Photographic collection research

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Description For your second short essay: Review the online catalogs of the photographic collections listed on blackboard under Content; select photographs you want to see (this can be a photographer you want to focus on for your research paper, or a specify type of photograph that you want to see in person). Make an appointment at a research library Make your visit and take notes while there (in the format allowed). If you have seen a digitized or book reproduction of the photograph, consider the ways in which the photograph(s) looks different when viewed in person. Write an essay reflecting on the experience of your library visit (in my case I visited the Guggenheim Museum) as well as your observations of the photograph as an object. Include the specific collection you visited and identify the photographs you viewed. The research paper requires that you make a visit to view original photographs in person and this assignment gets you there early in the semester. You will find that it is extremely different to see these works of art in person rather than in books or on your computer screen. So when you visit, pay attention to the specifics of what they are like as objects. Instructions for making appointments at libraries with photographic collections are on blackboard under Content. These visits will take you to the special, behind-the-scenes parts of the libraries, to see art works in their collections which are not presently on display to the public. This is a wonderful opportunity, but it takes time and advance planning to arrange. These libraries are very different from your neighborhood branch library, and in some ways, they are more like museums than like libraries. You need to follow special procedures when you go there. For a start, in order to make special research visits to see original photographs in the study room, you need to make appointments, in advance. The hours available for viewing works of art in the libraries’ study rooms are limited, so your group may have to compromise and reschedule other activities to make it possible. These visits usually require checking all books and bags before entering the study room, washing your hands before viewing materials, writing only in pencil, and handling the works of art in specific, careful ways which will be explained when you arrive. Ask if you may have permission to take photographs with your phone, without flash. The curators, librarians and archivists who work in the collections you visit will be happy to help you if you explain that you are new to this kind of research. There are no dumb questions—don’t hesitate to ask about anything you don’t understand! When you make your appointment, you will be expected to know what photographer you are interested in, and maybe which specific works. You can look these up in on-line catalogs before you make your appointment. It’s OK to ask to see many different images to familiarize yourself with his or her work if they are available, and you can ask the library staff who assist you if they have suggestions of related materials in their collections that you should view as well. Explaining your assignment, and saying that your professor required you to see the photographs in person will help clarify what your goals are. Take time to look very carefully at the photographs when you go.

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