New Hampshire Folklife Logo
New Hampshire Folklife - an official New Hampshire Government website
Smaller text size Reset text size Larger text size
link to website translation page

Heritage Arts Build-A-Picture – Teacher's
Equipment for Interviewing

If your student takes photographs, makes a video, or an audio recording, standard interview ethics call for asking the person interviewed to sign a "Release Form" pdf file that says you have permission to put the photographs and recordings in your school or community collection.

Camera Equipment

The important thing with photographs is to encourage students to take photographs with the person featured prominently in the composition. The tendency is to take photographs of people from too far away.

Film Cameras
The easiest cameras to use are the compact disposable cameras. They take fairly good pictures and do not require a big investment. Some families have Point & shoot film cameras that are also suitable.

It is best to order a double set of prints. That way you can have one set of prints to be filed with the report and another to use for class projects or to send to the person who was interviewed.

Digital Cameras
More and more families have digital cameras, but they are still much more expensive that a disposable camera for students to use.

If students have access to a family digital camera, anything 3 megapixels and up is fine for student interviews. The students should download the images and print out a good selection to include with their report.

Video Equipment

Some families have hand held video recorders. They are usually very expensive so it is best if a teacher or parent helps supervise the use of the recorder.

Some digital cameras have the ability to make short videos. The bigger the memory card, the more moving images can be taken. Ask your local camera store what they recommend for the length of time the student wants to film.

Recording Equipment

There are two basic ways sound is recorded:

In this mode, sound is imprinted by rearranging magnetic particles held in suspension in an emulsion adhered to a physical strip of tape.

The most common type of analog audio recorder is a cassette recorder. The best type of cassette tape to buy is high bias.

In this mode, sound is imprinted by rearranging binary code either held in suspension in an emulsion adhered to a physical strip tape or by "burning" the code onto a round plastic disc (CD).

The most common types of digital audio recorders are mini disc recorders, full disc recorders, and digital tape recorder. The least expensive is likely to be a mini disc recorder, but they can be very tricky to use. If using CD's the best type to use is "gold."

Helpful suggestions on how to make a good recording:
When making audio recordings, it is best to have a microphone that is separate from the recording machine so the microphone does not pick up the sound of the machine itself. This is not always possible. If your microphone is built in to the recorder, be sure to get close to the person you are interviewing.

Regardless of the type of audio or video recorder you use, it is important to find a place to do the recording that is quiet and removed from the commotion of the household. Stop and pay attention to all the sounds around you before you start. Motors of any kind, like air conditioners, vacuum cleaners, dishwashers, garbage trucks, etc. can make it very hard to record the voice of the person you are interviewing.

Reminder on Interview Protocols

  • Always ask permission to make a recording
  • Always ask the people being interviewed to sign a release form allowing you to make the recording and making clear what you plan to do with the recording later.
  • Never hide the equipment so the person doesn't know they are being recorded or having their picture taken.
  • Have questions prepared beforehand.
  • Listen to the informant and don't interrupt with your own story.

Portable Document Format Symbol Portable Document Format (.pdf). Visit for a list of free .pdf readers for a variety of operating systems.

New Hampshire State Council on the Arts
19 Pillsbury Street - 1st Floor, Concord, NH 03301