Results 1 to 8 of 8

Thread: Tips and advice for a young(ish) Photographer on getting into HAL/HAER/HALS

  1. #1

    Join Date
    Dec 2014
    Posts
    19

    Tips and advice for a young(ish) Photographer on getting into HABS/HAER/HALS

    I'm 33 and looking for any and all ways that I can make a little bit of money with photography while I continue my education. I recently moved to Los Angeles from Austin, Texas to complete BFA in photography at CALARTS, where I have one year left before I continue to move onto a masters program somewhere.

    When I read a recent thread here about HABS/HAER/HALS photography it really sparked my interest and inspired me. I have a huge passion for working in black and white and over the years have used various large format systems. I realize that I would definitely have a learning curve to get started, between the actual taking of the image, through the processing, through the labeling etc. All of this is the kind of think I enjoy doing and reading about. I also realize that it would probably take some years to make it viable and even then it would probably only be a supplemental income. I'm willing to start now putting in the time and effort in order for it to be something that I can make some money on in the future, of course realizing it is probably never that lucrative.

    So, I would love to hear from the community here any advice. How can one even get started in this field? Do you just submit images? Basically how do I build the connections necessary. Do you make at least some money? I'm sure I'll come up with more questions a long the way, but I feel that's a good starting point!

    Thanks in advance for your help, I don't believe I've posted here very often but I lurk here a lot and truly value this community.

    You can see my website here: www.pike.photo and my recent LA work here http://www.pike.photo/los-angeles-2018/. None of which is shot on large format or especially "documentation quality" but just thought I'd post some work to add to the conversation.

    Best,
    John
    Last edited by Mexipike; 24-Jul-2018 at 10:29.

  2. #2
    Drew Wiley
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Location
    SF Bay area, CA
    Posts
    11,540

    Re: Tips and advice for a young(ish) Photographer on getting into HAL/HAER/HALS

    You do nice work, worthy of a small book in my opinion. There is plenty of interest in journalistic themes that also contain artistic merit. That of course would involve quite a bit of effort and some outside financing. But due to its localized and ethnic nature, there might indeed be some matching organization interested, and it would be a good way to get your name out there. It's an uphill battle; so don't expect to make a lot of money, regardless.

  3. #3

    Join Date
    Dec 2014
    Posts
    19

    Re: Tips and advice for a young(ish) Photographer on getting into HAL/HAER/HALS

    Quote Originally Posted by Drew Wiley View Post
    You do nice work, worthy of a small book in my opinion. There is plenty of interest in journalistic themes that also contain artistic merit. That of course would involve quite a bit of effort and some outside financing. But due to its localized and ethnic nature, there might indeed be some matching organization interested, and it would be a good way to get your name out there. It's an uphill battle; so don't expect to make a lot of money, regardless.
    Thanks so much for checking out my work Drew and I realize appreciate the kind words. I would definitely love to make a small book one day.

    I definitely wish to continue to explore the journalistic themes I’ve dealt with over the years, and realize that it is one avenue that I can continue to push my work and earn some money.

    My interest in the HAB type work is just to be able to add one more “job” to the collective jobs I sort of patch together to scrape by. Since I’m back in school I have access to pretty much all of the equipment necessary for processing other than a camera. I’ve currently borrowed a 4x5 from a friend but would be fine to purchase the proper kit over time. My thoughts are that I could begin to put together a portfolio and practice the craft of perspective control, and the other specific points a long the way for processing, and labeling. I recognize that this would take time and possibly years before getting much paying work. My more recent work has been more about just straight forward images of structures around LA and I feel I could continue this while experimenting with the requirements for these programs. I find that anything I do that involves moving around with a camera and taking images, especially on black and white film, inspires every other aspect of my photography and my artistic practice. This could be one way to eventually keep taking images while scouting and learning and paying for some of the costs.

    I would love to hear input from anyone who works with these programs regularly on how you can get involved.

