ART 104-01 History of Photography
Professor: Marisa Sottos
Photographer Research Paper Assignment Sheet
Objective: Write a 3-5 page research paper on a photographer. Your paper will describe, analyze, and explore the
meaning and significance of their photographs. Your thesis can vary, but it must examine 3 or more examples of
the artist’s work. You can discuss how their personal life impacted their work, how their work fits in different art
movements etc. You can take a more abstract approach and discuss how the artist and their work impact the viewer.
What I’m looking for in your papers is an interesting perspective, knowledge of the artists and their works, and how
they connect to your thesis.
Once you selected a photographer, you must submit your choice for approval
• 3-5 Pages MLA Format
• Times New Roman 12pt Double Spaced
• In-text Citation and Bibliography Page required
• For full credit, please cite at least 3 sources
• Include images of the artwork you’re discussing in your paper after the bibliography page
o these do not count toward your page number goal
• Please remember to include your full name and the course title.
• Do not forget page numbers!!! (no page number on first page)
• READ YOUR PAPERS! Check for grammatical, spelling errors, and clarity.
MLA Format Resource:
IMPORTANT: The paper should be in your own words. Be sure to develop your original thoughts and explain
them clearly and thoroughly. I encourage you to reach out if you’re struggling. I will gladly review rough drafts
during office hours before the due date within reason. (not a week before the due date!)
• Remember to break your thoughts down to the core elements of the work.
• Sometimes the simplest aspects of a work are what strengthens and reveals its overall message.
• Be sure to choose an artist that gives you enough content and resources to write about.
• You may select any of the artists we discussed in class or you may select another photographer.
• You can base your paper around an artist you’ve seen in an online exhibition
• Avoid casual language and rambling: Have purpose in your writing.
Prepare to Write your Paper:
• Research articles, books, and other appropriate media to gather material. Research your
photographer, the time period, and the original purpose of their photographs (reversely, has the context
changed over time?). Wikipedia can be a good starting point, but DO NOT cite it as a source (check the
pages citations at the bottom of the page for credible resources, but always double check if its credible
once you’re there). Primary sources are always reliable! You can find them in the library (BOOKS!),
periodicals, magazines, reputable websites (galleries, institutions, anything with “.edu” or .”org” is usually
a safe bet).
• Collect and keep track of your sources. While you may not use all of them for your “official” 3 sources,
better to have several to get started. Be sure to keep notes so you can easily look things up later (names,
page numbers, etc)
• Draft an Outline. I cannot stress this enough!!! If you build an outline of your paper, it will not seem as
daunting. Knowing what you want to write, what you want to PROVE, will make the actual writing much
When Writing your Paper:
• Give full titles of your photographs, spell your photographer’s name CORRECTLY! Do not refer to the
photographer by their first name, ALWAYS write their full name at first mention, then you may refer to
their last name.
o EX: Dorothea Lange was a photographer working for the Farm Security Administration (FSA).
Lange’s most famous photograph is Migrant Mother.
• Use descriptions! A good description of a photograph will help support your analysis, observations, and
• Remember how to structure your paper:
o Strong Introduction that grabs the reader and introduces your thesis
o Body with several paragraphs (each paragraph supports a point you’re making)
o Thoughtful summary and/or conclusion that restates your thesis statement
• State what you’ve learned about the photographer and their work and how it reinforces your original
perception and understanding or how you discovered new aspects of the image that you did not initially
• Consider how the work of the photographer fits into the social or cultural influences of the period in which
it was made. These ideas will help you to analyze the context of the photographs you describe.
o EX: Photographs Lange made for the FSA during the Great Depression in the United States had a
specific intention to raise awareness of the plight of desperate farmers by documenting their lives
• Comparison can be an effective method of analyzing photographs. If you write about photographs made
recently, you may want to compare it to a similar type of photograph made at an earlier time (or vice versa)
and discuss the influence and/or differences. You could also compare your photographer’s work to other
photographers working at the same time, or perhaps were influenced by your photographer. In researching
the photographs, it should become clear what these influences and contrasts are. Do not force a comparison
that is awkward or incorrect.
Opportunity for Corrections:
If you hand in your paper on time, you will have the chance to make corrections on your returned paper. I
will mark it with corrections, you will make the necessary corrections and resubmit the corrected paper. I
will then adjust your grade based on the corrections.
• Middlesex County College Library:
• Writing Center:
ART 104-01 History of Photography