Collecting and Managing Images

This is a blog post of a workshop held on 25th October 2018 at Manchester Central Library as part of the Sound & Vision event. It is written by Drew Ellery, Digital officer at Ahmed Iqbal Ullah Race Relations Resource Centre. The main aim of this workshop was to give all participants an introduction to best practice strategies for collecting and managing images. 

What images are you collecting? 

If you are running a heritage project with the aims of collecting images, it’s important to consider what kind of images you might collect, and why you’re collecting? During the Managing Images workshop, these questions were put forward to our participants. The majority of them were aiming to collect both photographic and digital images. Many wanted to collect using a variety of methods such as loaning photographs, running scanning social events, as well as using mobile phones to create digital copies of physical images.

Why collect images?

Overwhelmingly, all of the workshop participants were collecting images to be used for visual engagement within physical and digital exhibitions, on social media as well as published resources. The aims of running this workshop was to give our attendees guidance on a number of best practice strategies for  managing their collecting process, producing the best quality images, as well as adhering to long term copyright and data protection policy.

Collecting activity

As an example of best practice for collecting photographic images, we undertook an exercise to interpret as much information as possible from a photographic collection entitled Early Africans in Manchester. The significance of this collection is that it currently lacks any formal copyright permissions. Also little is known about the lives of the people in the photographs, including specific dates and places. This is also a collection of images complied from various donations.

An outcome of this activity was a greater understanding of the importance of collecting detailed copyright permissions from the image owner. It also shed light on the importance of collecting detailed information about the images you are collecting. Consider asking the image owner, who is in the picture? Where was the picture taken? When was the picture taken?  We also discussed how useful a loan agreement form can be for temporarily loaning images to scan.


The next activity involved digitizing a selection of images from the collection using either a flat bed scanner or portable scanner. The main aims of this activity was to give our participants a practical insight into digitizing images in the highest possible quality. Each group was set the task of following our set instructions for scanning images, creating high quality TIFF files as an outcome. This activity also highlighted the potential of purchasing a low-cost potable scanner (under £100) that can produce quality outputs.

Photo by Drew Ellery

Data Protection 

We next discussed taking photographs at events and the need to inform all attendees that images are being collected. I suggested  some useful strategies such making announcements, putting up signs, and using coloured stickers to raise awareness of who might not want to be photographed. We also discussed the importance of having a take-down policy, so those who want their image removed can request this. You can find helpful guidance from the Resource Centre on the points discussed.


The main outcomes of the workshop was a greater awareness from all participants to complete the relevant documentation to clear copyright permissions, as well as to collect detailed information about the images being collected. Participants left with an understanding of how to use scanners to produce high quality images.  All of the relevant documents are now available to download on our Resources Page. In the long-term, these skills can aid participants to consider strategies that produce the best quality outputs for their project as well as the potential to archive these outputs.

If you are currently working on a heritage project within Greater Manchester and would like guidance or support please email me at: 

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