Building Community Through Photographs
Speaker: Elizabeth Thomsen, Member Services Manager, NOBLE
Elizabeth begins by talking about the whole conference established by the idea of community, connected and seen as a group rather than as individuals.
Photographs really identify a group or community, or even a time.
Elizabeth showed Dorothea Lange's "Migrant Mother: Nipomo California," 1936 as an iconic image of the depression. Lange's picture epitomizes the idea of a culture or era.
Elizabeth followed by showing a Lewis Hine photograph. Typically, we never see Hine photographs of the Boston area. Elizabeth shows a Hine from Salem (1911) with a boy who is Elizabeth's boss' grandfather. This particular Hine, from the National Archives, is interesting for its local connection. This photograph really belongs to the community. Elizabeth mentions the "morningsonmaplestreet" project led by Joe Manning. Joe is a Mass. native who writes essays and compiles poems and photographs, including work on Lewis Hine.
Elizabeth discusses the ubiquitous presence of photography today thanks to the camera phone and digital photography.
- Cameraphones--news, crime and art
- Camerapedia--camera information wiki
- Online photo editing--Picnik, Photoshop Express
- Cool tools (often associated with flickr)--Big huge labs, Dumpr
- Social networks
- Flickr and other photo sites
- Sharing by default
- Any picture might be of interest to someone
- Casual organization through sets of tagging
- Social organization through friends and contacts (important to librarians)
- Pro Account: $24.95/year
- Permissions (Commenting, tagging, etc.)
- Copyright (photos protected by copyright--can change settings on flickr to be more generous)
- Groups: Local and regional (librarians should put photos in local groups where they will be seen by people interested in the community)
- Library pictures: programs, displays, artwork, garden
- Sprinkle, don't flood (do a little at a time)
- Noe expectation of privacy on the street (public)
- Libraries public? yes and No--need to be careful
- Presumption of privacy
We often don't preserve pictures of our community, of our local places. People are not often interested in preserving the tree in the park or the church; it is often the bakery or hardware store that people remember, or that marks local history. Lost places, then and now photos, and historic trails should be considered. These are picture related to history of the area.
Elizabeth showed pictures from around the area and related their importance to the community, such as a statue, or program from a local library, or the architecture and tree in bloom outside of the library (as a marketing tool). Another photo shows the volunteers having fun. Pictures can be used to communicate a message,as with Lewis Hine or Dorothea Lange, on a local level.
Participation in photography is good. Elizabeth suggests getting permission to use digital images. Borrow pictures to scan, get volunteers to take pictures, and capture memories and pair them with oral history. Do a Mass Memory Road Show, such as the show that goes on the road and scans images to preserve local history/memory in other communities.
Elizabeth shows the virtual community garden that Melrose Public Library created. Elizabeth is not a big fan of photography contests, but it is a good way to get people to participate, and an opportunity or participation, especially when establishing themes and categories.
Photography can be participatory with fun games such as Sleeveface--lining up a record cover with the face and take a picture so that it looks like the record cover is your face.
Elizabeth advises us to start with photos that are often requested, such as the LOC American Memory project started scanning with the picture of Nixon meeting Elvis. Find an excuse to incorporate photos, such as an anniversary or holiday, and weigh nostalgia with history.
Elizabeth also suggests ways to incorporate photos to maps, such as Google Maps. Programs can include teaching people how to create a map, create a historic trail, or even, Elizabeth suggests, create a slide show or movie. She shows Animoto, which allows us to make music slide shows with our pictures. Animoto can be used in library programming with a teen slide show, etc.
Check out Elizabeth's photographs on her wiki. There are links to flickr and animoto so you can play around with them.