There is an expression that says “History repeats itself.” And I, being a photographer am a true and firm believer of this expression. After all, we as photographers are capturing history. Whether it be fashion, documentary, editorial, food, lifestyle, journalism, every area of photography is a historic documentation that otherwise would not have lived on outside of memories and stories of people that were there. This has always intrigued me as a photographer, I have the feeling that History depends on us to make photos.
I recently did some very unique copy-work for a new client. She was a soft-spoken aged woman that walked with a tall confidence that radiated from the moment that I met her. Carrying an old looking shoebox with her and a look on her face that said “I cannot wait to see these,” my mind was going in all directions as to what this job was going to in-tale. For some reason my mind was stuck on the last copy work that I did of some old black and white prints that needed to be scanned and basically digitized for the client. As the proud woman took her time putting down the mystery box, I knew that moments of someone’s life, moments of history awaited inside this box for me.
The box now open, I find four smaller boxes inside carefully packed with crumpled newspaper and on the front of one of these old tattered 3 1/2″ X 5 1/2″ boxes I make out the word “Roebuck.” I knew right away that this project was going to offer new challenges that I have not run into and that history was just about to repeat itself, just for me. Long story short, these negatives ended up being glass-plate negatives that my client wanted simple 4×6 prints made of. No retouching, just prints so that she could take a walk down memory-lane.
Below are a few of the negatives:
This experience was one of the most truly memorable moments in my photographic career. Knowing that these photos were taken WELL before my time here on earth and knowing that the photographer that took these for the reason to “capture a moment,” for others after that moment could see them. There could have be no way that was fathomable for the artist to know that I, Michael Wiesman would be digitizing them, but I think that our fates as photographers crossed for a moment, and that is a link that I feel many times even as I connect with works of the Masters.
As much as I want to share the process that I took to duplicate these, I will leave that for another post, I want to express that each and everyone of us is shaping the history that we will all look back at. We as photographers have a job to document our lives, some directly and other indirectly we all have a place in the history books as history will repeat itself for individuals that look at our images. That being said, let history repeat itself one more time as you look at a few of the finals below.