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"At the professional as well as the amateur level, photography is the most popular means of documenting structures. Photography is the least expensive, fastest, and easiest method of documentation. But photographs are also taken when measured drawings and histories are prepared. In such situations, photographs complement the other work. Photographs are more easily understood and can convey information not normally included in the other forms of documentation.

"A photograph can convey three-dimensional qualities, spatial relationships, current conditions, texture, and context..."

Lebovich, William L. , "Chapter 4: Photography," in Burns, John A., editor Recording Historic Structures, Washington, DC: The American Institute of Architects Press, 1989.


HABS/HAER Recording Standards, Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS) and the Historic American Engineering Record (HAER), National Park Service.

Data Fields for Images

Provide the following information on each photograph. Otherwise provide an identification/accession number on each photograph and contain the information below in the inventory list:

  1. Organization (if applicable)
  2. Structure and Location (address)
  3. Interior: Floor, Room, Elevation, Orientation
  4. Element/Detail, Scale, Materials (where applicable)
  5. Exterior: Elevation, Orientation, Element/Detail, Scale
  6. Materials (where applicable)
  7. Date of Photograph: Month/Day/Year
  8. Name of Photographer (Year © Name of Photographer), Company
  9. Reference to accompanying drawings, reports, site conditions
  10. Measurements: scale, color
  11. Numbering, if part of a series
  12. Identification/Accession Number
  13. Medium
  14. Format

Note: orientation refers to compass direction of camera to subject.

Archival Images (added fields)

  1. Collection
  2. Photograph ID
  3. Original negative ID
  4. Copy Negative ID
  5. Reproduction
  6. Credit


How to Improve the Quality of Photographs for National Register Nominations (NR Bulletin #23), by
Frederic J. Athearn including On the Road by Jeff Dean 1979, National Register Program, National Park Service.

Besser, Howard and Jennifer Trant, Introduction to Imaging: Issues in Constructing an Image Database (online version), Getty Standards and Digital Resource Management Program, Getty Conservation Institute, J. Paul Getty Trust, 1995.

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