I love old pictures of street scenes from my home town. Even better is when the newspaper publishes a current photo from the same vantage point so you can compare the same area then and now.
You can do the same with your own family landmarks, including people.
For the brick and mortar of your past, find a photo you like, track down the old building, station yourself at the same spot the old photographer used and snap away. Follow the same technique with people. Even better, shoot the same shot periodically over the years for a smoother transition effect.
Photographer Peter Feldstein used the technique to great effect and critical acclaim with his Oxford Project. After shooting the residents of Oxford, Iowa, in 1984, Feldstein returned to photograph them again 21 years later. Working with writer Stephen Bloom, the duo produced a stunning book of the project.
For further ideas, check out the Then and Now group on flickr.
Writing prompt of the day: Make a list of relatives and buildings you want to try this technique on and get started.
Larry Lehmer is a personal historian who helps people write their family histories. To learn more, check out his web site, send him an e-mail or follow him on Twitter.
Flickr photo courtesy of Bob n Renee.