely about the perspective of queer Latinx poets and artists, which is one I hadn’t considered.  The author is Director of Latina/o Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and is writing from the perspective of a literary/art critic.

Personal Annotation:

An annotation should include 1-2 sentences about each of the following:  

  • Summarize the resource
  • Speak to how it connects back to your work
  • Evaluate it (is it reliable? What are the author’s qualifications? Is it introductory writing or written for experts? For amateur photographers or professional?). 

Annotating an Image:

  • Put the citation first
  • Then write a short paragraph
    • short description of the work and the artist,
    • explanation of how this work is similar/dissimilar to your own,
    • focus on how you might use this work (as comparison to your own, as inspiration for a future direction you might take, to support a certain argument you're making in a paper, etc.)