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close this bookRecording and Using Indigenous Knowledge: A Manual (IIRR, 1996, 211 p.)
close this folderPart 2 Recording and assessment methodologies
close this folderAudio-visual media
View the documentCassette documentation
View the documentParticipatory video
View the documentPhoto/slide documentation

Photo/slide documentation


Taking photographs as prints or slides. Individual prints or slides can stand on their own or be shown in sequence with narration to convey complex messages or illustrate themes.


To preserve images—objects, practices, and dynamic processes in a community. Photos are useful for recording baseline data, visually chronicling implementation, and in monitoring and evaluation. They can also stimulate discussion and action by local people and by outside organizations.


- 35mm camera
- Flash and batteries
- Film
- Paper, marking pens and push-pins
- Notebook and pencil

Possible approach

Photographe can be used in many different ways. The process below describes how to use photos in a simple exhibit or slide-tape program that you can use in a training course.


Identify a problem for which photographs can help. (For example: you have been assigned to introduce a number of IK practices to a large group of people. You might choose to prepare a slide presentation.)

Identify your target audience (see assette documentation).

Set your objectives. What do you want the audience to think, feel, or do after they have seen your photos?

Gather and review, if necessary, available photos and references related to your topic from the community, local government units, and libraries.

Prepare a topic outline, a list of shots to take, and/or a script.

Make sure your camera works.


Make it clear to everyone concerned that photographs will be taken. If needed, ask for permission.

Explain your objectives, who and what you want to photograph, and who will see the presentation.

Follow your shooting guide or script to document the practices you need to record. As far as possible, take pictures of people and objects in their natural settings. Take more photos than you need in case some do not come out as desired. after shooting

After shooting

Review your shots and label them (event, actors, date, significant details, including any information on IK).

Select the shots you need and put them in a logical sequence.

Write or refine the narrative to accompany the shots.

Prepare the presentation.

Prints: You can put prints in an album for presentation, or make an exhibit (it's best to use enlargements for this purpose). Write or type labels with a narrative to accompany the photos. Pin them on the wall 50 readers or visitors can follow them without any extra explanation.

Slides: It is best to keep a slide set in a projector tray. You can make title slides by writing with chalk on a blackboard and then taking a picture of it. You can write the narration (with notes on when to change the slides) on paper and keep this with the slide set. Or, you can record the narration on an audiocassette and play it back while you show the slides.

Pretest your shots or your slide show with members of the target audience. Assess the impact on the audience. Note how they react. Change the individual shots or the sequence and narrative if necessary.

Use the finished exhibit or slide-tape program as planned.

Store the slides prints and negatives in a well-ventilated place free of insects, dust and humidity (an air-conditioned room is best). Make sure they are labelled and ordered in a way that enables you to find photographs easily.


- Photography is a powerful, yet simple, low-cost way to capture detailed images. Photos can show objects, events or processes.

- They can stimulate discussion and preserve, promote, and disseminate details of a people's culture, practices, traditions, and lifestyle.

- Photos can also be used in many other ways—for instance, as illustrations in publications. on posters, and as stills in video programs.

- They are a particularly effective way of communicating IK to people outside the local community.

Dos and don'ts

- Get as close as possible to your subject when shooting. The moat common mistake in photography is to stand too far away— causing the subject to appear too small in the print or slide. If you cannot get up close, use a telephoto lens

- During shooting, be guided by your script or shot guide. Try to avoid taking photographs just for "documentation." try to keep a purpose in mind when you are shooting. Buying and processing many rolls of film is expensive.

- Avoid creating distractions while taking photographs.

- Take your photos in the natural setting of the object or event. Try to avoid "posed" shots, with everyone looking directly at the camera.

- Encourage community members to prepare their own photo and slide shows. People can easily be trained in basic photography.

Compiled by Anna Reylene J. Montes