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Who are you? Who, who, who, who?

Archivists, newspapers, historians, researchers, genealogists, regular folks – we all rely on accurate captions to add to the information provided by an image itself. And sometimes, we could use a helping hand.

Now, these days it’s easy to caption images from a portrait session – you’re dealing with one to a few people. It’s easy to caption the gist of an event, say, a wedding or political rally; you know you’re there to shoot Ben & Lisa’s marriage ceremony in High Point, North Carolina, or a march for a particular cause in a particular city. Or, for example, I know I took the above photos at the 2004 French Quarter Festival in New Orleans.

But who the heck are the individuals in the pictures I took?

What about specific captions for specific photos, when you’re shooting them by the hundreds? What about identifying subjects when you’re shooting street photography, or images where crowds, rather than individuals, predominate? What about being handed a collection of prints & negatives with no accompanying subject information? That ain’t nearly as simple.

That’s where the power of the crowd comes into play. Below are several photo-related crowdsourcing efforts currently underway; check them out & see if you have any details to add.

The New York Times is looking for help identifying people in the crowds at the 1960 Democratic National Convention in Los Angeles, as shot by Garry Winograd (he was my kinda guy, shooting the people watching the action, rather than the action itself).

The Maryland Historical Society is seeking those who might be able to add captions to the prints & negatives from the archive of Paul Henderson, a Baltimore commercial and news photographer who shot between 1929 and 1960. Their exhibit of his work will be up through August 2012; check out the finding aid to the collection to get the juices flowing.

The Library of Congress has been crowdsourcing for quite a while now; like other organizations they’re using Flickr’s The Commons to assist in publicizing their collections while soliciting potential caption details.

Do you work at an institution that’s currently crowdsourcing for information about your photograph collections? Add a link to your solicitation in the comments to spread the word!


Susan - My friend and former neighbor is the curator of the Paul Henderson exhibit!

The Archiphotovist - Then I think a visit to the exhibit is in order!

Alan Renga - We have been digitizing and placing online our photo collection via the Flickr Commons. So far we have around 115,000 images online! We are using crowdsourcing to help us identify the aircraft, people and places in the collection. So far, it has been very successful and we have received 1000s of comments which have been invaluable!

The Archiphotovist - @Alan, just took a look – and I’m likin’ the San Diego Air & Space Museum Archives collection! Wish I’d had a moment to take a look in person when I was out there in January. Thanks for sharing!

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