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AVT 457: Documentary Photography

Resources and tips for Prof. Wrbican's AVT 457 class.

Begin Your Research

Research is a cyclical, messy process. This guide will help you to locate sources, from databases to books to digital image collections, and offer guidance on research methods and processes for your documentary photography projects.

  • Find Background Information - Get a broad overview of your topic.
  • Find Books - Find exhibition catalogs and books to gain a broad and deeper understanding of your topic
  • Find Articles - Get in-depth information on your topic or artist through articles and exhibition reviews
  • Find Images - Find images to review and discuss, for inspiration, or illustrative purposes.
  • Understand Copyright & Fair Use - Policies and guides to learn more about copyright
  • Write & Cite - Guidelines for citing and captioning images, and citation help for your assignments
  • Get Help - Chat with a librarian or schedule an appointment

Search Strategies

  • Think broadly about your topic at first but then narrow and refine the focus. Consider combining only two terms; remember the more terms you add the fewer results you will get, so remove terms if you are not getting enough results.
  • You may want to limit by geography, adding terms like "United States" or "American."
  • Searching the book catalog and article databases is like a treasure hunt. One thing leads to another.
  • Try different search terms using synonyms (examples: working class or blue collar: news media or press).
  • Approach from different angles (consider subject databases from different fields like sociology, gender studies, economics, communication, and more). Think cross disciplinary.
  • One you find a good book or article, look at the author, the subject links (in the database record), and the bibliography. Mine the citations in the bibliography.
  • Keep a record of everything you find and where and how you find it.
  • Research is always a multi step process.

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