The United States Library of Congress (LOC) is seeking COVID-19 pandemic-related images from photographers based in the United States, it has announced through the photo-sharing website Flickr. The LOC has teamed with Flickr to launch a new group dedicated to these images; anyone can add their images of pandemic life in the US to this group, which will be evaluated by Library curators. Some images will become part of permanent collections.
The opportunity to submit images is open to all photographers — both pro and amateur — located in the US or its territories, according to Flickr, which is home to the new ‘COVID-19 American Experiences‘ group. Flickr users must join this group in order to submit their images for the LOC’s consideration.
Library curators will decide which images get added to the Flickr group photo pool and which go on to become preserved in permanent collections. Photographers seeking this distinction should assign a Creative Commons license to their images that will allow the LOC to display the photos on its website if selected, Flickr notes.
Participants are allowed to submit up to five ‘graphic artworks’ or photographs for consideration. The curators are looking for content specifically related to the COVID-19 pandemic, with Flickr noting that photographers can submit ‘photos that depict your experiences of the pandemic’ on a variety of topics, including things like street scenes, panic buying, elder care and similar things.
The photos can also depict emotions in relation to the pandemic, such as sorrow, grief or joy. There are a couple of big requirements, however, including that the images must be appropriate for viewers of all ages and that they must meet Flickr’s ‘safe’ guidelines, which means ‘acceptable to a global, public audience.’
The LOC explains that its goal is to expand how much documentation it has on the current pandemic, doing so by tapping the wider public community spanning many more aspects and parts of the US than the photographers and artists already higher for special projects.
As of September 10, the COVID-19 photo group has around 160 images featuring a variety of subjects, including pandemic-inspired graffiti, images of masks for sale, empty parks and restaurants, protesters, close theaters, people wearing masks, medical workers and more.
The Library of Congress is home to vast photo archives, including a large number of photos showing the last major pandemic to impact the world: the 1918 flu that claimed around 50 million lives. The public can view the Library of Congress photo archives on its digital collections website. The photos are joined by collections ranging from archived websites to old newspapers, audio recordings and maps.