Disclaimer: This dissertation topic or title was produced by one of our dissertation writers to help university students with their studies.

Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this dissertation topic or title are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of UKDiss.com.

Photography Dissertation Topics

Info: 3072 words (12 pages) Dissertation Topic
Published: 16th Aug 2021 in Dissertation Topic

Reference this

Tagged: Photography

We have provided a selection of example photography dissertation topics below to help and inspire you.


An interesting subject to look into if you are interested in journalism photography. The following are just a few topic suggestions in this area to get you started.

Example photojournalism dissertation topic 1:

The impact of photojournalism on charitable giving: An investigation into the sponsorship levels received by runners who run for the Wessex Autistic Society Run

Seeking to further the hypothesis that ‘all publicity is good publicity’, this dissertation evaluates the differing levels of sponsorship achieved by five runners who have participated in the Wessex Autistic Society Run in each of the last five years. Conscious of issues of confidentiality, it notes how some runners have been able to double their sponsorship levels and that this rise in sponsorship has been concurrent to their use of photojournalism to chart their training and preparations for the race. Noting their experiences and evaluating sponsors and other competitors reactions to the runners use of this new media, this dissertation seeks to formulate a guide to enhancing sponsorship levels for future runners (and other organisations) arguing that effective use of photojournalism should be an essential weapon in the fundraising arsenal of all charitable bodies.

Suggested initial topic reading:

  • Cookman, C. (2009). American photojournalism: Motivations and meanings. Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press.
  • Paech, M. (2004). A photograph is worth more than a thousand words. Master’s dissertation, University of London.
  • Taylor, J. (2000). Problems in photojournalism: Realism, the nature of news and the humanitarian narrative. Journalism Studies, 1(1), pp. 129-143.

Origins and History

If you would like to write about the history of photography, including its origin and pivotal moments in time, then a subject based on the history of photography may be the way to go!

Example origin and history dissertation topic 1:

The closure of Jessops and similar such stores: An evaluation of its effect upon older amateur photography enthusiasts with specific reference to those resident in Bangor

Formerly the country’s largest photographic supply retailer, the closure of Jessops has an unprecedented effect on the lives of amateur photographers throughout the UK. Focusing on that generation of photographs who both prefer not to use the internet and additionally prefer non-digital cameras, this dissertation provides a qualitative analysis of what the closure of Jessops has meant to them. Deprived of a specialist retailer upon the high-street this is a dissertation that charts not only the concerns and fears of amateur photographers but also questions what the longer term effect of the closure may be upon those, at the other end of the generational scale, who are just, in their early teens, developing a passion for amateur photography.

Suggested initial topic reading:

  • Buse, P. (2010). Polaroid into digital: Technology, cultural form, and the social practices of snapshot photography. Continuum: Journal of Media & Cultural Studies, 24(2), pp. 215-230.
  • Cox, A. M. (2013). Information in social practice: A practice approach to understanding information activities in personal photography. Journal of Information Science, 39(1), pp. 61-72.
  • Wald, H. S., Norman, D. R. and Walker, J. (2010). Reflection through the arts: Focus on photography to foster reflection in a health care context. Reflective Practice, 11(4), pp. 545-563.

Example origin and history dissertation topic 2:

Charitable nude photography shoots: Changing opinions since the publication of ‘that’ Women’s Institute calendar

Where once the preserve of the garage mechanic and Pirelli, the nude female calendar has, since the publication of the Rylstone Alternative Women’s Institute calendar in 2000 and its immortalisation thereafter in the film Calendar Girls (2003), has seemingly changed public perceptions within the middle classes with regards to the acceptability of nudity in calendars – provided that it is ‘all in a good cause’. Since that date, the ladies of Oxford University’s colleges have similarly disrobed in support of the TravelAid cause; whilst in 2013, the ‘Gamebirds’ calendar and the Tynedale Hunt calendar depicted naked women in various country sports and hunting scenes to raise funds for the Midland and Great North Air Ambulance organisations respectively. Using both secondary sources and primary interviews with those who have been the subjects in the above mentioned calendars, this is a photography dissertation that addresses a range of issues and would also be suited to someone who wishes to further a career within the fundraising arms of the voluntary sector.

Suggested initial topic reading:

  • Floyd, C.C. (2005). Addressing nudity. Master’s dissertation, Edith Cowan University, Perth, Western Australia.
  • Renshaw, S. (2004). Naked breasts: Reading the Breast of Canada calendars. Atlantis: Critical Studies in Gender, Culture & Social Justice, 29(1), pp. 93-98.
  • Turton-Turner, P. (2007). The role of ridicule in naked charity calendars. Continuum: Journal of Media & Cultural Studies, 21(3), pp. 419-432.

