Take an Emotional Journey Through Time with Photographer's Amazing "Past and Present" Project

Take an Emotional Journey Through Time with Photographer's Amazing "Past and Present" Project

Three years ago, Photographer Christian Carollo came upon his grandfather's travel photography from across the United States. The initial spark for the "Past and Present" Project started with a particular image of the small coastal town of Winchester Bay, Oregon. Christian wondered if he could replicate the image and he succeeded. This was the start of an epic and awe-inspiring project now known as the Past and Present Project. Christian has traveled all over the United States, continuing to replicate his grandfather's images. The results are breathtaking and have re-inspired in me the true emotional potential a single image can have.

For Christian, this has been a time-consuming, yet endlessly rewarding project. His grandfather was of course a film photographer; Christian has taken the time to scan the slides and create prints of his grandfather's work. He also doesn't just drive up at any time and snap a pic.

It has taken quite a bit of time: researching exact locations of the images, researching the best light for each location, getting prints made, and then finally mapping out my days to capture all of the photos on my trip.

I feel particularly drawn to these images, due to so many being taken in my hometown of New Orleans. Many of these scenes are places I pass by on a weekly, if not daily basis. New Orleans is a city where nostalgia is not lost; we can see it and feel it around us. Many of the images of Christian's grandfather seem to make these places more real, as if it's how they are supposed to be seen.

The morning routine inside of Cafe Du Monde in the French Quarter.

Directly outside of the iconic coffee stand.

In front of St. Louis Cathedral in New Orleans' Jackson Square.​

Upon returning home and seeing the interest that built around that single photograph, I wondered how many more I could possibly capture. With the help of my grandmother’s detailed travel journals from their cross-country trips, I have managed to discover the location of dozens of my grandfather’s images. A project that began by chance now often determines where my next journey will take me. 

-Christian Carollo

Christian has traveled not only to my beautiful city of New Orleans, LA on his project, but all of this great country. I hope you enjoy this gallery of some of Christian's and his grandfather's work.

Fisherman's Grotto, San Francisco CA - Original taken in 1979.

The Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco CA - Original taken in 1979.

Badlands National Park, South Dakota - Original 1981.

Yosemite National Park, CA - Original 1979.

New Orleans, LA - Original taken in 1978.

St. Francisville, LA - Original taken in 1978.

Big Sur, CA - Original taken in 1979.

Breckenridge, CO - Original taken in 1981.

Williamsburg, VA - Original taken in 1978.

 

Unfortunately, his grandfather passed before this project began, but Christian finds joy knowing he is following in his grandfather's footsteps and honoring his photography. In a way, this is Christian's gift to his grandfather.

I remember my grandmother mentioning on several occasions about how disappointed he was that his children were not very interested in seeing the photos from these trips at the time. It makes me very happy that I can now present his photographs to a much larger audience. He will never know it, but his work did not go to waste!

You can find more from Christian and his grandfather on Christian's site: The Past and Present Project. The project also has its own Instagram, which you can follow here.

All photos used with permission of Christian Carollo.

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3 Comments

I was expecting to see the same composition and perspective as in the first picture, good job anyway.

I had the great pleasure of meeting Christian a few years ago, when he visited Oak Alley Plantation in Vacherie, Louisiana (Photo is mislabelled as "St. Francisville, LA - Original taken in 1978."). He's a great guy, a terrific photographer, and we wish him great adventures on his journey!

Here's a photo I took on the same day he visited, but looking in the opposite direction - away from the Big House mansion.

Thank you for sharing this inspiring story, which I stumbled upon after hearing about the project on NBC Nightly News tonight. Walking in the footsteps of our ancestors is such a beautiful way to honor those who have gone before, and all the more special to have a travel journal to guide your steps. I am sure Christian's grandfather is smiling down on his grandson.