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Come to think of it, nearly every photography site builds up its collection through crowdsourcing. Crowdsourcing for the uninitiated, is the tapping of the wider community to solve a particular problem or accomplish a specific task. The wider community is everyone out there who is willing to contribute. Wikipedia is the best example of crowdsourcing where the “wisdom of the crowds” is asked for to fill up the vast online encyclopedia (and also fund it).
A photography website can and does benefit from crowdsourcing. Today, everyone with a camera phone is a photographer. From street life to the wonders of the world, everything is a click away. This can, if tapped effectively, lead to some wonderful results – like the four photography websites that are interesting concepts in themselves, but also get amplified because of crowdsourcing.
The very nicely designed homepage pulls you in. Then there are the nature sounds too in the background. The idea behind the photography project was simple – build the world’s largest online collection of panoramic photos numbering 250,000 photos in all. It was actually a promotional campaign and a contest with a social side. I am saying ‘was’ because the contests don’t seem to be on though the photos are very much there. The photography project was thanks (surprisingly) to the initiative of a footwear company. Merrell manufactures high quality hiking boots among other things, so there’s the travel and adventure angle.
The goal of the campaign was to ask the crowd to upload their favorite outdoor shots and help create the world’s largest interconnected and geo-located panoramic photo. The intention was that each photo would contribute to help support public lands around the world that included National Parks Foundation, American Hiking Society and Conservation Alliance. The target – 250,000 photos. From their side, Merrell would match it with $250,000.
After the eye-catching appeal of the previous photography site, Picture Post seems almost bland. But in the real world we live in, the project is far more significant. Picture Post is a part of the Digital Earth Watch (DEW) network. DEW is an informal program that backs environmental monitoring by citizens, students and community organizations through digital photography and satellite imagery. Picture Post was developed thanks to funding by NASA.
To join in, all you need is a digital camera (or a camera phone). Picture Post is a photograph (or a series of photos) taken from a fixed spot (for e.g. a platform that’s at a height) that records the changes in the environment over time. Such standardized set of photographs are then uploaded to the Picture Post website and shared with other citizen scientists. The crowdsourced images contribute a lot to environmental monitoring and spread some ‘Earth’ awareness.
Picture Post is about the future, WhatWasThere is about the past. The project is a virtual time machine built with a series of crowdsourced historical photographs. If you have an old photo of your neighborhood, you can easily upload the photograph with two tags – Location and Year. If the project manages to collect enough photos of a place, it can weave together a photo-history of the place and take us back in time. The old photos are on a layer above the current street view and you can fade in and out to see how the place has changed with time. We have covered WhatWasThere briefly in our Directory.
If you love shopping then TurnHills is for you, the shopaholic. Even if you don’t, you can window shop virtually here. This interesting project asks for submissions from the community who live in some of the greatest shopping cities of the world. Participants should have basic knowledge of photography so that they can capture window displays and upload them to the site. TurnHills hopes its crowdsourced photo method will lead to a well-rounded collection of window displays that can be exhibited digitally online.
These four crowdsourced photography projects aren’t the only ones of course. Interesting crowdsourced projects like the New York Times Picturing 7 Billion project came before…crowdfunded photographic projects are always on at . Do you know of any other interesting crowdsourced and crowdfunded photography project? What do you think about the crowdsourcing idea in general? Step away from the crowd and tell us.
Image Credit: Raised Hands by anankkml