National Register Photo Guidelines

Based on the National Register Photo Policy Factsheet, published by the National Park Service

Photographic prints are NO LONGER REQUIRED by the NPS nor the THC.

  • High-resolution digital files need not be submitted with the initial application to the THC, but photographs of some type will be required to determine eligibility, prepare presentations to the State Board of Review, and allow staff the opportunity to help select the most representative images for the final submission to the NPS.

  • Photographs submitted to the National Register of Historic Places as official documentation should be clear, well-composed, and provide an accurate visual representation of the property and its significant features. They must illustrate the qualities discussed in the description and statement of significance. Photographs should show historically significant features and also any alterations that have affected the property’s historic integrity.

  • The photographs must illustrate each exterior elevation, noteworthy interiors or details, and the streetscape.

  • The necessary number of photographic views depends on the size and complexity of the property. Submit as many photographs as needed to depict the current condition and significant features of the property. A few photographs may be sufficient to document a single building or object. Larger, more complex properties and historic districts will require a number of photos, but the THC will generally limit the number of photos to 25.

  • Copies of historic photographs can be particularly useful in illustrating changes that have occurred over time.

  • For historic districts, photographs must document representative properties mentioned in the nomination text as well as characteristic streetscapes.

For guidance on photographing architecture and other historic resources, refer to the National Register bulletin How to Improve the Quality of Photos for National Register Nominations

Guidelines for Digital Photo Files

  • Set your camera to save color digital images as RAW or uncompressed TIF files. If these formats are not available, save as JPGs, but do not alter the images (other than naming the files) before saving them to a CD or portable media for submission to the THC. Do not use the JPEG setting on the camera if a higher-quality setting is available.

  • The size of each image must be at least 1200 x 1600 pixels at 300 ppi (pixels per inch) or larger (2000 x 3000 preferred). The resulting files should be 10-20 megabytes each. If your photo files are significantly larger (40 MB or more), reduce the image size. THC staff can asist you if you have any questions about file size.

  • It is recommended that digital images be saved in 8-bit (or larger) color format.

  • The file name for each color electronic image saved on the CD-R must correspond with the photo log included in the nomination. For example, the image files for the Gunter Hotel in Bexar County, Texas, would be saved as “TX_BexarCounty_Gunter_0001.tif,” “TX_BexarCounty_Gunter_0002.tif,” and so forth. Use four-digit numbers.

For further information regarding the National Register, financial incentives, criteria for evaluation, or nomination procedures, contact the Texas Historical Commission’s National Register Coordinator.