Photography is one of the greatest tools a Main Street program
can use in continuing their great work. Words often associated with photography
are preservation, documentation, evidence, proof, and memories. These words
coalesce what distinguishes Main Street from other groups and non-profits; that
is its focus and dedication on preserving the historic character of downtowns
as the heart of the community through its central location and hub for entrepreneurs,
businesses, events, and more. It is this historic character that draws people
in through a sense of living and visiting a unique place.
This intersection between photography and Main Street centers
on its mission to record, document, and preserve a community’s life and patrons.
Without pictures, we would know very little about the look of our Main Streets
from the 1900s, but because the time and effort people took in the past to
photograph what they did we have a better picture of what Main Streets looked
like in the past and how vibrant they were. There are many famous pictures you
see today that portray the mundane, people’s normal lives or regular buildings
of that time that we now reflect back on and cherish as part of our community’s
past. It is imperative that we continue what our predecessors have done and
document the work we do for others to reflect on and become inspired by in
years to come.
Four Benefits from Documenting Main Street Preservation
Impact: Photographs and recorded materials can be used in reports provided
to stakeholders, donors, partners, or city and county officials to demonstrate
the impact and return on investment Main Street has in communities through the
work of its citizens. Words and numbers do a good job at communicating what we
need them to, but a photo truly is worth a thousand words with what can be
conveyed. These reports include annual reports, partnership brochures,
stakeholder brochures, etc. Wait and see just how you can spur new investment
by capturing and sharing how you have used past investment wisely and for
of District and Main Street Organization: Photograph your events,
volunteers, and other Main Street activities to include in your promotional
campaigns and materials. Focus on capturing candid moments and event
photography that people can cherish, look back on, and enjoy. Also, consider
how your photos can communicate a sense of place by capturing your streets and
buildings in streetscapes, landscape, or cityscape photography.
Capturing moments in history show to people what and how spaces used to be in decades
past and today for future generations. These photos can showcase your
district’s unique buildings and architectural features and use drone footage to
show the entire district and the changes that happen with infill or empty lot
activation. Add an annual pictoral survey of your district into your action
plan so that you make time to document the changes.
Photographing the before, during, and after of your projects are important
records that are asked and required for grant writing and reporting. For
example, under the Historic Tax Credit programs offered at the state and
federal levels before work starts pictures are requested for the application to
show the current condition and pictures during the project, after completion,
and in use for documentation.
Tips for Photographing Main Street
- Take as many photos as you can so you have an
ample amount to pick the best from.
- If you have access to a digital camera become
familiar with its settings and use it over a phone to ensure a higher pixel
density and quality.
- Take pictures as often as you can of your
district at events and minor and major projects to record the changes that
happen to highlight all that is going on in your district.
- Consider different angles and perspectives to
capture the breadth of your district and all of the nooks and crannies.
- Share your pictures so others may fall in love
with your district.
How will you capture the heart of your district and its
people to preserve and tell later on?