Past Meets Present

Remember Young Me, Now Me? Photographer Sander Koot has created a similar series, called Back from the Future, where he places old photographs of people next to pictures of their present selves. “In this project, I ask people to find old portraits of themselves, of which they have good memories,” says Koot. “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, (do) we start the shoot.”

Update: We were able to get in touch with Sander Koot to ask him some questions about this project. Read that interview, below, after enjoying his wonderful series.

Why did you create the series?
During a portrait photography course, we were asked to think of a creative concept for a series of portraits. I thought of this concept and got very positive comments so I started to photograph the first person. For me, this concept has a secondary goal and that is learning from the elder people about the past and giving them a pleasant experience during the shoot.

How did you go about asking these people if you could retake their portraits?
I started with my own family and family of friends but later I also photographed complete strangers. I tell people about my project and sometimes this leads to new models. In advance to the shoot I explain what we're going to do and what I expect from them. There's not much: only a few old photographs to choose from and they have to have good memories of them. I always tell them that the shoot is big fun (and it is!) and I show them my previous work.

When visiting the people for the shoot (at their own homes to make them feel comfortable) I try to hear as much as possible about the selected images. Why and where was the image taken? How was that time for them? Together we choose 3 to 5 images for the remake and it should be real portraits; no holiday pictures. Talking about the pictures and getting to know each other takes about 1 to 2 hours and the actual shoot takes 30 minutes at the most.

While making the pictures I only try to pay attention to the composition and background, to match the old photo as well as possible. I never ask them to get out any attributes or props; they always do that themselves and that's great to see!

Are there any funny of inspiring stories you'd like to share about it?
Loads! Every single shoot is a story on its own! I visited an 89-year-old couple who told me all kinds of great stories behind their 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!

One woman (85) told me her picture was taken right after WWII and that 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 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.

Sander Koot's website

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