  4. #4

    Join Date
    Feb 2015
    Location
    Dallas, Texas
    Posts
    323

    Re: Tips and advice for a young(ish) Photographer on getting into HAL/HAER/HALS

    +1 for “run away” a la Monty Python

    But, since you have already picked the road less traveled, you will likely boldly pursue this “HABS” route—and it’s great to learn while making some $.

    They key thing is to factor-in the time for documentation and learning the “Silly Walk” (another Monty Python joke) of the labeling and prep of materials such as the map. Keep a careful field log! Read the other threads especially posts by Schaf, there you will find links to guidelines for the HABS/HAER/HALS “3H” Photography Guidelines and Transmittal Guidelines and even some tips on processing film etc. Get a used copy (of better yet interlibrary loan) of the book “Recording Historic Structures” John A Burns, ed.

    I shot major assignments for a Fortune 500 corp while working on my MFA Photo at RIT. The only challenge I foresee for you is scheduling conflicts.

    My smart friends at RIT shot weddings on the weekends — but some aspiring fine art photographers want to hear that and some looked down upon it. Do a HABS assignment and you may find it attractive
    Dallas Texas HABS / HAER / HALS Photography
    Photographer/Author Marfa Flights: Aerial Views of Big Bend Country (Texas A&M University Press)
    Represented by Michael Duty Fine Art

  5. #5
    schafphoto's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Ventura, California
    Posts
    168

    Getting into HABS/HAER/HALS photography first steps

    Hi John,

    About the Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS), Historic American Engineering Record (HAER) and the Historic American Landscapes Survey (HALS) (for those people lurking that want to try this).

    HABS was a 1933 US government documentation program that dates back to the "New Deal" and was a WPA make-work program of the Franklin Roosevelt administration in the 1930s to employ out of work architects. By 1934 out of work photographers were added to the HABS program to add to the measured drawings of colonial America that were being documented by HABS teams. HAER came along in 1969 to document our vanishing engineering heritage (bridges, mines, tunnels, launch pads, and even the Space Shuttle. HALS came along in 2000 to document the parks, cemeteries, gardens, public art, and cultural landscapes that didn't really fit into the other two programs (and shrubberies a la Monty Python)

    The field photographs are done on 4x5 and 5x7 black and white film and are kept in cold storage by the Library of Congress, while the prints are available in the Prints and Photographs Reading Room in DC and online as high resolution Tiff scans of the negatives. Available in the public domain for all to search, print and use at the Library of Congress HABS/HAER/HALS website: http://www.loc.gov/pictures/collection/hh/
    (Type in your city, county or state and see what has been documented for posterity in your area).

    That said, it is a very rewarding program to do work for. Making money is not something that is as easy, but after a few years of cultivating clients and marketing yourself there is indeed some profit potential. It is a fine way to supplement an architectural photography practice, I do a lot of digital twilight photos of shopping centers and apartment buildings to pay the mortgage. Maybe someone is making their whole living at it... I think Kirk too was just doing it for the love of Large Format and a good adventure. We do get to see some really cool stuff.

    The hardest and most expensive part:
    • Insurance, your clients will expect you to have a couple million in insurance before they let you step foot on their projects. (and probably hardhat, safety vest, gloves, safety glasses and steel-toe boots too.)
    • Experience; your clients will expect you to have experience before they let you do anything to get experience (catch 22).
    • You'll need a 4x5 camera, (hold off on the 5x7) a big tripod, a geared head and a lot of film holders so you can do many views in a day without reloading. (I'd say a minimum of 20-30) (I have 200+ because I hate reloading in hotel rooms after a long day when I'd rather be drinking beer/beers).
    • Interior photos will require getting some lighting gear that will light a big space at f22.
    • Wide angle lenses are more finicky to use than normal/long lenses... and 80% of photos will be 120mm or wider.



