Only a few old photographs with good memories

In this project I ask people to find an old portrait of them selfs, of which they have good memories. We remake that picture.

It all started with my own family and family of friends but later I also photographed complete strangers. I tell people about my project and sometimes that leads to new models. Prior to the shoot I explain what we’re going to do and what I need. That’s not much: only a few old photographs with good memories to choose from.

Stories behind the pictures

The shoot always takes place at their own homes to make them feel comfortable. I try to hear as much as possible about the selected images and their stories. Why and where was the image taken? What do they remember? What’s the story behind the old image. Together we choose 3 to 5 images for the remake and it should be real portraits; no holiday snapshots. It takes about 1 to 2 hours to hear all the stories (which I love!) and it actual shoot takes 30 minutes at the most.

Reliving the happy moment

When talking to them about the picture, you see them reliving the happy moment. Only after I know all the details about the past of that picture, we start the shoot. I’ve visited a 89 year couple who told me all kinds of great stories behind the pictures; in which they were just 21 years old and just married. I really saw them reliving that moment and back came the sparkles in their eyes!

People hardly change

People’s looks hardly change over time, even after 50 or 60 years. They only grow smaller and get some wrinkles but the looks always stay the same. My photo project is proof for this.
It started with my own family and family of friends but later I also photographed complete strangers. I tell people about my project and sometimes that leads to new models.

The stories

One woman (85) told me her picture was taken right after WWII (1946) and she got her dress from the red cross and her mom had made some flowers on the dress. She was so proud! On her new bike she rode like 20 kilometers to the nearest photo studio to get her picture taken. She even put on her old ring, just to match the old photo. Beautiful.

The actual shoot

While making the pictures I only try to pay attention to their mimic, body position, composition and background, to match the old photo as good as possible. I never ask them to get out any attributes or props; they always do that themselves and that’s great to see! During the shoot it’s the challenge to exactly match the position of the models head and body and get them to imitate their looks.

Post-production

At post-production I crop and tilt the image and adjust some controls to match the old image. If it’s a high-contrast image, I’ll turn up the blacks in the new photo. After the first few shoots I converted all the pictures to black and white because I think that way the portraits stand out the best and you don’t get distracted by colors. But later I realized it’s sometimes better to leave old pictures in the original colors and adjust the new photo likewise.