Photos Bring the Story to Life

photo by Karolina Grabowska

photo by Karolina Grabowska

In any personal history project, photographs can amplify the text in extraordinary ways. The pictures are as significant as the words, and they require many hours of work.

The challenge is to get the right photos in the right format. The client typically goes through boxes and albums and finds way, way, way too many images. How does she decide which ones would be best? This is a good question that leads directly back to the text. Once I complete a draft of the client’s story, then the manuscript provides the story to be “illustrated.” Photo selection becomes easier. Photos then fall on or off the pages, so to speak.

We need to work with digital images, of the highest resolution possible, but not less than 600 dpi. Unfortunately this can rule out some small family snapshots. We don’t want to remove an original image from the client’s home or office, because we don’t want the responsibility of keeping heirloom photographs safe. If it’s helpful, I can bring a portable scanner to the client and scan the pictures and documents. We need to have digital images to work with.

A caption must accompany each photo. If the client doesn’t send captions with the digital images, then we end up with “floaters” — Who are these people? Where are they? When? The client and I send images back and forth via email until they are tagged appropriately, and that takes time.

A client generally sends the images to me via email attachments, but ultimately I order them and attach their captions in Dropbox, so that the client can see them too, in story order. The text will include the same numbered captions and show where photos would be inserted in the text. By toggling back and forth between text and photos, the client can see how the photos and story will flow. This is not an exact science, because the designer will place photos artistically on the pages, often grouping them. But reading the manuscript and looking at the order of photos, gives a good idea how the story will look.

The right images in the right place add a magical quality to the story, and bring it to life.

Copyright © 2013 by Mary Beth Lagerborg