    The good part:
    • We get to use state-of-the-art 1933 technology to do this stuff ;-)
    • You can train yourself and get experience photographing your local American history and donate it to the HABS/HAER/HALS (H3) program and Library of Congress, and get your required experience that way.
    • There are lots of places that are nationally significant that haven't been photographed and should be in the H3 collections.
    • 4x5 equipment is not complicated and can be picked up online at Ebay and camera shows.
    • Every college has an old large format camera with pinholes in the bellows in the closet. (repair with RTV black silicone.)
    • The "rules," ie: "HABS guidelines" are extensive, but if you have the mindset to focus upside-down images with a magnifying loupe under a darkcloth, you can figure out the tedious and meticulous archival and transmittal guidelines. (If you are a spray-and-pray AF shooter, then good luck).
    • Heritage Documentation Programs of the National Park Service are happy to get donations from photographers who follow the directions.
    • Many of us HABS/HAER/HALS photographers are getting old and we will die soon.



    I have some more info on my FAQ page of my website: HABSPHOTO FAQ

    If I were to start a HABS project as a newby, I would choose a local property (by searching the H3 website) that was documented by the first wave of photographers in the 1930s and do what is called a "HABS addendum".
    Let's take one of the first resources documented in California. HABS CAL, 19-LOSAN, 1, Plaza Church, 535 North Main Street, in Downtown Los Angeles: http://www.loc.gov/pictures/collection/hh/item/ca0246/

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Paza Church HABS-CA-1-1.jpg 
Views:	24 
Size:	119.2 KB 
ID:	180861

    Two 3.25 x 5" negatives of the church were exposed in 1934. There are beautiful measured drawings as well. Both photos are exteriors. If a photographer were to duplicate those two views from the same tripod positions, and do another few exteriors and maybe talk their way into the building to do some interior long exposures, you could then easily describe those photos with captions. Read all the guidelines. Archivally wash the film. Buy a box of 5x7 envelopes, buy a set of mount card pages, and get the whole set ready. Call Heritage Documentation Programs in Washington DC to donate the negatives and a set of contact prints, they'll tell you the numbers to put on your captions and negatives and contacts. Fill out the form stating you are releasing copyright to the images into the public domain. Then mail the whole enchilada to DC. The advantage of doing an addendum donation is that you don't need to write a historic report that you are not qualified to do. The documentation already exists in the HABS collection, you are just adding new, current images to the existing file from 1934.

    Then take the 1934 images and put them next to your images on your website and blog, (they are in the public domain) and feel good about documenting our inherited environment!

    Good luck!
    Last edited by schafphoto; 26-Jul-2018 at 14:46.
    `
    –Stephen Schafer HABS | HAER | HALS & Architectural Photography | Ventura, California | www.HABSPHOTO.com

  6. #6

    Join Date
    May 2006
    Location
    Syracuse, NY
    Posts
    210

    Re: Getting into HABS/HAER/HALS photography first steps

    Hi John--

    I'm glad that Schaf posted a reply to your query--you'll get no better advice on the business of HABS/HAER/HALS than from him. I can only second nearly all of his points. Two of the things he said particularly resonated with me--

    "Making money is not something that is as easy, but after a few years of cultivating clients and marketing yourself there is indeed some profit potential. It is a fine way to supplement an architectural photography practice"

    I don't know of anyone who does HABS/HAER/HALS work as a full-time job (aside from the NPS' own photographer, Jarob Ortiz). Instead, it is a nice supplement--for me, to my work as a consulting historian. While there aren't a lot of us out there doing the LF documentation work for hire, there isn't a whole lot of work available. And the availability of that work is largely dependent on your state--some State Historic Preservation Offices (SHPO) place more requirements for traditional film for documentation than others. The Vermont SHPO, for example, has jettisoned film requirements for mitigation, while Maine still holds fast. Here in NY, the SHPO rarely calls for it. With the advent of digital photography, many agencies and firms have been successful in lobbying the SHPOs to claim that traditional LF documentation is too expensive and time-consuming.

    The best way to find the paying work, as Schaf noted, is to cultivate relationships with those firms that are faced with the kinds of environmental review projects that may require HABS/HAER/HALS mitigation--planning/engineering firms, cultural resources management firms, and such-like.

