Helsinki Rephotography and Kuvaa uusiksi projects aimed to encourage the activity of retaking photographs of landscapes and architecture in Southern Finland, in order to engage people in the history of their local area, but also to collect new open licensed or public domain images of the city. This has been done especially by organising guided photowalks that are planned around old photographs taken from the area. An integral part of these walks is the possibility to rephotograph historical images and get guidance for it. With the help of Ajapaik mobile phone application, users can easily find an angle and a crop to match the old photographs in order to create new ones, which will then stay in Ajapaik for others to see.
The historical photographs used in these projects have been from the collections of museums involved and from Finna (a collection of search services, maintained by the National Library of Finland) which is at the core of our process, both in finding visual history details and public domain historical images.
Helsinki Rephotography was a project of Wikimedia Finland, and this spring it continued the photowalk activity from last autumn, starting again mid-March (after a winter pause) when estimated warm and consistent enough weather conditions in Finland. The activity consisted of 1,5h long urban walks, that were a crossover between guided tours and photo workshops. Two of the events lead us to climb into local towers, to photograph Helsinki from a bird's eye view.
The participants were introduced to Ajapaik rephotography app during the walks, many for the first time, and encouraged to try it out. The walks were planned and conducted as a co-operation between an arts educator and a guide specialised in each theme. This spring we concentrated especially on building co-operation possibilities with museums. For museums, these photowalks (and rephotography itself) can be interesting opportunities to engage the public with their collections in a participatory way.
The walks proved to be not only interesting opportunities to get to know local history and rephotography, but also cheerful gatherings of people from different age groups and backgrounds, as well as spaces for discussion on personal and public histories, remembrance and ideas. This kind of interaction seemed to be valued after the Covid-19 restrictions and isolation. We were also able to use the walks as a testing ground for an IOS version of Ajapaik rephotography app.
4.5. and 13.5. Photographer Signe Brander up in the air: photo tour of Paasitorni (tower). Prepared in co-operation with Paasitorni Helsinki Congress Paasitorni and Kati Kosonen, who works at Paasitorni as marketing chief and is very familiar with the history of the building.
There were 15 rephotography walks (2-3/museum) arranged by a project coordinator Inka Tuominen. Pictures chosen by the project coordinator and museum staff were downloaded to Ajapaik. Each tour was also published as a blog post in Kuvaa uusiksi -blog with a map, short historical background texts and instructions on rephotography. In addition, Kuvaa uusiksi arranged two learning events on photographing in public places and present-day documentation. Local museums do already some collaboration with amateur photographers in documenting present day and the events were aiming to find more volunteers and tell about museums’ photo collections in general.
The audience found the walks interesting and it was a great way to hear memories and discuss about changing townscapes. For present-day documentation purposes rephotographing is a too limited tool but via the project museums found new potential photography volunteers. A how-to -guide for rephotography walks can be downloaded from Tuusula Museum website (in Finnish).