A number of Art students recently took part in a Rephotography project where they were asked to look at old photographs from the past and blend with images of today. The images shot for Dorset AONB's Drawing Inspiration project sit firmly in the documentary rather than the pictorial tradition: the emphasis on recreating as faithfully as possible the original photograph, rather than to shoot landscape images that might grace a National Trust calendar or gallery wall.

The rephotography process is fascinating - part detective work, part research, part exploration, lots of searching the landscape for visual clues. Work with the five schools involved in the project concentrated on town centres and prominent buildings rather than the wider landscape, easing orientation once on the spot. They process starts with Google maps and Google Earth, after choosing the original photographs; churches where they figure in the original image help establish a general line of approach, but often local knowledge proves to be the best guide.

Rephotography started as a scientific tool, Victorian geographers and geologists quick to seize upon the photographic image to record change over time. It became a more mainstream photographic project through the work of American photographer Mark Klett who’s Second and Third View projects re-interpreted the early work of the American mid-West photographers of the 19th Century.  Presentation of old and new images can vary from simple pairing of prints through montage to a more complex digital blending.

Richard Jeffery

Artist in residence working with the Woodroffe School, the Lyme Regis Museum and the Dorset AONB.

Below is a quote of the project by one of the students:

"When we were first given the Rephotography assignment, I was intrigued but apprehensive – the prospect of taking a decades-old photo from the same place and angle to the point where I could blend them together was daunting. However, it was when, as a class, we visited the Lyme Regis Museum to look at some examples of old photos that I realised that they were the same locations I walked by every day – the only difference was the time in which they were taken. Trying to recreate the images ended up being quite enjoyable and felt almost like an orienteering exercise. However, what really brought the project alive for me was the blending together in post-production. It made me realise that, although we rarely consider it, we are more closely linked to the past than we may think. We walk the same streets as our ancestors, and they experienced joy, guilt and sadness just as we do. I thought this project would be about the locations, but, in the end, it was about the people. "

Student, The Woodroffe School, Lyme Regis, Dorset








JCTSA Partner Schools: Acorn Federation, Axe Beacon Federation, Axe Valley Community College, Axminster Community Primary, Bridport Primary, Budmouth College, Chard Area Federation of Schools, Charmouth Primary, Clyst Vale Community College, Colyton Grammar School, Hawchurch Primary, Holyrood Academy, Honiton Community College, Marshwood Primary, Payhembury Primary, St Mary’s Primary Bridport, St Mary's Primary Thorncombe, Sir John Colfox, South Dartmoor Community College, St Michael’s Primary, The King’s School, University of Exeter, The Woodroffe School Working in close partnership with Babcock LDP and Dorset LA