Learn: How do I select Images?

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Images for a site must be selected with great care. They are not the first 6-8 images that you find. one of the wonderful things about working on a digital app format is that we are not just relying on text to tell our stories – the locations themselves and the images we use to illustrate the stories add just as much as the words we write. 

Note that images that provide regional, national, or international context are welcome but they need to add to the story not merely illustrate. Images support the angle of the overall interpretation, correspond to the key pieces of the story, and add aesthetic value. Images are such an essential part of a site that your first order of business when selecting any site should be to determine if sufficient images are available.

If a site’s story encompasses a long period of time, images should be spread across as much of the period as possible. Though rarer, color images offer contrast and interest. Images can also include newspaper advertisements, brochures, pictures of three-dimensional objects, or other ephemera. Captions should be carefully crafted to convey as much interpretation as possible in a small package—ideally about 50 words. They should never merely describe what is plainly evident but instead show how what one sees is a window into something more. Captions should instruct the viewer in interpreting the image but make him or her “hungry” for more information.

The first picture for each story will be one that features the site as it appears today with a caption that helps the user identify the location/space and orients them to it.

Each picture will have a title, caption, and credit line:

Title: You have 18 individual characters (including spaces) for the title before it is too big to fit on the screen of a phone.  Develop one title for each picture that is 18 characters (not 18 words) or fewer. This is a difficult task so give yourself time to generate ideas. 

Caption: 75 words maximum (some will be much shorter and that is fine—in fact, some pictures may only require the title).

Credit Line can be up to 20 words and gives credit to the institution that owns the photograph.

If the site is designated as an historic landmark, include that and the year of inclusion on a separate line below the caption/credit. Architectural features and definitions, if appropriate, can be included in a photo caption.

For example, see this title and image caption:

Title: Contest Spectators (Note this is 18 characters, including the space)

Caption: The heavily-attended and popular annual Better Babies Contests were sponsored by the Indiana State Board of Health and supervised by Ada E. Schweitzer, M.D. Earlier in her career, she had worked in the Board’s Laboratory of Hygiene and had been a colleague of Dr. Helene Knabe, whose story is also on this tour. This image is from a Better Babies Contest around 1930.Credit Line: Source: Photograph Courtesy of Indiana State Archives, Indiana Commission on Public Records, around 1930.

Next: How does Location Work?