Ingenious Camera Work Allows Photographer To "Time Travel" In Self Portrait Series

Ingenious Camera Work Allows Photographer To "Time Travel" In Self Portrait Series

I’m always intrigued by those photographers who shoot self portraits, particularly when they bring something new to the mix. Chino Otsuka used her camera and some skillful Photoshop work to not only carry out a self portrait series, but to transport herself back in time, into photographs featuring her younger self - sometimes from almost three decades in to her past. The results are both thought provoking and mesmerizing.

I often feel the strongest personal photography projects I’ve seen are by those who just have a simple vision or evocative idea, and just execute it really well. This is the foundation behind Chino’s “Imagine Finding Me” project. She explains her thinking:

"The digital process becomes a tool, almost like a time machine, as I'm embarking on the journey to where I once belonged and at the same time becoming a tourist in my own history."

It’s a wonderfully simple concept, yet really thought provoking. Chino obviously spent a good deal of time and effort working her “modern” self into the old images, matching color tone,  grain, depth of field, shading, light cast and shadow to replicate  the look and feel of the previous images.

Japan - 1980 & 2009 Japan - 1980 & 2009

France - 1977 & 2009 France - 1977 & 2009


Her modern self has an interesting relationship with her younger self in these images too. Sometimes she is just present in the photograph, other times they are interacting in some way, or her older self is mimicking what her younger self was up to at the time of the photo.

France - 1982 & 2005 France - 1982 & 2005

Spain - 1975 & 2005 Spain - 1975 & 2005


More than anything, as I look over these shots, I imagine what it would be like to really go back in time and meet my younger self – what would I say, how weird would it be and what would I advise my younger self with all the decades of hindsight I've had?

Like all memorable projects, it’s thought provoking stuff.  

Japan - 1979 & 2006 Japan - 1979 & 2006

Japan - 1982 & 2006 Japan - 1982 & 2006

Japan 1976 & 2006 Japan 1976 & 2006


For all the naysaying you can hear about how digital has had a detrimental impact on photography, whenever I see projects where digital makes concepts like these accessible to anyone, I can’t help but be inspired by the open ended possibilities of where photography is going, where it can go, and what we are capable of doing with it. 

If you had a chance to go back in time and meet your younger self, what would you say? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Image Credits / Via [Chino Otsuka]

Log in or register to post comments
James Jenkins's picture

What a fascinating concept, and executed with such quality and attention to detail! I doubt I ever would have even questioned if the inserted person weren't actually there in these images.

As you said, Dave... Very thought provoking stuff. Makes me wish I had more pictures of my younger self out there. I was almost always the one behind the camera, even growing up.

David Geffin's picture

Glad you found it interesting James, I feel the same way. Funnily enough, the day after i posted this, my brother dug out a few shots from back in the days when i was actually in front of the camera from 20+ years ago - was quite surreal to look back over them after all these years, especially because of this post!

Josiah Moore's picture

I loved everything about this!

EnticingHavoc's picture

The obsession with selfies elevated to a pro level. If that makes her feel better ... why not. Maybe a viable alternative to a $300/h psychiatrist.

jniz22's picture

Yes... this was done to make herself feel better... what a stupid comment.

jniz22's picture

P.S. do you like my selfie attached to this username? KILLED IT! And totally did it for A) attention B) to bang chicks and C) loneliness

Mansgame's picture

Oh boy! Another girl posting self portraits on the internet while all the guys who want to sleep with her cheer her on and tell her she's a genius! It's never been done!

A AA's picture

What has that got to do with this?

Mansgame's picture

It's just another narcissist taking selfies. Not much different from the thousands of girls on flickr who only put self portraits on. It deserves no attention.

Kian's picture

Your right that selfies are trash. No photographers or painters throughout history have used such a tragic art form to express themselves. Why do you troll so hard?

Mansgame's picture

When painters did it, there were no cameras and no "selfies". Now anybody (mostly chicks) who own an iphone do this. It's not that appealing. Wait, you're not one of those guys who comments on their pictures and says "great concept! I love the shadows" are you?

Kian's picture

Lol. You really aren't that bright are you.

Chase Anthony's picture

Except this girl actually has a concept and knows how to use photoshop for something other than overdone airbrushing. Highly doubt she did this to get attention from guys like the girls you're talking about.

P.S. flickr? Do people still go there?

André Diogo Moecke's picture

What people are using besides flickr? 500px? It's the same thing...

Chase Anthony's picture

The girls he's referring to are mostly using instagram. Those girls don't know what 500px is

Vissal P.'s picture

Way to go! You sir, win the award of biggest troll in this thread. Oh please teach me your bigotry ways.

Lorenzo P's picture

#Pow this is a win for the digital era!!!!!!

Robert Zembrzycki's picture

Clearly, every one hatin' on this idea is blinded by their negativity - come on, this is a well executed great idea! It may not be the freshest concept around, she gets points for a fresh approach though! Not to mention she maintained similar lighting, she photoshopped herself in in such a flawless matter - clearly no easy task and I'd like to see you haters try that. Putting her in the same league with dumb selfie bimbos is simply wrong and hurtful. The concept of a self portrait has been around for a VERY long time, do not dumb it down to just selfies, no matter if you take self portraits, or if you just comment on them.

David Geffin's picture

Couldn't agree more Robert. I never took self portraits, but those that do can sometimes produce outstanding results - and to lump them into the category of a selfie is pretty disingenuous.

Claudia Loeber's picture

This is a captivating concept that is flawlessly executed! The project is so much more in depth than some "narcissistic selfies". It's about the digital process. Photography exists as a method of expression but also documentation, and it continues to evolve as we do. The project showcases not only some incredible photoshop talent, but explores the idea of passing time, and that is a HUGE theme in today's society of instant gratification/ instant cures/ instant diets etc. We rush through so many things in life while this project does the exact opposite and takes a step back. Calling these images "selfies" is ignorant and foolish.

Thanks for sharing, because I loved these and seeing them definitely made my day better.

David Geffin's picture

You're welcome Claudia, glad it had the same effect on you as it did on me.

On another note - would you care to proof all my future articles? ;) Your summary paragraph here was on point!

Claudia Loeber's picture

Hahaha, thank you! You've got a deal! :)

GibraltarRoad's picture

Ms Loeber-Yes! A spot on reply to some previous posts.
Ms Otsuka-Can't wait to see more of your thought provoking work.

Vissal P.'s picture

Selfies just hit level 9000!!!

Awesome works. The whole thought of going back in time with photos of your old self.. it kind of creeps me out for some reason

Jamie Gellings's picture

Definitely makes me want to pull out some old photos! What a cool project - I wanna see the one she does in another couple of decades!