Before going to any archive or library to photograph materials, be sure to call ahead or check on their website to make note of their polices. Ask them specifically if you will be allowed to use your digital camera, and what sort of equipment they allow. Some places are willing to allow tripods and extra lamps, while others do not allow digital photography at all. Each archive and repository is different; some need considerable advance notice of your arrival.
The following website is useful for finding archives:
Please note that in many cases, the policy may not be easy to locate; it may be listed under such headings as Photocopies, Plan Your Visit, Researcher Policies, etc.
Also note that permission to copy does not mean permission to publish. If you plan (or think you may plan) on publishing your information, be sure to obtain the proper permission for that.
Always test your equipment in different scenarios before going into the field. Know your strengths and weaknesses as a photographer. Some people prefer using a tripod while others get good results holding the camera. Some cameras work better than others. Some camera settings work better than others. You will not know these things until you experiment.
This guide covers the basics of how to use your digital camera as a research tool. Read it and understand why we suggest what we do before going in and starting. Having a good foundation in place will make your research go more smoothly. This includes items such as knowing how you want to organize your photos before you take them.
Ask For Help
If you need help with any aspect of your project, ask for it. There are countless resources available on the Internet, and the Digitization Services staff are more than happy to help.
While many graduate students and faculty members have used digital cameras or scanners in archival research, there is a range of opinion on the necessity or value of this type of research. Some scholars continue to prefer the paper and pencil method (or are forced to use this method due to the policies of the archives they visit). However, other scholars find great benefit from this approach.