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Photography Guidelines

What to photograph

The National Register requires representative photos for nominated properties. For a single property, this can usually be achieved with 10-12 photos. For properties with several resources or for historic districts, the number will vary.  However, it is at the discretion of the Division of Historic Preservation and Archaeology (DHPA) to determine if the number of photographs submitted adequately documents the resource (s) or district.

  • Individual properties: views should include all sides of the exterior and any exterior details and overviews of the interior and any interior details. Multiple properties/historic districts: general views, streetscapes, structures, objects, and sites should be documented.  It is not necessary to photograph each building separately or to have an image of every resource. The applicant should strive for a blend of contributing and non-contributing properties from a variety of time periods, sizes, and architectural styles.
  • It is important that alterations, changes, or additions be included in the photographs. Do not intentionally exclude those portions of historic properties. The National Register acknowledges degrees of alteration, but they must be documented in both the text and accompanying photography. Otherwise an inaccurate image of the resource is conveyed.

Please do not embed any images into the body of the nomination.  It is not necessary to include current images in the document.  Historic photos, maps, or other images may be included at the end of the document.

The National Register will accept photos in one of two formats:  color digital or 35mm black and white (see below for specifications).  Please do not submit photography in mixed formats—use either all digital or all 35mm film. All photographs must be current. It should be noted that digital photographs are preferred.

Digital Photography

  • CD-R non-rewriteable archival gold only
Media Labels:
  • Archival CD labeling markers or direct print CD
  • Include resource name, multiple property documentation form (if applicable), County & State

Please note that one (1) non-archival CD can initially be submitted with the nomination materials in order for the DHPA to determine that the resource(s) or district is adequately documented and that the photographs meet the current National Register photo policy. 

Once that has been determined, two (2) copies of the non-rewriteable archival gold CD will need to be submitted to DHPA prior to the nomination being scheduled for presentation to the Indiana Historic Preservation Review Board.


Each image should meet the following specifications:
  • Original capture .tif or raw converted to .tif
  • Jpeg images may be converted to .tif format, provided the resulting images meet the  size specifications
  • Pixel depth or dimension minimum 3000 x 2000
  • 300 dpi (camera default is usually lower, adjust as needed when saving files to CD)
  • RGB Color

Image Labeling:

Each photo should be labeled according to the following:
  • State_County_Resource Name_Multiple Property Document (if applicable)_Image number
    • (Example: IN_AllenCounty_SmithHouse_0001)
    • In order to have a 4-digit photo number, insert leading zeroes
  • The CD must contain a photo log (see below) with the National Register-required labeling information (Name of photographer, date, description)
    • A PDF or Word document of the log from the nomination is acceptable

Creating a digital photo log

The individual image files must be labeled and there must be a photo log for all photos saved onto the archival gold CD. The photo numbers of the saved digital images must correspond to the photo log. The log must contain the seven identification items that the National Register requires (see below under Labeling Standard Print Photography). The archival gold CD should be labeled with the name of the property, the county, and state where the property is located (see above under Image Labeling for an example).

Please do not include any other text (ex: digital version of the nomination text) on the same archival gold CD as the photos and photo log. In all likelihood the nomination will have some revisions and, therefore, an out of date version of the text would be submitted to the National Register.

The DHPA can only accept final digital images on a non-rewriteable archival gold CD. Images cannot be downloaded directly from camera memory chips. The DHPA cannot accept images via email.

Standard 35 mm Black and White Print Photography

The National Register will continue to accept archivally processed true black and white photography. Photographs must be black and white images from camera-exposed photographic film printed on silver-emulsion fiber-based papers or silver emulsion resin-coated (RC) papers using archival black and white processing. Images printed on color paper or utilizing color processing will not be accepted.

Photos should be at least 4x6 but 5x7 are preferred. All prints must have at least ¼-inch white border.

The DHPA requires either two complete sets of prints OR a single set of prints and the negatives. In addition to the black and white prints, DHPA requires 10 to 12 digital images (that correspond to black and white images) that can be uploaded into the State Historic Archaeological and Architectural Research Database (SHAARD) once the property or district is listed. These digital images do not need to meet the above specifications.

Labeling Standard Print Photography

Label the photos with pencil or archival photo-labeling pen. Do not use ink, ballpoint or regular felt tip pen. Do not affix photos to archival paper or any other material using staples, paper clips, glue, or other means. Photographs with adhesive labels or corrective liquid (White-out) will not be accepted. Improperly labeled photos will need to be replaced.

Each photo must have the following information either on the back or on Continuation Sheets:

  1. Name of property (for districts, list the name of the individual building shown, followed by the name of the district).
  2. County and state where property is located.
  3. Name of photographer.
  4. Date of photograph.
  5. Location of photograph negative/CD.
  6. Description of view, indicating direction camera is facing.
  7. Photograph number.