Monday, April 28, 2008

Arizona Stories and a Rephotography Roundup

Arizona Stories: For his landmark book, "Arizona Then and Now," photographer Allen Dutton traveled across the state to recapture archival images from their exact original location. Watch as early century images transform into contemporary photography.

Arizona Stories is a fun "before and after" photography site, where modern photographers try to take a photograph at exactly the same spot as a historic photo. Sometimes called rephotography, the technique is fun and lends itself naturally to presentations on the web. Examples include Third View - A Rephotographic Survey of the American West; Urban Life through Two Lenses — a flash-heavy exhibit of Quebec rephotography, and Springfield Rewind - featuring rephotographs of Springfield, Illinois. The last site presents the before and after photographs in my favorite format: one sees the historic photograph, but rolling the mouse over it causes it to "flip" to the modern scene. It is a simple trick that packs a punch. I have played around with rephotography myself here in Carthage, Missouri (examples 1, 2, 3). There are also many books featuring rephotographs.

Rephotography is easy and fun, especially with the large and increasing number of historic photos online. I think it would make a great project for school students! Give them some copies of historic photographs of their own community and send them out to rephotograph the scenes. The before and after pictures could go on the web, or have an art show where students stand next to large prints of their photographs while parents and community members visit. If any Spokane area teachers are interested, drop me and email and let's see what we can do together.

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