I’m working on choosing final images that will go in my book Buried Lives: The Enslaved People of George Washington’s Mount Vernon. Images are critical for a nonfiction book like this.
One part of the book includes a chapter about the archaeological dig that is taking place in the Slave Cemetery at Mount Vernon. I want to include photos of volunteers working there and there are some great images to choose from. But each photo needs to meet a list of factors for it to work for the book.
|This is a photo of me working the sifter during the dig. While it does fit the text of the book it is more important to use images of other volunteers.|
|I took this photo, but it isn't the right choice to be in the book. Other images are better and will carry more weight. |
Here are a few details I look for when choosing a photo for my book:
Is it needed? Photos take up a lot of real estate in a book, so each image must carry it’s weight and be worth the space.
It must compliment the text. The photo needs to either add a deeper understanding to what I’ve written or give a platform to use more information in the caption to get across information that didn’t fit within the text.
It matters what is in the background of the pic. Does what is behind or beside the subject add to the photo? Or can it be cropped?
Is it blurry?
Is the photo hi res enough for publication? Some images must be deleted because they aren’t good enough for print.
THIS FOLLOWING PART IS ABSOLUTELY CRITICAL!
—you must have written permission to use
every photo you publish.
And finally for me at least, I want to make sure I have permission from the people who are in the photos (if they are recognizable). I’m working on this part right now. While the photos I want to use technically belong to Mount Vernon, the people in the photos are volunteers. So I want each one of them to tell me it is acceptable for me to use the photo in my book. To ask for permission, I’ve got to communicate with them. Sometimes that is harder than it sounds. At times I’ve had to be a real bloodhound to find people. It is all part of the research. Just this morning I sent out another round of emails seeking permission from people in the pics I want to use. I hope to hear from them very soon because the book is with the book designer now. If I don’t hear from them giving me permission, the pic won’t be in the book.
Got to go now—maybe the people I’m looking for sent me an email . . . I hope so.
Carla Killough McClafferty