Since we’re working more and more with images and video, I wanted to get some guidelines for taking good photos and also some information about legal issues such as copyright and photo releases.
The most important thing to remember about taking visually interesting and balanced photos is the “rule of thirds”, which basically states that the most important elements in the photo should be placed on lines that divide the picture into thirds, or at the intersection of those horizontal and vertical lines.
Secondly, learn to use the histogram feature of your digital camera. (Mine is so old, there is no histogram function – I have to open the photos in an editing program to see the histogram, which provides information about lightness/darkness and proper exposure.) The histogram will give you clues about how to edit the photo for the best effect.
And third, it makes sense to store your photos online at a site like Flickr, where you can set the kind of Creative Commons licence that works for you. With a Creative Commons license rather than a copyright statement, you can set the level of permission other people can have to re-use your photos.
Generally, if you are taking the pictures in your library, because it is a public space, people can have no reasonable expectation of privacy, and releases are generally not needed. People are on camera daily everywhere they go (ATM, retail stores, library security systems), so photos showing people enjoying their libraries should be ok. It’s courteous to ask, though, “do you mind if I take your picture while you [enjoy the storytime, practice knitting, …] for our [blog, web page, press release]? And a verbal answer should be fine.