More Photo Tips for CHCs--Page 2 of 5

The Medallion featured some photography tips for County Historical Commission (CHC) appointees. We want our pictures to document projects and events in ways that will help others see the value of preservation.

We have created five photo tips webpages that address a variety of picture-taking challenges. Photo Tips, page 1, touched on staging interior event photos. How about exterior photos? The same concepts still apply as discussed on the previous tips page--consider the lighting, the background, the composition, and the people. This page illustrates how a series of pictures can take viewers on a journey.

Still They Ride

Years ago, Austin had a trolley system that ran the length of Congress from the University of Texas campus to Town Lake. The History Programs Division (HPD) staff took the trolley downtown to have lunch in the 2nd Street District.

Above, the HPD staffers are standing around and trying to figure out what to do. They all seem to be having their own conversation and I'm not exactly sure where they are or why they're on the side of the road. Consider how the picture below provides information based on how the image was composed.

This picture shows HPD staffers posed with the bus stop signage beside them and the Capitol in the background. The church facade to the right tells me that they are at the intersection of Congress and 16th Street, along the block where THC's complex of offices are located. They are smiling (big plus) and in an order that makes it easy to state who is pictured.

Participants (left to right) are Judy George-Garza, Greg Smith, Charles Peveto, Cynthia Beeman, Anne Shelton, Laura Casey, Carlyn Hammons, Adrienne Campbell, and Linda Henderson who is holding little Lydia Campbell.

Here we go! Now, you get to ride along on their journey.

The photographer had to deal with low light levels and trolley poles but he managed to capture smiles on each face! The more pictures you take, the more likely you are to catch usable shots. And, remember to ask people to pose! Take some of the whole group and then zoom in on a few people at a time. Closer shots highlight details of the people, the trolley, and the trip, which may be lost in the group shots.

What happens next on my coworker's journey? Don't you want to know where they go and what they do? I do, too, but these were the only images that I found which were in focus and well-lit. That's why it's so important to keep snapping photos throughout a project or event and ask others to take pictures, too. Even the planning stages of a project can document important aspects of your preservation efforts.

Supplementing Photo Documentation

So, do we just give up on sharing the story? Of course not!  There are several ways to supplement an image or collection of images to help viewers understand more about a pictorial journey. We asked HPD staff what they remembered about this trip to gather more information about the pictures that we found. Enhance your pictorial story by including the following information:

  • Captions;
  • Quotes from participants or viewers of the project or event;
  • Quotes from people and organizations who may have benefited from the project or event;
  • Funny or touching anecdotes that complement your pictures;
  • Comments that summarize the project or event; and
  • Comments that tell others about positive outcomes or next steps for your project or event.

Involving others in documenting events does require effort but it is essential in order to provide a well-rounded description of your organization's efforts. Gathering different perspectives on an event can clarify or correct information in addition to enhancing the overall story you want to tell.

Click here to proceed to Photo Tips, page 3.