National Archives and Records Administration
Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum

   Questions to Ask When Looking at Photographs

   OBSERVATION: Identifying the photo

Where did you find the photograph?

What is happening in the photo?

Start at the top of the photo and look from left to right until you have listed every item.

Look carefully at any people in the photo. How are they dressed?

Does the photo have a title? Is anything written on the back or front?

Give the photo a title and a caption that explains the photo to others.

   INFERENCE: Putting the photo in context and looking for clues

Who do you think was the intended audience?

When do you think the photo was taken?

Where do you think the photo was taken?

What details in the photo give you the most information?

Are there objects and people you see that give you the most information?

Does the photo illustrate a certain theme, historical period or special event?

   QUESTIONS: Evaluating the photo

What questions does the photo raise in your mind?

Where could you find the answers to your questions?