The Importance of Research

It doesn’t matter what the subject of our photography is. In all cases we need to know something about the subject, especially if we are embarking on a project that will include multiple photographs.  If we are engaging in street photography we should know something about the area we are photographing.  Take New York City for example.  There are many neighborhoods, many well defined areas, all with their own unique history.  Lower Manhattan, the scene of the horrific attacks on 9/11 has a different vibe today than it did 20 years ago and a different look altogether.    When photographing in foreign countries you should study the history and geography of the areas you will visit.  Having this background knowledge will help you craft better pictures because you will view subjects in a deeper, more thoughtful way. You will also be able to answer the question “why am I photographing this?”

Working on the Lords of the Isles project has led me down many “rabbit holes” but from each one I have extracted another tidbit of information that informs my photography.  The ruined castles and ancient grave slabs have more meaning when placed in historical context and tied to specific people and events.  When you can actually  “feel” the history beneath your feet you find you can record the sites in personal and unique ways.

So, even when it feels inconsequential, read up on your subject/location.  Store information from other reading you do and even movies and television you watch. It will all come around to informing your photography and make you a more discerning observer of life around you which will invariably manifest itself in your work.