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Friday, 04 March 2011


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"... at the same time I'm not feeling a richness of deeper meaning there. Except maybe that it's kinda creepy not to act your age."

I agree. The photos have an intial gee whiz factor but I don't think I'll be returning to them. The execution exceeds the quality of the concept.

I think these photos can be viewed (and interpreted) on a number of levels; a fun project, an interesting temporal juxtaposition, a creepy exercise etc.

I quite liked them. An interesting way to look at the past and the present, but now that Ms. Werning has done it no one else can :)

I think a few of them are fascinating and dangerous in some sense.

Reminds me a tiny bit of Diane Arbus and Im not sure why, really.

To me, the key is in the editing of the final results..determining which ones are successful in the concepto grande. Having the discipline to make determinations and not show certain of these.

Funny, a photographer I actually know personally!! I don't think the concept is innocent, though.
Her father was my economics professor in college, quite an interesting guy!
I even know a couple of the people in the photos. If I had to figure something about it all I'd say it's mainly about innocence lost.

I'd like to suggest that this is one VERY interesting photographer. Thanks for sharing this Mike. Her website is one fascinating project after another....Having never seen her work before I am thrilled. check it out. http://irinawerning.com/

Coincidentally, I was looking at her project on Wednesday and shared it with my wife. Neither of us found it creepy or distrubing, but amusing to see the changes time brought to the subjects. I would agree with Max,that it speaks more of innocence lost, than anything else. Maybe the reactions are more a reflection of subconcious beliefs instilled from our upbringing?

Dear Mike,
I have seen this before, and I do think it is very interesting. It is humans being human. I do quibble a bit with the notion that there is something odd about "a picture of an adult woman dressed as a little girl holding a teddy bear". It shows something that is always there, but hidden: we are still the children we once were in addition to being the adults we are now. I think this series could belong to the 'revelatory photograph' genre; the technique is different than the jumping photographs of Philippe Halsman, but the idea is the same: let the subject show themselves by disrupting their usual context.*

I think the portrait of her parents is particularly touching. There, the constancy of setting and expression speak to a constancy of love and affection. (An aspect of romantic photography I rarely see.)

*this is not to imply that all of Halsman's work was about that, but to give him credit for the trick. Also, Nixon jumping. What can beat that?

could have been inspired by borges, the general idea being that repetition is bad.

I have seen the Back to the Future series before, and I really like them. For me the highlight is her attention to detail, which she applies to all aspects of her recreations; the lighting is mimicked well, the clothing and props, the expressions, as well as visual quality of final piece (washed out colors and soft focus are dutifully recreated). It's not that I enjoy her precision in technique as an end to itself, it's that her precision in technique removes the kinds of irregularities that would detract from the immersive experience of viewing the images in the project.

I hadn't seen the then_me/now_me project before. It's also really cool, and for the opposite reason. The lack of precision of technique makes the images engaging in an entirely different sort of way for me. There is personality and individual character to each pair of images that informs me a little bit about the person who submitted them. This project is more voyeuristic for me, with the subjects happily sharing themselves. It feels intimate, which I quite like.

The best part for me is viewing each of these projects back to back.

While the idea might not be creatively original, Ms. Werning's actual execution of it is certainly noteworthy. Wow. What extraordinary attention to detail.

I think it's a wonderfully memorable body of work. Aside from the remarkable scene replication, this is something that photography might be uniquely capable of presenting. Get past the techie photography aspect (hard as it may be around here). What haunting human representations of time passage!

Thank you for the tip, Mike, Ben Rosengart, Alessandro Berno, and other fellow TOP-ers.

Taken as they are with the original paired next to it I find them amusing and quite impressed with her attention to detail in recreating each scene.

However, I will agree that if you took the new images away from their old partners then many of them would indeed be creepy when viewed as standalone images.

"...I guess this odd tension between very changed meaning and near-identical replication of the look and feel of the old photographs is what gives the pictures their interest, but at the same time I'm not feeling a richness of deeper meaning there. Except maybe that it's kinda creepy not to act your age."

Surely one of the universal human desires at times is the wish to revert back to a younger, more innocent, less damaged self, to see the world and your relationships with wonder again through your childish eyes. It's not a question of "acting your age" but rather a question of "feeling your age" which is usually a burden not a blessing. These pictures evoke for me so many tear jerking reflections (I say that with no cynicism intended) on the passage of time and the impossibility of recapturing lost moments of bliss; of course editing is the key but I don't see anything overtly inappropriate here, just a sensitive response to the original images.

"I'm not feeling a richness of deeper meaning there. Except maybe that it's kinda creepy not to act your age."


Nothing creepy about it at all to me. Really impressed.

Interesting, especially in the context of her website. I find I like her non (or less) directed reportage pictures better. It makes me realise once more that, as I see it, the more a photographer has influence on (or directs) the subject in front of the camera, the more the resulting photo will be about the photographer, and the less it will be about the subject. Nothing wrong with that in itself, but something is lost that way (variation, surprise - or something unexpected, openness to whatever may present itself in whatever way). Something, in short, that to me is one of the things that make photography worthwhile.

[Deja voodoo...] "Then and Now and Here and There": http://theonlinephotographer.typepad.com/the_online_photographer/2008/04/work-around-the.html

[But you didn't ever refer to this...]
"The Arrow of Time": http://www.zonezero.com/magazine/essays/diegotime/time.html

"On June 17th, every year, the family goes through a private ritual: we photograph ourselves to stop, for a fleeting moment, the arrow of time passing by." See Diego, Susy, Nicholas, Matias, and Sebastian from 1976 to 2008.

I think we all have one...

Have a look here: "Un-Possible Retour" by french artist Clarisse d'Arcimoles:



Not sure if you've seen the book "The Oxford Project" before (http://www.amazon.com/Oxford-Project-Stephen-G-Bloom/dp/1599620480/ref=tmm_hrd_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1299345678&sr=8-1) but it goes along the same theme. rather than trying to recreate the same photo 20 years later, the concept is more focused on the people - what happen to the people 20 years later, and what do they look like now, what did that little cutie with the freckles do in 20 years. It's very nice book, and I find the concept a little meatier, perhaps, than just recreating a photo. If you haven't seen it, it is definitely worth checking out. (BTW, I am trying to remember how I found out about this book - for all I know you may have been the one to point it out.)

Millee Tibbs

Creepiest post ever.

I've had pictures of my Wife as a baby & toddler on my desk for weeks. She's in a pram with one of her brothers stood next to her in one shot, sharing a pram with him in another, on bikes with him in another. I was only thinking last week that recreating the photo might be interesting, seeing these today I know that it's hardly a fresh idea, one that I'm not sure was worth doing.

"The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there"

L. P. Hartley

What's far more interesting about the shots of my Wife with her brother is that there's nothing in any of their photographs together that suggests she'd go on to hate him.

Someone will always find something offensive or at least inappropriate in everything, but this is taking it to a whole another level - I can't believe there are more people than one finding these photos anything other than endearing, innovative and unique.

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