The Allure Of History

Austrian boy receives new shoes during WWII

Austrian boy receives new shoes during WWII

A friend of mine sent me this link to a list of interesting historical photographs. I really like the photo of a young Charlie Chaplin and also the scandalous bathing suit – ooh, but the early skin graft picture was kind of weird. These photos were probably not as engaging back in their day as they are now. At most they were dramatic news photos (i.e. the girl who jumped off the Empire State Building – Yikes!!!)  quickly forgotten once the paper was in the trash. But now the allure of history imbues them, making them fascinating and dramatic because they are now a window into a time past. Photography has always had this ability but aside from photojournalist (yeah okay, that’s a big part of photography) this imbued drama was accidental. Just by virtue of surviving they become more than there original intent.

Lifeguard on the coast, 1920′s

Lifeguard on the coast, 1920′s

This is exactly what I was getting at in my last post. Wouldn’t it be a great project if someone (okay me) photographed everyday scenes and events but with an eye toward History.  The “Everyday” is a major theme in contemporary photography but I want to imbue what is usually a personal moment, as is usually practiced by contemporary photographers, with a nod towards the future. It will be a neat experiment. Of course I won’t be able to experience the final results but at the very least it would be interesting to see how the images transform in history. Maybe, if I live to be 95 (okay that’s more than 40 years from now but you never know) I can pull out prints (or maybe I’ll make a book and tuck it away for 40 years) and record the reactions of the audience.

Basically, any photo can potentially fill this function but I want to do it intentionally and concentrate on places and things and people (ooh – typologies a la August Sanders) that will or may have interesting transformations through history.

On The Garden State Parkway, September 21, 2013. ©2013 Dave Ortiz

On The Garden State Parkway, September 21, 2013. ©2013 Dave Ortiz

First thing I guess is to start creating lists of possible subjects. Mainly on the East Coast of  the U.S. where I live but I do hope to travel more in my lifetime. Maybe part of my travel routine will be to make lists of “history places” to photograph, famous and also not so well known (at the moment).

Please feel free to send me any ideas. It will be greatly appreciated and hey, maybe I’ll send you a print if I actually photograph something you suggested.


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