Mark Klett and the Rephotographic Survey Projects

Writing a thesis involves books, piles and piles of books. Writing a thesis for a degree in photography involves piles of books with pictures. What a great way to get lost in, and often distracted from, your research. Access to the libraries of many universities is a wonderful and dangerous thing!

One book in particular really made an impression on me, Second View: The Rephotographic Survey Project.  A group of photographers, lead by Mark Klett, researched and rephotographed landscapes originally photographed by Timothy O’Sullivan and William Henry Jackson. The goal of the project was to replicate the optics, seasons and camera angles of the original images and let the changes, or lack of, over time tell the story. An extension of the project exists on-line with Third View.

The collected images are lovely and often very surprising. Many of the landscapes are changed by buildings, roads or telephone poles. What is surprising is how many after images show no change at all or only a natural change to the landscape.

Third View is an excellent interactive site to see many of the first, second and third survey images. Yale University Library has a few on-line as well. Mark Klett has a healthy list of published books, many collaborations inspired by historical photographs.


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