In this exhibit, photographs of Grand Canyon trails and cityscapes from seven towns in Northern Arizona obtained from Northern Arizona University's archives, as well as other repositories, have been rephotographed and matched to engage visitors in this unique story and process. Some of the original photographs are from the early twentieth century, many are from mid-twentieth century, and others were taken twenty-five years ago. Each one alone is a piece of the regionâ€™s history with its own story. Paired with photographs made a mere year or two ago, the story takes new shape, full of meaning and open to interpretations that alter the plot in unexpected ways. Repeat photography re-creates primary sources, and in terms of archival value, the matching of "then" to "now" allows photography to be used in myriad ways, from historic documentation to research to exhibition to publication to simply personal enjoyment.
Repeat photography can be viewed as simply an artistic endeavorâ€”an interesting way to appreciate one aspect of what photography offers: a glimpse into the past. There are many reasons and ways to embark on a repeat photography endeavor. Repeat photographers reshoot natural landscapes, people, and/or the built environment. Observations of historic and environmental changes can be revealed in this unique visual format for preservation value or for science. Glacier National Park scientists, for example, are using repeat photography as part of their ongoing research on the rapid demise of the glaciers to gain more accurate information on the rate of decline in light of the prediction that all of the glaciers will have melted by 2030. Documenting the landscape as it is being altered over the years in order to study the effects of climate change sheds a whole new light on the theory supporting repeat photography. Whether the purpose is artistic or scientific, only through repeat photography can new iterations of familiar places be revealed.