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Academic Writing Solutions: Top 20 Photography Research Paper Ideas


Although most people identify essay writing with an English class, many art history or studio art classes will actually require students to write an essay as well. In particular, students may be required to write a research paper on a topic in photography. These essay topics may range from historical approaches to style analysis to sociological implications.

Before choosing from one of the following 20 topics, students should make sure that they have understood all of the instructions. Certain teachers may require a specific essay length or limit the number of available topics. Rather than rewrite the entire essay, students should familiarize themselves with the instructions in advance.

  1. The History Behind the First Camera
  2. The Growth of the Camera in Taking Family Portraits
  3. 19th Century Realism and its Effects on Photography
  4. The Creation of the Modernism Movement in Photography
  5. The Origin and Usage of the Camera Obscura
  6. The Life and Influence of Diana Arbus
  7. Ansel Adams' impact on the Field of Photography
  8. Historic Use of Kodak's “Brownie” Camera
  9. Innovators in Photography: George Eastman
  10. Unusual Subjects: Photos of Migrant Farmers During the Great Depression
  11. Photographs of Beyond: Japanese Internment Camps
  12. The Portraiture Genre
  13. Contemporary Fashion Photography Techniques Over Time
  14. Societal Impact of Photos From the Atomic Bomb's Aftermath
  15. The Civil War: The First Photographed War
  16. The Use of Propaganda Photos During World War II
  17. Preserving Family History Through Photos
  18. ”Blue” Photographs in the Civil War: Early Incidences of Pornography in Photos
  19. The Effects of Crime Scene Photos on Jury Deliberation
  20. Documenting Racial Discrimination in the United States Through the Medium of Photography

Each of the previous topics can be modified or adjusted so that it suits the student's interests. Students should keep in mind that some of the topics will need to be narrowed down for shorter papers. On longer research papers, the thesis may need to be expanded so that there is enough information to fill the entire word count.

Before definitively selecting a research paper topic, photography students should first visit their school's library. Some libraries offer extensive selections of photography books, while others only have a minimal number of resources. Students will need to make sure that they can actually find adequate research materials before they begin the writing process. Once the research materials have been located, students are ready to begin their research paper.