I was encouraged to look at Mark Klett’s rephotography work, following my C&N A1 project, in which I’d aimed to use the same scenes at different times to tell different fictional stories.
Klett’s work serves as an introduction to rephotography for me. The process: ‘”rephotographs” were made from the originals’ vantage points with as much precision as possible. Every attempt was also made to duplicate the original photographs’ lighting conditions, both in time of day and year. (Third View). Klett mentions that ‘repeat photographs’ were practiced as early as the 1960s by scientists but that the RSP project was the first to do so in an art context.
The BBC’s website features Colin Prior (a landscape photographer) explaining how to go about a rephotograph. He explains it simply as, Rephotography is the act of taking a new version of an existing photograph to create a “then and now” view of a location. The two images can then be compared, highlighting what has changed and what has remained the same.
Davidson’s handbook includes an in-depth chapter on rephotography, including its historic uses, useful techniques to locate sites, and case studies. He discusses its use in showing change:
- Changes in the landscape, due to man’s activities
- Changes in cultures, customs and ways of living
- Changes in the environment and vegetation
- Climate change
- Changes in the urban landscape
I’ve sometimes looked at the old photographs in my village pub and wondered how it would be to take photos of the same scenes today – I now know that there is a name for that area of photography, ‘rephotography’.
BBC [website]. What are rephotographs. Available from: http://www.bbc.co.uk/scotland/landscapes/what_are_rephotographs.shtml [accessed 14.12.15]
Davidson G. Handbook of documentary photography [online] Available from: http://home.onemain.com/~home_range/doc_phot/4_rephot.htm [accessed 14.12.15]
Mark Klett [website]. Rephotographic Survey Project. Available from: http://www.markklettphotography.com/rephotographic-survey-project/ [accessed 14.12.15]
Third View [website]. A rephotographic survey of the American West. Available from: http://www.thirdview.org/3v/home/index.html [accessed 14.12.15]