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Rephotography and Film Stills

Updated on June 11, 2014
Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0
Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0 | Source

"Rephotography is the act of repeat photography of the same site, with a time lag between the two images; a "then and now" view of a particular area. Some are casual, usually taken from the same view point but without regard to season, lens coverage or framing. Some are very precise and involve a careful study of the original image.

These procedures were adapted to, and became formalized as, a form of photographic documentary and image-based research in the middle 1970s. The founding work in this style was the Rephotographic Survey.

The accurate rephotographer usually determines severalfacts before taking a new image. An important starting point is the choice of the older image. To show continuity between the two images, rephotographers usually include in the frame a building or other object which is still there in the modern view." Wikipedia

The copyright holder of this file allows anyone to use it for any purpose, provided that the copyright holder is properly attributed. Redistribution, derivative work, commercial use, and all other use is permitted.
The copyright holder of this file allows anyone to use it for any purpose, provided that the copyright holder is properly attributed. Redistribution, derivative work, commercial use, and all other use is permitted. | Source

Re-photography in simple terms is the act of taking multiple photographs of an individual subject over a span of time. Sort of a before and after, then and now theme. There is little attention placed on the time of day, the season, format or coverage.

The idea is to clearly capture the differences in appearance of the subject over a prolonged time period.

This is mostly used in architectural photography, with new construction being one of the most common subjects. It is also very useful in archaeological applications regarding the progress in excavations as well as to document locations.

Used in the medical field for the observation of new treatments. In recent times this has become crucial in ecological, and climate studies and research, such as the investigations in regards to the study of the declining polar ice caps and the effects that this is having on the polar bear population.

Local government and research institutions also use this technique to measure rates of erosion and disappearing coastal areas.

One does not need to be present at all times to take the photographs, in some instances, actually, in the majority of cases, past photographs are used as basis for the capturing of new images that closely match the angle and perspective of the past images and a a basis to show continuity.

The time lapses can be over long periods to show extensive changes or can be done in periodic small time lapses to record minute changes.

Although the concept does not take season, times, angles as its main consideration, the best shots are those that follow as closely as possible the same conditions of the original past image with some even going as far as to reproduce equipment used at the time of the original image.

This approach is also used in social studies and to document trends, habits, and customs. The market for these images are in art galleries, social studies, photography publications, historical organizations, and collectors.

Thanks in large part to the advent of the digital age, some creative photographers take old photographs and combine them with new images to give an unreal and completely surreal perspective to the changes in time, and situations from the " then and now " moments.

Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)
Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0) | Source

A film still, often called a publicity shot, is nothing more than a photograph taken at a movie set of either the actors, the set or a combination of both.

Today this is mostly done digitally, yet some photographers are still hired by studio and production companies for such work.

The main purposes was and is to promote the movie production, and to use in PR campaigns. Often these stills are sold or given away to the general public, with most carrying an actor's autograph.

This is quite in use by the sports industry but the approach is more like a product campaign than a film still technique.

A long standing approach is to send theses film stills along with a PR article piece to movie review departments at the major media outlets which often take them kindly because the production company gains publicity and the media outlet has a story to print/cover/report.

Off course the bigger the star the less this is needed because the stars of the set often carry their own selling power by simply adding their name to a production. Sometimes this technique is used to capture specifics within a set and to use them for future references if the scene has to be redone.

There is a large and vibrant market for film stills, especially those of great movie icons, such as Marilyn Monroe, Clark Gable and so on.

" While not considered valuable at the time, avid collectors have created complete archives by salvaging and cataloging movie and television photographs, preserving a significant facet of American culture. These archives are a valuable cache for publishers who rely on these archives as a resource for entertainment material."[4] wikipedia

Whatever the motive for pursuing this genre, the photographer has to be able to capture the true essence of the scene and for actors, the images must be of the highest quality and that captures the actors as his/hers best if you want to do further work with them.

This technique was very popular in the heyday of Hollywood, but is still heavily relied upon today, especially with the movie industry fierce competition amongst the major movie industry mega production studios.

© 2011 Luis E Gonzalez


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    • wheelinallover profile image

      Dennis Thorgesen 6 years ago from Central United States

      I really enjoy reading your articles. There just aren't enough hours in the day to do all the things which peak my interest. After the pictures from the trip to Oklahoma were downloaded the camera has been idle. Just too busy to pick it up.

    • Cardisa profile image

      Carolee Samuda 6 years ago from Jamaica

      Very informative as usual,I really appreciate the series you have been doing on photography. Hope to learn more from you.