    As for getting experience, Schaf's point here is important as well--"If I were to start a HABS project as a newby, I would choose a local property (by searching the H3 website) that was documented by the first wave of photographers in the 1930s and do what is called a "HABS addendum""

    That is excellent advice. In addition to that I would add, however, contacting a local/regional historical society or historic preservation organization, and ask them if they have any needs for the documentation of a historic building or structure on a volunteer basis. They may or may not (it might be more of a burden to them than it is worth, given their available staff time and storage conditions), but if they do, you will get the experience of photographing a historic resource for documentation purposes (which is not quite the same as photographing for publication), have a backlog of images that you can post on your website/social media, and be a big help to a struggling local preservation organization. Plus, as Schaf noted, it gets you access to some pretty cool places. I continue to do a couple of small-scale volunteer documentation projects for the Onondaga Historical Society in recent years, which is a lot of fun.

    Good luck, and keep us posted on your progress!

    Bruce

  7. #7
    schafphoto's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Ventura, California
    Posts
    168

    Re: Tips and advice for a young(ish) Photographer on getting into HAL/HAER/HALS

    I forgot to mention that my current workflow is: For every 1 day of location fieldwork I have about three to four days of pre-/ post-production (client meetings, scouting, maps, loading the truck, loading film, travel, unloading the truck, developing/washing, draft captions, creating keymaps, negative scanning, darkroom or pigment printing, transmittal prep, final captions, numbering, CD burning, archiving, invoicing, etc...). Some of my jobs are done as a rush and take four weeks and others take two years from fieldwork to final delivery. I have about three draft H3 projects on the shelf right now from 2017 waiting for final approval of drafts, and am hoping for payment soon for a documentation I did in San Francisco in January. (Moral of the story: Get a retainer for up-front costs if possible.)

    I wanted to add that HABS, HAER and HALS does not deal exclusively with National Landmarks or state landmarks but has always had a mandate to record the "Complete Resume of the Builder's Art."
    So there are log cabins and hot dog stands (Top Hat Burger Cafe, Ventura) and covered bridges amongst the surveys of the Statue of Liberty and the Golden Gate Bridge. There are some good books by Jack Boucher and Jet Lowe worth reading as well, they were both the in-house HABS and HAER photographers at NPS Heritage Documentation Programs for decades. As Bruce said, if you can find a historic society or preservation group in need of volunteer photos then they can write the historic report while you do the photography and the entire survey can be transmitted as a NEW property. This is a great win-win!

    -Schaf
    Last edited by schafphoto; 26-Jul-2018 at 15:08. Reason: added signature
    `
    –Stephen Schafer HABS | HAER | HALS & Architectural Photography | Ventura, California | www.HABSPHOTO.com

  8. #8

    Join Date
    Dec 2014
    Posts
    19

    Re: Tips and advice for a young(ish) Photographer on getting into HAL/HAER/HALS

    Thanks so much to everyone for all the help. I'm sorry for my delay in response. It will certainly be a long road but I'm definitely going to get started on it. Luckily, I have a 4x5/5x7 camera, a 150mm lens and a 90mm lens and about 30 4x5 film holders, so that should be enough to get me started! I also have a set of Paul C. Buff studio lights.

    I think I'm definitely going to use your advice Shaf and go photograph the church you mentioned.

    I'm also considering documenting a lot of the grit and grime of LA with 4x5 or 5x7 in the H3 style and to use it for my own art work this year at CALARTS. May even be able to submit some of those.

    I just now ordered a copy of “Recording Historic Structures”


    I'll keep this thread updated with any progress I make as well as with any questions that come up.
    Last edited by Mexipike; 6-Aug-2018 at 20:35.

Similar Threads

  1. New HABS HAER HALS 100% cotton digital print requirements.
    By schafphoto in forum Digital Processing
    Replies: 14
    Last Post: 19-Mar-2018, 21:51
  2. NEW 2011 Guidelines for large-format HABS, HAER, HALS
    By schafphoto in forum Digital Processing
    Replies: 3
    Last Post: 22-Nov-2011, 06:56
  3. Replies: 27
    Last Post: 30-Aug-2010, 13:13
  4. Linhof Young Photographer photo contest
    By Bob Salomon in forum Announcements
    Replies: 13
    Last Post: 10-Mar-2010, 17:59

Tags for this Thread

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •