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Indiana Department of Natural Resources

Indiana Department of Natural Resources

Historic Preservation & Archaeology > Help for Owners > National & State Registers > National & State Registers - Application Process > Photography Guidelines Photography Guidelines

General Guidelines for Photography
and New Guidelines for Digital Photos

What to photograph
The National Register wants representative photos of the property. 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, individual exterior, architectural details, structures, objects, and sites should be documented.  It is not necessary to photograph each building separately or to have an image of every single 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 itself.  Images may be included at the end of the document, after all continuation sheets.

Digital Photography
In 2005 the National Register expanded their photo policy to include digital images. Previously the Register required photographs to be 35mm black and white prints that would last at least 100 years. Archive processed 35mm black and white photographs will still be accepted. However, such photos are becoming increasingly difficult and expensive to obtain. In an effort to make National Register photography more accessible, the new policy allows for black and white prints produced from digital files. No photos processed with chromogenic processing (C-41) or printed on chromogenic papers currently meet the established standard and are, therefore, not acceptable. The DHPA will accept traditional 35mm black and white photographs or a CD of digital images.

In an effort to ensure that photography meets the National Register digital guidelines, the DHPA will print the necessary photographs. Applicants should submit two non-rewriteable archival gold CDs containing the electronic image files and a copy of the photograph log—one to send to the National Register and one to keep on file at the DHPA. The electronic image files MUST BE saved as uncompressed .TIF (Tagged Image File format) in keeping with the guidance on digital photographic records issued by the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration.

The DHPA will not accept digital images printed by the applicant or outside commercial photo developer. Please do not submit photography in mixed formats—use either all digital or all 35mm film. All photographs must be current. Do not scan-in older images.

In January 2009 the National Register revised its digital photo policy. All applications submitted after June 10, 2008 must meet the following:


  • 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.


  • Original capture .tif or raw converted to .tif
  • Jpeg images may be converted to .tif format, provided the resulting image meets the 3000 x 2000 size and 300 dpi standards
  • 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:

  • State, County, Resource Name, Multiple (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 itself must contain the same seven identification items that the National Register has always required. (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.

Printing of Digital Photos
The DHPA will print all photos from the CD to accompany the National Register application. The cost of printing will be $4 per print and the applicant will receive an invoice before the photos are printed. Payment must be received before the photos will be printed. Photos are required for a complete application and only complete applications will be presented to the Indiana Historic Preservation Review Board.

The DHPA can only accept 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.

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.