Quite a few really nice submissions for the Dear Lawrence Project have come in thus far, and it’s easy to tell that people are having fun with it. After the last several weeks of shooting I’ve come across a few helpful tips and suggestions after my own bouts of frustration and error.
I’m sure simple geometry can explain it, but wide-angle lenses work best for the re-photographing. I’ve tried it with mid-range and long lenses and have yet to succeed. The wides just allow for more of the current landscape to be seen around the original photograph and really help with making the connection between the past and present.
Focus on a couple of elements within the photo to help measure the scale. In the accompanying photo, which was shot from my front porch and features my brother, Caleb Krug, I could tell by the angle that my mom or dad first shot the original while sitting down, so I did so as well. As I started to align the old image, I paid particular attention to the scale of the fence in the old photo I was holding relative to how it matched the fence across the street before re-photographing. To adjust and align, I simply pulled the old photo closer or farther away from my camera until the two appeared to be about the same size.
Also, with some photos, you may need to physically walk closer or farther away with the image outstretched in hand in order for the image and the background to begin aligning correctly.
It really helps to close one eye when you are aligning the photos. Binocular vision is great for about everything else except this project.
Now that we’ve been talking about geometry, pay attention to the lines and the angles of streets, sidewalks, windows. If you can hold out your old photo flat and upright in front of you without skewing it and the lines of elements in the background and old photo appear parallel, then you’re probably aiming it in the right direction.
Even with all these tips, which may or may not be helpful to you, the process can be challenging. However, that’s part of the fun.
Not everybody has an archive that extends back to the turn of the 20th century, and that is more than cool because almost everybody has family photos. With this in mind, we want to encourage people not to overlook the idea of re-photographing your own personal history. Some of the most effective and nostalgia-provoking images are the simple ones of family members from years ago or even recently. This project is about memories and the history that accompanies everyday places, but more importantly it is about people.