There are a few different paths I have gone down in search for inspiration and research. The most obvious was drawing from other photographers who have either photographed similar subjects or have a specific aesthetic and composition that I admire and relate to. Two of the photographers I have drawn from most are Jackie Nickerson and Alec Soth. Both teeter on the edge of fine art and documentary/photo-journalism and both display their work as individual pieces as well as collectively in a photo book. Jackie Nickerson's series 'Faith' is her documentation and portraiture of a monastic community in Ireland, not dissimilar in most regards to my own endeavor this summer in Ireland. 'Faith' served as a informative template to how I envisioned my time and efforts this summer at Kylemore, though I try to keep my own aesthetic and themes in mind that act as a key difference between my work and Jackie Nickerson's series. Alec Soth's muted colors and candid, raw portraits are both intriguing and emphatic. He captures the essence of these characters yet creates a unique distance that is palpable between himself and the subject. His color manipulation is soft and aesthetically pleasing to the eye.
Beyond my research within the realm of art I have also delved into researching within the fields of anthropology, theology, literature (mostly of Irish and Religious topics), and political science. Anything from scholarly articles by anthropologists about contemporary Benedictine communities to politically charged documentaries on the Catholic church have been used to inform my thesis and help conceive a variety of ideas I wish to communicate.
To highlight one piece of outside research that I have found to be important to my thesis is articles written by Anthropologist and Cambridge professor Richard Irvine. Irvine has spent many years studying and conducting fieldwork on English Benedictine Monasteries. His articles explain the fundamental essences of Benedictine life (i.e. looking in depth at The Rule of St. Benedict and what the key elements are of the Benedictine identity) and the experience of being a "peripheral participant" given he is going about the daily life of a monastic monk without the actual commitment of being one. These articles not only helped with the articulation of the similar sentiments I felt during my time at Kylemore Abbey but also provided me with critical information on the background of Benedictines and a farther reaching spectrum on the history and ideology of these cloistered community and how they function in today's climate.
Though I feel like I have a good beginning to the groundwork that will eventually shape and modify my thesis I feel as though I still have so much to uncover and much more research to navigate through in order to truly hone in on my themes and ideas that I want to tell through my images and text that will end up in the final product of my thesis.