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Photography Research

A research guide created for students in the photography program at Lesley University's College of Art & Design.

Established Photographers

If you're a pro at browsing for inspiration but you need a little help finding established photographers, try these tips for searching and browsing!  You can tell the difference between an established fine art photographer and someone who is only popular on Pinterest by Googling the photographer to see if they have:

  • gallery representation (do they have a bio page on a gallery website?)
  • shown pieces in exhibitions (you'll be able to find exhibition websites/catalogs online)
  • published pieces written about them (any exhibition reviews or interviews with the artist?)


If you're searching for a topic, for example black and white photographers, and you want to find reputable names your professors might recognize, try adding terms to help the search engine understand what you're looking for. contemporary black and white photography and ________________

  • -pinterest (adding a minus sign to your Google search will exclude any of those results)
  • gallery
  • museum
  • archive
  • exhibition
  • group exhibition
  • exhibition review

Add the term filetype:pdf when searching for exhibition catalogs if you want to see if there's a PDF version you can view online.

Use "quotation marks" around phrases so the search engine doesn't search for each work individually. In Google, any word in quotation marks must be included in any results.


An alternative to searching with keywords, you could start with a reputable publisher and browse around. If you struggle with word choice and keywords when searching, this more visual alternative to discovery could be just what you need!  You can browse based on what draws your eye, but keep an eye out for the language that artists use to describe their work. The more blurbs you read the better you'll get at searching with keywords.

If you like the arts scene in a specific city, see if there's an arts/culture digital magazine you can browse, for example:

Check out photography awards and photobook awards to find established, recognized artists:

Finding Work Similar to Your Own

There are a lot of reasons why you might identify with an artist:

  • Content (you both shoot portraits, landscapes, etc.)
  • Theme (you both explore concepts like abuse, institutional racism, etc.)
  • Purpose (e.g. you both try to effect change in your communities)
  • Visual Elements (you both shoot B&W, use symmetry, etc.)

Because a lot of these are abstract concepts, or technical details that people don't use to describe their work often, it can be hard to Google to discover similar artists.  You can try Googling "street photographers who shoot on black and white film using texture and value to create whimsical fantasy-like streetscapes" but you're just going to get a lot of articles about B&W photography.

Instead, it's important for you to always be consuming photography, so that you can keep an eye out for similar photographers.  You can try:

  • Following photography accounts on Instagram
  • Reading photography blogs
  • Browsing our photography magazines and journals
  • Browse Moriarty TR section
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