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2 Developing ideas throughresearch > How research informs practice - Pg. 52

L L L L L L L L L L L L L L L L L L L L L L L L L L JJ4JJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJ L L L L L L L L L L L L L L L L L L L L L L L L L L Research informs practice in many different ways. Knowledge gained through the research process will contribute to forming a photographer's approach to making work. It may be as simple as influencing a style of working or the choice of props and surroundings. It could be that background research reveals new information about a place or people. It could tell you more about a society, a way of thinking, the shape or colour of something, the history of a place -- almost anything that tells a story in one way or another could be part of your research. We have been talking about background research by looking at libraries, archives, lectures and vernacular photography. All of these can aid the understanding of a subject in terms of why it might be interesting to make photographs, as well as how to develop visual strategies for the production of photographs. It is clear that the sources of a photographer's research will be extensive, very varied and not always explicit in the final body of work. In order for this research to form a valuable and continuing resource, it should be archived. A research archive is a rich resource, both for the photographer and for future researchers trying to discover how and why a photograph worked. 52 How research informs practice 2.15 2.15 Title: from `21st Century Types' Photographer: Grace Lau In her book Picturing the Chinese: Early Western Photographs and Postcards of China (2009), Grace Lau explored photographic portraits made by Westerners in China during the turbulent years between the Opium Wars and the Boxer Rebellion. Using her 30- year-old Hasselblad camera, Lau took on the role of the `imperialist photographer', documenting her `exotic' types in Hastings, in the UK, in order to respond to the historic situation whereby foreign photographers recorded the `exotic' Chinese people. As a British photographer of Chinese descent, Lau's photographs reference both cultures past and present and raise interesting questions about the way culture is stamped onto us via the constructed set of the traditional high-street studio.