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fashion photography thesis ideas needed!

nina ginger , Sep 05, 2010; 06:23 p.m.

Hi all!
I'm writing a dissertation on fashion photography for my master's degree and need some help from you!
Basically it's a research project so i have to conduct a research with questions and questionnaires to experts/non experts but i'm struggling to find a good research topic.
There are topics previously treated such as the consequences of fashion images on women's body, anorexia, smoking, nudity, feticism..so it wouldn't be interesting to choose one of them.

Can you help me???
I'd be greatful forever!!


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Michael Axel , Sep 05, 2010; 06:38 p.m.

Nina, I'm having trouble understanding how you could be a graduate student and not have several ideas that are near and dear to your heart. Is there not a subject that you are absolutely passionate about? Do you have to conduct research, or do you want to conduct research?

I love fashion photography, and fashion in general. If I had the time, and I was in your shoes, I'd love to spend the time to understand how celebrity fashion influenced photography, like Jackie O's De LaRenta gowns, and how the press photographed them, or the same with the current first lady. Or how photography reflects contemporary lifestyles, from lighting to color to point of view. Or how the disruptive technology of DSLRs has changed the way shoots are done, and possibly degraded the quality of images. Or study how images are more the product of the photographer and designer's eye, instead of just about the model, now that photos can be edited. Or how Hollywood has influenced and made fashion photography more elaborate, comparing the simple cocktail party images of the 60's and 70's to today's fashion photography, like Annie Leibovitz, and what her editors think of her budgets. Or how fashion images have become surreal because editing software allows a photographer or designer to do as much processing as the mind can come up with.

Surely you must have enough passion to find your own topic (of which there are thousands). If not, perhaps you're not motivated by the field you are in.

nina ginger , Sep 05, 2010; 06:56 p.m.

thanks for your help Michael!
I'm actually NOT a photography student and I have to write the thesis on this topic because of my supervisor! Therefore, I'm having so many troubles in finding the right topic..I love photography and I photograph a lot but never done fashion and my course is more about management of the creative arts, (in this case, management of fashion photography). It's not that hard to find an interesting topic to write about, the problem is the research, interviewing people and link the topic to a managerial issue like branding, marketing and so on.
Thanks again for your help, there are a couple of hints that i'm taking into consideration!

Marlon Kuhnreich , Sep 05, 2010; 10:16 p.m.

With the recent explosion of photography and home studios thanks to digital, you should do a study to see if regular people can tell the difference between a fashion shot taken by a famous photographer vs. one that was taken by a hobbyist with a $500 camera. You could examine if it's really important for fashion shoots to hire a stylist, makeup artist, hair stylist, photo assistants, digital techs, retouchers, creative directors, etc...
Is fashion about expensive production values, or a mood? Do these teams help or dissuade that?

Starvy Goodfellows , Sep 06, 2010; 06:03 a.m.

Research is a skill that can be learnt. Just choose a topic. You don't have to be that interested in it since you are not so keep on this dissertation anyway. Go to a cafe or bar. If you are good looking, talk to any guy and give them your list of questions. Alternatives would be to use facebook and get all your friends to help out. Research at lower postgraduate level is all about methodology rather than what you find out. Your sample is unlikely to to based on a representative sample of the world population so the skillset here is all about extracting the detail from your results, good or bad and analysing it.

Alan Johnson , Sep 06, 2010; 10:30 a.m.

How about:

"The many ways of becoming a paid fashion model"

Have a look on youtube.com, quite a bit interest in this.

nina ginger , Sep 06, 2010; 01:11 p.m.

thank you all for your suggestions!
i've talked to my supervisor and he suggested to write about the lack of originality in fashion photography nowadays, referring mainly to the mainstream magazines like Vogue, Elle...i must say this is quite true if you look at the commercial shots (not editorial spreads), same pose, perfect faces, a lot of editing that leads to perfection, unreal images..

I was thinking to write about the fact that fashion photography today is more about selling dreams, an identity and the unreal rather than the clothes, and the main way to do it is through editing, retouching and aiming to perfection. In doing this, customers' buying behaviour is influenced by the ideal of perfection, dream, spectacle and having an identity (what clothes represent) rather than the clothes as simple garments.
For the research, i was thinking to interview experts in the fashion photography field such as editors, photographers, art directors and ask about the standard requirements of a fashion shot, how much retouching/editing is required, how much freedom is given to photographers when shooting (since in almost all fashion commercials models look the same, same pose, face, attitude..) and if they specifically aim to perfection/unreal.
As for the customers, I was thinking to conduct a survey to see if they are happy with what they see on the magazines, if they would like to see something closer to reality, what is the first thing they notice in a fashion photo (the model, the item, the context) etc...

Does it make sense to you? because this thesis has to be related to management issues such as branding, marketing...and mine would be fashion photography as a means to brand and identity..

Marios Forsos , Sep 07, 2010; 05:14 a.m.

To Michael A: "the disruptive technology of DSLRs has changed the way shoots are done, and possibly degraded the quality of images"...Jeez...I mean, really.... totally uncalled for, opinionated and unsubstantiated blanket statement...why?

John Crowe , Sep 08, 2010; 02:52 p.m.

An easy one for a college student would be how the highly idealized and unreal photography of the fashion magazines affect the self image thoughts of young women (other college students). Find out what their opinions are and if they think that those photos represent an attainable or even practical look. If you could find young women that have not seen too many fashion magazines you could see how their self image differs from the women who follow fashion.

nina ginger , Sep 09, 2010; 03:06 p.m.

Thank you so much for all your replies, I didn't expect them to be so many and accurate.
You really gave me great and interesting suggestions.
I spoke to my supervisor again and I finally chose my topic, that is to say my research question:
"Should Fashion Magazines Be Forced to Disclose Photographic Manipulation?"

It's a neverending dabate on which there are so many different opinions about..

I would like to analyse the issue from 2 different perspectives:

1- industry professionals (editors, photographers, stylists..) whose interest is mainly business
related (sell the magazine, brand identity, possible budget reductions thanks to the possibility of retouching etc..). Ask questions like "why is manipulation necessary" "which level is considered acceptable" "are you aware of the consequences that fake images have on people" "who decides the level of manipulation required"...
2- customers and normal people: see if they are all aware that all photos are retouched, if they would like to see more reality..
If I had to decide the topic I'd probably have chosen a more "creative" one but my course is business oriented so I have to talk about the business of fashion photography..
What do you think of the topic?

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