Example origin and history dissertation topic 3:

The symbolic allure of the smoking cigarette: The decline of a photographic style icon, 1950 – 2012

Where once film stars and celebrities exuded sex appeal through the smoking of a judiciously placed cigarette betwixt parted lips, such imagery is now but a distant memory within mainstream fashion and art photography. Recalling classic images from the 1950s and 1960s this dissertation charts the decline of the cigarette as a photographic prop as well as the noting how societal attitudes to celebrities caught smoking by the paparazzi have changed. Combining photography, art history and social commentary this is a broad based dissertation that could, if the researcher wished, be focused on a specific country or genre of celebrity and/or film.

Suggested initial topic reading:

  • Distefan, J.M., Pierce, J.P. and Gilpin, E.A. (2004). Do favorite movie stars influence adolescent smoking initiation? American Journal of Public Health, vol. 94(7), pp. 1239-1244.
  • Gibson, B. and Maurer, J. (2000). Cigarette smoking in the movies: The influence of product placement on attitudes toward smoking and smokers. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 30(7), 1457-1473.
  • Hope, C. (2013). ”Politically correct’ BBC ignoring Harold Wilson’s pipe in five hour tribute, says Lord Donoughue’. The Daily Telegraph, 12th February 2013.

Example origin and history dissertation topic 4:

The rejuvenation of a retro classic: The Polaroid Instamatic camera

Saved from obscurity through going bankrupt, the return of the Polaroid instant camera in recent years has seen the re-emergence of a cultural and photographic retro classic. Commenting not only on design but also the quality of the pictures produced as well as the elation felt by users at the ‘instant’ nature of prints, this dissertation charts the rise, decline and rebirth of this unique photography camera. This is a dissertation that would benefit from primary research being conducted in the form of interviews with Polaroid enthusiasts (young and old) as well as a thorough reviewing of existing secondary literature on the merits of the camera and its brand association.

Suggested initial topic reading:

  • Bonanos, C. (2012). Instant: The story of Polaroid. Princeton: Princeton Architectural Press.
  • Earls, A. R., Rohani, N. and Cosindas, M. (2005). Polaroid. Charleston, SC: Arcadia Publishing.
  • Sarvas, R. and Frohlich, D.M. (2011). From snapshots to social media: The changing picture of domestic photography. London: Springer.

Photography Ethics

Ethics surrounding photography can be a particularly good route to take! Whether you choose to focus on celebrity photography, photography editing or the use of the photographs taken, you could find something you love to research within this subject!

Example photography ethics dissertation topic 1:

100% natural: A rejoinder as to the case not to ‘touch up’ celebrity glossy covers

Conscious of the negative effects that the ‘perfect, touched-up’ shot of celebrities may have upon adolescent teenage girls’ perceptions of body types, this dissertation queries whether the photography industry has a ‘duty of care’ to such vulnerable young adults. Using an array of case studies into eating disorders and self-harm (where there has been a causal link to body image), this dissertation also interviews professional photographs, beauty experts and models working within the industry. Combining primary and secondary data with an acknowledgement of wider societal concerns this is a cutting edge dissertation that has the potential, through the findings its presents, to impact upon legislating governing aspects of the photography and wider fashion industries.

Suggested initial topic reading:

  • Cortese, A. J. P. (2004). Provocateur: Images of women and minorities in advertising. Oxford: Rowman & Littlefield.
  • Emmison, M. and Smith, P. (2000). Researching the visual: Images, objects, contexts and interactions in social and cultural inquiry. London: SAGE.
  • Ruggerone, L. (2006). The simulated (fictitious) body: The production of women’s images in fashion photography. Poetics, 34(6), pp. 354-369.

Example photography ethics dissertation topic 2:

Privacy and the professional photographer: Are personal ethics sufficient?

Taking issue with the prevailing political and social climate that seems to suggest that greater regulation of the industry is needed so as to protect the privacy of persons such as the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, this dissertation seeks to rebalance the debate. Arguing that those who choose to be in the public sphere openly use photographers to further both their careers and their wider publicity profiles (as noted with regard to the 2013 performance of Beyoncé at the Super Bowl and the request to remove unflattering images by her agent), this study argues that such celebrities have, through their own actions, resigned their right to claim ‘abuse of privacy’ when a photo is published that they do not like. Accordingly, this dissertation argues that the decision as to whether or not to take a photograph and to thereafter seek its publication should rest on the individual ethics of the individual photographer rather than their needing to be a mandated and legislated code of ethics placed upon the workings of the profession.

Suggested initial topic reading:

  • Keith, S., Schwalbe, C.B. and Silcock, B.W. (2006). Images in ethics codes in an era of violence and tragedy. Journal of Mass Media Ethics, 21(4), pp. 245-264.
  • Schwartz, D. (2003). Professional oversight: Policing the credibility of photojournalism. In, Gross, L. Katz, J.S. and Ruby, J. (eds), Image ethics in the digital age. Minneapolis/St Paul, MN: University of Minnesota Press, pp. 27-51.
  • Wheeler, T. H. (2002). Phototruth or photofiction?: Ethics and media imagery in the digital age. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

Example photography ethics dissertation topic 3:

Protecting the vulnerable against photographic exploitation: Changing social mores over a thirty year period

In an interview carried out in early 2013, Kate Moss spoke of her having been exploited in her early career. Early pictures of the glamour model Sam Fox (she started her career as a Page Three girl in the Sun when aged 16), would now be deemed child pornography. This is a photography dissertation that seeks to understand the seemingly confusing and sometimes almost contradictory regulations governing photography with regard to erotica, the need for child models (by, for instance, Marks &Spencer), changing age restrictions upon nude modelling, the ability of parents to photograph their children without fear of prosecution, and the difference between choreographed legitimate shots and seemingly identical (but illegal) provocative posing.

