Requirements for
Photographic Documentation
of Historic Buildings for Property Owners
 Pursuing Preservation Tax Incentives

State Historic Preservation Office
Oklahoma Historical Society
800 Nazih Zuhdi Drive
Oklahoma City, OK  73105


In order for the National Park Service (NPS) and the Oklahoma State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) to evaluate whether rehabilitation work is consistent with the Secretary of the Interior's "Standards for Rehabilitation," clear and comprehensive photographic documentation must be provided.  The following recommendations shall be considered the standard for photographs required to be included with the submission of each Part of the "Historic Preservation Certification Application."  Applications submitted with inadequate photographic documentation will be significantly delayed or may be denied certification.  Therefore, the SHPO will return submittals not meeting these requirements so that they may be revised.  Photographs submitted with complete and executed applications will not be returned.


FILM:  Photographs should be taken with 35mm film.

PRINT FORMAT:  Minimum print size = three by five inches (3" x 5").  Maximum print size = eight by ten inches (8" x 10").  Color, glossy finish prints.  Color prints are often necessary to adequately show architectural features.  Photographic requirements for National Register of Historic Places documentation can be found in the "Oklahoma National Register Nomination and Request for Determination of Eligibility Manual."  Two original prints of all photographs must be submitted with each Part of the application.  One set is for the State Historic Preservation Office and the other is for the National Park Service.  Polaroid type photographs and slides are not acceptable.  Digital images and photocopies are not acceptable.  Polaroid, slide and digital images may be returned without review.

IMAGE QUALITY:  Photographic images must be clear and in focus, taken in good light, and taken under good climatic conditions.  Architectural features must be clearly illustrated.  Photographs not meeting this level of quality may be returned without review

PRINT IDENTIFICATIONAll photographs must have the following information clearly typewritten on a self-adhesive label (such as a blank address label, 2" x 3") adhered to the back of each photograph.  Do not write on the back of the photograph in ink.  Do not mount the photograph onto sheets of paper or cardboard.  Do not apply a label with rubber cement or tape.  Any photographs not having the following information may be returned without review. 

PHOTOGRAPHIC KEY:  Photographs should be keyed to the application narrative as appropriate.  In many cases it is helpful to key photographs to site plans or floor plans showing the location at which they are taken and the direction that the camera was pointing (reference Figure 1). 

(Figure 1)

A few "typical" photographs of either interior or exterior features are not sufficient to enable an adequate assessment of a project. The "Part 2" application must be accompanied with enough good, clear photographs to completely document both interior and exterior conditions, including the site and surrounding environment, prior to any rehabilitation work. A side-by-side comparison of "before" and "after" photographs is made in the final certification. At least one photograph must be provided for each elevation of the building, in full. Photographs of various portions of historic buildings may be required to document historic materials and construction

The following information serves as a general guide for photographic documentation. Refrain from including several images of the same elevation or feature. If several shots of the same view were taken, submit only the best and most informative ones.

SITE AND SETTING:  Several photographs of the site and setting of the historic structure(s).  This should include photographs taken both up close, showing the individual property site, and from a distance, showing the street setting of the structure(s). 

EXTERIOR ELEVATION:  Elevations of the building must show the entire length and/or width of the building.  At least one photograph of each existing elevation should be provided.  This includes all structures affected by the rehabilitation, such as carriage houses and outbuildings.  Elevations that are partially blocked by adjacent structures or trees may require photographs to be taken from several different angles or locations to completely document these elevations.

INTERIOR SPACES:  Interior photographs should be taken with a wide-angle lens from diagonally opposite corners of the room (reference Figure 2).  This includes all interior spaces affected by the rehabilitation.  If like spaces or rooms exist, such as floor after floor of warehouse space, then submitting several representative photographs documenting the condition throughout the structure is acceptable.

(Figure 2)

BUILDING ELEMENTS:  Elements are large portions of the building, such as walls and roofs, which contain repeated features, such as doors, windows and large decorative details.  These patterns are important and should be evident in the photographs.

FEATURES OF BUILDING ELEMENTS:  Features including porches, entryways and large significant decorative aspects of the building should be shown.

DETAILS OF THE FEATURES:  Close-up photographs of windows, doors, balustrades, trim, and repeated designs and motifs should be provided.  Also views of typical work methods and materials such as mortar joints, cornice details and finishes.  Photographs of these details may be especially important to demonstrate existing deleterious conditions before rehabilitation and the success of replicating the same after rehabilitation. 

SPECIAL DECORATIVE DETAILS:  Any special limited use details or materials that add to the significance of the resource should be properly illustrated.

DETAILS OF THE CONDITION:  If it is believed that severe deterioration requires original building materials to be completely replaced, clear photographic documentation of the condition of the deteriorated materials must be included to justify such a belief. 


For more information contact:

State Historic Preservation Office
Oklahoma Historical Society
800 Nazih Zuhdi Drive
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma  73105
(405) 521-6249

(This information originates from material originally prepared by:
National Park Service, Rocky Mountain Regional Office
11/86 edition)


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