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Tips for taking photos for Memory Bank

Black and white photographs from the 1940s including weddings and servicemen
27 April 2020

We're calling on you to help us create a collective memory of what everyday life in Victoria is actually like now, by contributing to our Memory Bank.

Find out more about Memory Bank.

Your responses can be as creative or as literal as you wish, and we encourage you to include as much detail as possible!

If you send your contribution as a photo, read these ten handy tips to create an impactful picture that'll leave its mark – and have fun while doing it.

  • Turn on the camera grid in your phone settings to help you straighten the photo and set the focal point. It can also help you follow the Rule of thirds: divide your image evenly into thirds and place your subject at the intersection of those lines to create an attractive, balanced composition.
  • Look for the High Dynamic Range (HDR) setting for best tonal range. 
  • Check that your image is in focus. You have a few options here ... you can tap your smartphone's screen at the point where you want it to focus. Consider using flash or an extra light source if you need more light. If holding the phone in your hand makes it shake, place your phone on a tripod (even a makeshift one) to limit the wobble. 
  • To get a closer shot, physically move in closer to your subject rather than zooming in. Zooming reduces the quality of your image.
  • Clean your camera lens. Ye olde Vaseline-on-the-lens smeared look isn't so useful here, because the content of images is key to our collective memory.
  • Experiment with angles to avoid reflection, play with colour and symmetry. Take a few photos of your subject so you can choose the best one!
  • Square, horizontal, vertical – the shape of your photo is up to you! Compare portrait (vertical) and landscape (horizontal) for your composition and be guided by what looks best.
  • Play with arranging the elements in your frame as these all contribute to the atmosphere of what you're creating.
  • Feel free to edit your photo in-camera – try cropping or colouring.
  • Try a panoramic image to capture more context.

Memory Bank is a safe space. Whatever life looks like for you during this time of physical isolation, you can feel free to share it here. And when in doubt, remember that authenticity and humour are two tried and tested approaches!

How to submit

Please send your files (photo, sound files or film clips) to our Facebook Memory Bank group and tag us with #SLVMemoryBank.

If you're not on Facebook, please email your file to [email protected] (please note that the maximum size we can receive is 50MB). 

If you wish to submit a real item, please email a photo of it to [email protected] and we'll contact you when the Library reopens.

If you contribute to Memory Bank, we may contact you to discuss collecting and using your images, stories, objects and experiences. With your permission, these may be added to the State Collection or used in future Library programs.

We may not be able to accept everything, but we will endeavour to do so. Our collection policy covers almost everything you could imagine: just try us!

Further reading

For those who want to dig deeper, take a look at these ebooks on smartphone photography. (You'll need to be a Library member to read these.)