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Time after Time: Rephotography Seamlessly Blends Past and Present

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Now part of the Faneuil Hall Marketplace complex, Quincy Market has been transformed into one of the top tourist attractions in New England, its vendor stalls having given way to fine dining restaurants and bars. My Time After Time image of Quincy Market really captures the best parts of the old and the new.

Quincy Market, now part of Faneuil Hall Marketplace complex
Quincy Market, now part of Faneuil Hall Marketplace complex
(Image by courtesy of Mark Hersch)
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JB: Great. Now, if you're still up for it, how about a shot from either NYC or DC? What have you got up your sleeve?

MH: In each of my Time After Time cities there seems to be one image that becomes my biggest seller, or signature piece. In New York, it's "Times Square 1908 / 2018". The centerpiece of original image is the New York Times building in what was then known as Longacre Square, where 42nd St., 43rd St. and 7th Avenue converge. It would become known as "the crossroads of the world."

New York Times building in what was then known as Longacre Square
New York Times building in what was then known as Longacre Square
(Image by courtesy of Mark Hersch)
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The building opened on New Year's Eve in 1905, with a large crowd on hand to enjoy a fireworks show and other festivities. That tradition continues to this day, as the Times building - now completely encased in electronic billboards - is better known as the building where the ball drops on New Year's Eve. My Time After Time image conveys what the building would look like in present day Times Square:

'Times Square 1908 / 2018'
'Times Square 1908 / 2018'
(Image by courtesy of Mark Hersch)
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JB: I could do this all day! If a reader wants to check out your work, is a lot of it up on your website? Also, I'd like to know more about how you decide on where to go next. How will other cities end up on your list? What are you looking for?

MH: Yes, all of my work is showcased on my website - Each of my 200+ prints are available for purchase, as are my Time After Time City Books of Chicago, Boston, Washington DC, San Francisco and New Orleans. Each book contains all of the images I've created for that city, along with the dates of the original source image, and dates of the images I shot to create the finished pieces.

I have three cities in mind for my next Time After Time work: Miami, Cincinnati and Charleston, South Carolina. I'll actually be in Miami in a few weeks for the initial round of shooting.

Generally I look for cities that have four essential criteria. First, the city needs to have an architectural heritage dating back to the late 19th/early 20th centuries. Certainly many East Coast and Midwest cities qualify. But many Southern and West Coast cities do not. For example, I get asked all the time about doing a Los Angeles set. But in the early 1900s, save for a few Spanish missions, there really was no city of Los Angeles; it was mostly just orange groves. So, alas, L.A. doesn't fit the bill.

Second, there has to be a fair amount of high quality source images I can obtain, which I have already acquired for these cities through a variety of sources. Third, the city planners had to have made a significant effort to preserve the architectural heritage of their city, that I can blend with the new images I shoot. If New York or Boston or New Orleans or Chicago or any of the other cities I've done hadn't preserved their architectural history, my Time After Time treatment wouldn't work nearly as well. And lastly, in each city there needs to be a thriving art market and at least one of two major art shows where I can showcase my work to art aficionados and those who value the history of their hometown, whether it be original or adopted. The advance research I do, and the hunt for great source material I undertake, is extensive. But for a history nerd like me, it's part of the fun of what I do!

JB: Sounds wonderful. I'd love to see what you've done regarding Mount Vernon. I can't really imagine how that would work since the site is so different from the other works you've showcased in this interview.

MH: I'm incredibly honored to have been commissioned to create a Time After Time set for George Washington's Mount Vernon, as my connection to Mount Vernon goes back almost 50 years.

At age 16, when my family moved from Boston to Alexandria, Virginia in the summer of 1972, Mount Vernon was just a few miles away, and was the first Washington DC-area historic site we visited. I remember being awestruck. Anyone who has been to Mount Vernon knows the feeling. Sitting on the rear piazza and looking out over the Potomac River from the same vantage point as President Washington did over 250 years ago, a young history buff I just remember being overwhelmed by it all.

Fast forward to 2018. I was exhibiting my Washington DC Time After Time work at a prestigious art festival in Old Town Alexandria. A few days after the show I received a call from Rob Shenk, Mount Vernon's Senior Vice President for Visitor Engagement, inquiring if it would be possible to hire me to create a Mount Vernon Time After Time set using some of the oldest, most historically significant photographs in the Mount Vernon archives - some dating back to the very advent of photography in the 1850s. It was an easy answer: yes.

So I flew to Virginia, drove to Mount Vernon, and Rob met me at the entrance to the Mansion. I hadn't been back to Mount Vernon since my initial visit over 45 years earlier. If I had been awestruck then, I was completely overtaken with emotion now. As an adult, now with a much greater sense of the history of our country and the men who built it - Washington, chief among them - I was just moved to tears as we privately toured the grounds.

I spent the entire day shooting to create four images. Here are the source photographs and my Time After Time creations using parts of the old photos and parts of the new:

"A Mansion Saved"

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Joan Brunwasser is a co-founder of Citizens for Election Reform (CER) which since 2005 existed for the sole purpose of raising the public awareness of the critical need for election reform. Our goal: to restore fair, accurate, transparent, secure elections where votes are cast in private and counted in public. Because the problems with electronic (computerized) voting systems include a lack of (more...)

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