Now & Then: Seeing the Future from the Past

I've always been fascinated by the Then & Now photos you see on the internet, where a person is holding an old photo up to the same scene today. After writing a series of then and now pictorials for the blog, I was thinking about a way to do combine then and now photos that's a little different than what I've already seen.  What resulted was a project where I hold photos of the present against scenes of the past.  It's interesting to look at a scene as if you were seeing the future from that moment.  My hand is meant to be in the scene from the past, therefore I tinted or colored it for each photo to match the scene.  Before creating the scenes, I photographed my hand against a white background (to make it easier to mask), and gathered public domain photos from WikiMedia Commons that were similar to photos I already had. Here are some of the entries I've made so far:

"Then" Photo: "Paris Exposition: Champs Elysees leading to the Arc d'Triomphe, Paris, France, 1900" (image with no known copyright restrictions) from Brooklyn Museum via WikiMedia Commons

(Artist's Point, Lower Yellowstone Falls)

"Then" Photo: "The Mall, Central Park, New York City" (Public Domain Image) from Library of Congress Via WikiMedia Commons

(Central Park)

"Then" Photo: "Eiffel Tower, Paris, France, 1900." (Public Domain Photo) from Brooklyn Museum via WikiMedia Commons

"Then" Image: "Eiffel Tower and fountain, Exposition Universal, 1889, Paris, France" from Library of Congress via WikiMedia Commons

"Then" Image: 'T.A Moulton Barn in Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming, USA." (Public Domain Image) by either Lorin Wiggins, John H. Delfaas, Jr. or Al Huntsman from Library of Congress via WikiMedia Commons

"Then" Photo: "Opera House in Paris" (image with no known copyright restrictions) from Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library via Flickr

"Then" Photo: "Outside the 26th Annual Academy Awards at RKO Pantages Theater in Los Angeles, Calif., 1954." (Public Domain Image) by Los Angeles Daily News via WikiMedia Commons

(Pantages Theater in Hollywood)

"Then" Photo: "The City from California Street" by Carleton Watkins from the Museum of Photographic Art via Flickr

(San Francisco)

"Then" photo from Tom Simpson


"Then" Photo: "The Mansion at Yaddo" (Public Domain Photo) from Library of Congress via Wikimedia Commons (Yaddo in Saratoga Springs, NY)

"Then" photo: "Yaddo Pergola" (Public Domain Photo) from Library of Congress via Wikimedia Commons

(Yaddo in Saratoga Springs, NY)

Update:  I have removed my Normandy photo.  The "then" image in the photo is listed as being in the public domain on WikiMedia Commons, but upon careful inspection, I discovered that the Imperial War Museum, the organization that uploaded the photo, put certain restrictions on the use of the photo (i.e. it cannot be modified).  While this goes against the definition of public domain, I do not want to violate their wishes, therefore, I have removed the photo.


  1. These are absolutely stunning. What a totally brilliant, thought-provoking, and in a couple of cases, heart-wrenching series of photos. Amazing. (I found you via

  2. Bonsoir, Samantha. A mon avis, ces images soulignent en quelque sorte le sens de la transcendance de nos vies. Réaliser que nous ne sommes que des êtres qui se promènent sur une scène que d'autres ont construit dans le passé et qui les a survécu. Une scène que nous pouvons actualiser ou même étendre, parfois aussi abimer ou détruire. Mais une scène qui, à son tour, nous survivra et deviendra l'environnement de ceux qui viendront derrière nous. Un grand merci pour ton travail.

  3. I love those type of photos and want to try my hand. In looking at yours, what's the size of the background older photo your using? How would you achieve this if you have a digital copy on the computer. What's the trick to making this happen.

    1. I get the older photo at the highest resolution available. Then I size the other photos (the one of my hand and the newer photo) to match it appropriately, in Photoshop.


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