Snap! How photographs from the past became an internet sensation
Thursday 07 July 2011
Taylor Jones was sifting through a box of old family photos when he found a picture of his younger brother sitting in a chair at the kitchen table. The 21-year-old Canadian looked up and noticed that the same chair was in front of him. Lifting the picture to fit with the background behind it, he stumbled across an idea which has landed him a book deal and turned his photography blog into a global internet phenomenon.
"The past month has been crazy. I can barely keep up," he told The Independent by phone from Ontario. "I had an idea and it just went mad." That idea was as simple as it was infectious: take a picture of an old photo held up in front of the place it was originally taken and post it online. The result is a seemingly magical doorway to the past, filled with nostalgia, that combines the old method of printing photographs with the viral might of social networking.
In a month, Mr Jones's website DearPhotograph.com has gone from a start-up blog to the latest cyber "meme" with more than 3.5 million hits and an army of dedicated fans. "People can relate so readily to it," he said. "After the five photos I originally posted I've been crowd-sourcing other people's photos. I get about 30 photos a day and so far the site has had around 3.5m hits."
Submissions have come in from across North America, Britain, Brazil and Australia. Every day, Mr Jones wakes up to a new batch of photos from people dusting off their family albums and giving them a new lease of life. Part of the website's appeal is the way each photo contains a caption underneath it providing a brief – and often tantalisingly short – description of what the photograph means to the person who took it.
Mr Jones said the shot with the most hits so far was posted a week ago and shows an old man looking at a bench. The old photo shows the same bench and the same man with his laughing wife years earlier. The caption reads: "Dear photograph, thank you for everything we had."
"That one has been really popular," he says, "It's pretty decent, really intense. It's really cool to see people's stories behind the photos."
Life & Style blogs
KickAssTorrents down: biggest file-sharing site moves to .cr domain after takedowns
Company breaks open Apple Watch to discover what it says is 'planned obsolescence'
Watch teenager Collin Burns break the Rubik's Cube world record by solving puzzle in just 5.25 seconds
The confessions of men who ordered mail-order brides
'Are you beach body ready?' backlash: Protein World boss labels feminist campaigners 'terrorists'
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
The sickening truth about food banks that the Tories don't want you to know
Aaron and Melissa Klein: Oregon anti-gay bakers ordered to pay $135,000 after refusing to make cake for same-sex wedding
Andrew Lloyd Webber: Phantom of the Opera writer mocked after issuing a warning about Ed Miliband and Nicola Sturgeon
General election 2015: Labour will toughen hate crimes legislation surrounding Islamophobia
HSBC review into moving headquarters from UK 'underway'
- 1 Migrant crisis: Greek soldier saved 20 people singlehandedly off Rhodes beach
- 2 Frank Lampard's face drops when Holly Willoughby introduces him as a 'Man City legend'
- 3 UK weather: Britain braced for snow as arctic air mass moves in
- 5 General Election 2015: Stephen Hawking says he will vote Labour
iJobs Gadgets & Tech
£30000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - Guildford/Craw...
£13500 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Customer Service Assistant is...
£26000 - £29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...
£75000 - £85000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are the largest and fastes...