Suggested initial topic reading:

  • Gross, L. (ed.) (1988). Image ethics: The moral rights of subjects in photographs, film and television. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Tester. K. (2001). Compassion, morality and the media: Issues in cultural media studies. Milton Keynes: Open University Press.
  • Westerbeck, C. and Meyerowitz, J. (1994). Bystander: The history of street photography. London: Little, Brown.

Specialised Photography

If you have an interest for a more specialised area, then maybe writing about a more niche topic would be best. Whether you like taking photographs of trains, landscapes, architecture or crime scenes, specialised photography may be the best way to get your creative juices flowing!

Example specialised photography dissertation topic 1:

Capturing the ethereal beauty of landscape: A discussion of the merits of black and white photography over colour

Building upon the recent trends within amateur photography that have seen a renaissance for the use of sepia and black and white exposure, this dissertation presents an annotated portfolio of shots and opinions relating to the Cotswolds. Interviewing seasoned landscape photographs as well as the photograph-buying public (as measured at the food and craft fairs held within Stroud, Gloucestershire, over a four month period); this is a dissertation that provides an insight into current trends within photography as well as personal opinions. Using face to face interviews, it is envisaged that this dissertation will use both primary and secondary data in addition to presenting a portfolio of original landscape compositions.

Suggested initial topic reading:

  • Berdan, R. (2004). Composition and the elements of visual design. Canadian Nature Photographer. Torino: Cultor College.
  • Hedgecoe, J. (2005). Complete guide to black and white photography. London: Collins & Brown.
  • Hoffmann, T. A. (2012). The art of black and white photography: Techniques for creating superb images in a digital workflow. Santa Barbara, CA: Rocky Nook.

Example specialised photography dissertation topic 2:

The enduring appeal of railway photography: An analysis of steam train photography and passenger experiences upon the Weardale Heritage railway 2010 – 2012

Situated less than ten miles from the National Railway Museum depot at Shildon, Co. Durham, the Weardale Heritage railway that runs from Bishop Auckland to Stanhope is one of the country’s newest heritage railways ventures. Noting the appeal that steam locomotives hold for photographers who have a penchant for photographing trains, this dissertation evaluates the experiences of 20 keen amateur photographers who have charted the development of this heritage railway over the period 2010 – 2012. Mindful of the difficulties that weather can hold for such enthusiasts, when it comes to light, and lens exposure, this dissertation proffers a range of suggestions by which heritage railways could improve the life of the train photographer – from designated ‘photo hides’ upon routes, to the installation of variable outside lighting controls at key stations.

Suggested initial topic reading:

  • Garrod, B. (2007). A snapshot into the past: The utility of volunteer-employed photography in planning and managing heritage tourism. Journal of Heritage Tourism, 2(1), pp. 14-35.
  • Marien, M.W. (2006). Photography: A cultural history. London: Laurence King.
  • Solomon, B. and Gruber, J. E. (2003). Railway photography. Iola, WI: Krause.

Example specialised photography dissertation topic 3:

War photography: A record of the British military presence in Afghanistan, 2001-2012

There is a long-standing tradition of artistic criticism of American war photography, but relatively little has been written about the British tradition of battlefield photography. The Annual British Army Photographic Exhibition provides a glimpse of war as soldiers see it; this dissertation explores the photographs presented in this exhibition over the period of British involvement in military action in Afghanistan, and considers the differences between the battlefield photographs taken by soldiers, and those taken by journalists and other, non-military, photographers. Additionally, the thesis examines how British war photography resembles that by American soldiers, and speculates on the reasons for such variation.

Suggested initial topic reading:

  • Andén-Papadopoulos, K. (2009). ‘Body horror on the internet: US soldiers recording the war in Iraq and Afghanistan’, Media, Culture & Society, Vol. 31(6), pp. 921-938.
  • Taylor, J. (1991). War photography: Realism in the British press. London: Routledge.
  • Zelizer, B. (2004). ‘When war is reduced to a photograph’. In Allan, S. and Zelizer, B. (eds), Reporting War: Journalism in Wartime. London: Routledge, pp. 115-135.

For further guidance on dissertation topics see our guide on how to choose a dissertation topic.

Cite This Work

To export a reference to this article please select a referencing stye below:

Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.

Related Services

View all

Related Content

All Tags

Content relating to: "Photography"

Photography is the method or practice of creating images by recording light on a light sensitive image sensor or light sensitive material such as photographic film. The word photography comes from the Greek for light, “photos”, and to write, “graphein”, meaning writing in light.

Related Articles