Site of the Week: dig up the past with Dear Photograph
Much in the spirit of Frank Warren’s PostSecret project in which people anonymously share secrets, Dear Photograph is a collective online scrapbook composed entirely of photos submitted by strangers. Taylor Jones, the 22-year-old founder of this now global phenomenon, curates the site, giving people an anonymous but community-based forum to tap into their pasts and share their experiences.
Although people can submit any kind of photo they want, the general format is to submit a picture of an older photograph being help up in front of the same spot where it was originally taken. Each post is accompanied by an explanatory anecdote that begins: “Dear Photograph…” — the idea being to illustrate the time elapsed, and to visually reconcile the past with the present.
Through a sort of digital nostalgia, Jones’s site offers a platform for people’s personal histories to form a timeline of universal experiences. The concept might seem simple or cliché, but the emotional response to these photos of photos is more complex than you’d expect, inspiring both a connection to the larger human family, and urging you to dig into your own past — and maybe even to contribute to the collection yourself.