Waterloo Region’s landmarks get the Dear Photograph treatment
Mining memories of the tri-cities through photos
Andrea Bellemare, CBC News
Posted: May 27, 2013 9:56 AM ET
Last Updated: May 27, 2013 9:56 AM ET
The photos might come with dates stamped in the corner, or are faded from the sun.
Time capsules from a bygone era, they take on new resonance when juxtaposed against a present-day backdrop.
That’s the concept behind Dear Photograph, the brainchild of Waterloo, Ont. resident Taylor Jones. It’s a hugely popular website whose tagline reads “take a picture of a picture, from the past, in the present.”
Dear Photograph, which celebrated its second birthday on May 26, has been featured in international media, named one of Time’s best websites of 2011, and spawned a hardcover book.
CBC reached out to Taylor Jones to give the Dear Photograph treatment to landmarks in Cambridge, Kitchener and Waterloo. We spoke to him about Dear Photograph, and his latest venture Dandy, a crowdsourced app-development startup that he runs with Matt Scobel and Karl Allen-Muncey.
CBC: Did you think you would make it to two years when you started?
Jones: The way the Internet works I had no idea what was going to happen. Like, when it hit the first year it was pretty big. I’m not going to know really what happens every year, because websites they are hit-and-miss based on how long they last for. So I’ve just been very lucky to be able to keep it going for two years.
CBC: Why do you think Dear Photograph resonates with so many people?
I think it’s because everybody has that nostalgic feeling, whether or not they grew up 20 years ago … people always look back and look at their past. I think this is a way to kind of go in that dimension and do it in a totally different way, and people are very intrigued by it.
CBC: How many images do you get in an average day?
Jones: I probably get around five. Some days I get more, some days I get less. In summer 2011, I guess I was probably getting between 30 and 50 a day when it was very, very busy, but now it’s been very consistent with around five or so.
CBC: Do you have any tips for people if they want to submit photos to you?
I just look for a good compelling story. Like anything, good content is always a plus. It’s mostly something with a good story that’s well lined up, and the caption is compelling and everything. That’s usually what I look for, and if I like it, then I’ll usually post it.
CBC: How long do you think you’ll keep Dear Photograph going for, or any next steps you have in mind?
Jones: I really have no idea. At some point I’ve got to take it to the next level and do something with it, because for the past two years I’ve been posting just one photo a day.
So I’m looking forward to making it into something, starting something else that has to do with it, just to bring it to that next level. So we’ll see over the next little while what happens with it.
CBC: Dear Photograph isn’t the only thing that you’re doing, tell us about Dandy.
Jones: Dandy is a crowdsourced app development and validation engine. We just finished our three months in Hyper Drive [a local program to help tech start-ups] and we’re working on closing up some funding, and we’re going to stay in Kitchener.
So what we really do is we allow anybody to submit an app idea to Dandy. What happens from there, the best ones get voted up from the community. And we’ve teamed up with some third-party app developers. And we’re going to choose the top apps we think most people will actually buy, based on how the community votes on it, how they’re commenting on it and everything and then we go ahead and make them.
There’s a percentage [of the profits] that gets shared back to the person who came up with the idea - and also people who helped with different features or who helped design the app or description.
CBC: Have you had a lot of apps submitted so far?
Jones: We’ve had around 200 apps, and we’ve been around for about four months now. So it’s really good. We’re just about to open our public beta, we’ve had a closed beta, and we’ve had some great numbers we’ve had some really cool apps that have been submitted.
This interview has been edited and condensed.