You'll get the best results if you search for articles in a subject database that focuses on your topic.
Image Source: Jacob Riis. Bandit's Roost. 1888. Wikimedia Commons.
Two good starting points for photography: BHA & RILA or Art Full Text.
Searching for articles emphasizing history? Try America: History and Life or Historical Abstracts.
Newspaper articles will provide current event information, as well as historical information--search the New York Times (Historical) to find historical coverage of photography or photographers.
Primo is a discovery search tool that you can use to begin your research or to find additional resources.
Primo does not search everything the library has access to; it should not be used exclusively. It can, however, be a valuable additional resource.