The DC Public Library is using Flickr to run an interesting photography contest. Photographers choose any of the historic photographs from the DCPL Flickr Commons collection, take a new photograph of the same location, and upload it to the DC Then and Now group which the library set up for the contest. Participants can just upload the new picture and add a link to the old, stitch the old and new together, or remix the images in any way they want, encouraging creativity.
The new images must be given a Creative Commons license, which means that the library (or anyone else) will be able to use them within the generous conditions of the license. (There are four versions of the Creative Commons license on Flickr — all require attribution to the photographer, and differ in whether they restrict commercial use and allow for derivative works.)
Participants differ in how they interpret the idea of then-and-now pictures. Some entries are a totally different view of the building or object shown in the original picture, while others try to capture exactly the same view as the original.
My favorite photographs here are the ones by Flickr user tvol,Timothy Vollmer. In addition to adding his matching images to the group, he also adds a three-part image showing his process, and explains his process:
“These three-photo sets show the process I used in taking photographs for the DCPL Labs DC Then & Now group. The top photo is the original from the DCPL Commons set, which I loaded onto my iPhone so I’d know which perspective to shoot. The middle photo is the location of the original represented through Google Street View (also from iPhone). The final photo is the updated photograph I took, captured with a Nikon d90. “
Any library could do a contest like this with their historical images, whether those images are on Flickr, your website or an online digital archive. Using a Flickr group to collect the entries makes it easy for both the participants and the library, and it means that all images will be public and free for others to enjoy. Participants would only need to sign up for a free Flickr account to participate, and any Flickr user can start a group. This is a great way to engage the community in your local history collection!