Sunday, October 27, 2013

"The Camera as a Window into The Past" by Claire Morgan

The Camera as a Window into The Past
Looking at a photo that blends a modern scene with a picture taken from exactly the same spot many decades ago is a strange experience. When we see these two scenes entangled with one another, we experience first hand two of the most powerful effects of photography: its ability to trigger our own memories and its capacity to record history. We feel as if we are looking back through a window into the past, but we are still tied to the modern world in such a way that history begins to feels alive and very personal. These images prove to us how much photography matters.
Why Taking Photographs Matters
The way in which we see the past and remember our own lives is shaped by photography. Photos matter because they allow us to see important historic moments for ourselves, in a manner that cannot be matched by any historical document or portrait, but they are also important because they provide a means to record and share our own memories. Many of us take our own photos on vacation, to mark special occasions, or simply to capture moments in our everyday lives, but we may not stop to think about why these photos matter so much or why it is so important to use and look after our photographic equipment and preserve our pictures for future generations. The photos we take now will shape the stories and memories we share in the future, as well as providing people in the distant future with the chance to look back through a photographic window into our times.
Photography and Memory
Although photographs are an important part of our understanding of history, their significance does not end with great events and famous figures. Photography can preserve our own family histories and memories, enabling us to recall and share the most important stories of our lives. The photographs we take in our own lives can shape the way we remember events. Many of the memories we have from childhood are influenced by the photographs we have kept, and the stories that people have told around those images. When we recall the past or ask our parents and grandparents about their lives, it is often over an album of photos. The effect can be so strong that it is even possible to make people believe in false memories by showing them faked photographs of a supposed childhood trip in a hot air balloon.
Photography and the Past
Photographs can also provide us with a window on worlds that we cannot experience for ourselves, including those that have disappeared into the past. Photos have become such an important part of the historic record that they make the time before cameras were invented feel far more distant and mysterious to us than the years that we can look back at in photographs. The difference is clear when we see some of the earliest photos of US Presidents and compare the experience to viewing the portraits that are the only surviving images of others. Seeing the real faces of our ancestors, or of important historic figures, can be far more powerful that any portrait or written description. We feel that we are stepping back into the shoes of the photographer who recorded the scene, and seeing the world through their eyes.
Photographs of Then and Now
Photographs have power over our memories and our perceptions of the past, but it is when these two aspects of photography collide that something truly special is created. The effect of images that combine pictures of the same scene then and now stems from the combination of the chance to look back into the past with the emotional resonance of modern photographs that can evoke our own personal memories. When we come across historical photographs in textbooks or museums, their power can be limited by the fact that we view them in a somewhat dry and distanced way. Combining these photographs with modern images taken in the exact same spot awakens the more personal and emotional part of our reaction to photography, by bringing these scenes of the past into direct contact with our modern lives. The effect is strongest when we know the location ourselves, since our own memories of the location will be awakened by the modern picture, heightening our reaction to the historic scene, but even in an unfamiliar place, the effect is striking. Seeing the old and new coexisting alongside one another brings the past alive and enables us to appreciate just how close we are to the black and white faces that we see in the photographs. To see them walking the streets alongside the familiar bustle of modern life is to see them as real people.

By: Claire Morgan

Friday, October 25, 2013

Then & Now: Milwaukee - Solomon Juneau Monument

Then & Now: Milwaukee - Solomon Juneau Monument 

Years: 1940 / 2013

Monument (erected 1887) dedicated to Solomon Juneau at Juneau Park. A an sits on the bench with Lake Michigan behind. 

Brief History:

Solomon Juneau...

Fur Trader. 

Land Speculator. 


"The Founder of Milwaukee"...   

His cousin - Joseph Juneau - also founded the city of Juneau, Alaska!

To read more about this fantastic man - check out this link or one many other articles you can find on google..

Then & Now: Milwaukee - Civil War Monument

Then & Now: Milwaukee - Civil War Monument 

Years: 1920's / 2013 
The Court of Honor, Wisconsin Avenue. The statue, "The Victorious Charge," is in the center, with new traffic on the right. On the left are more buildings going into the distance, with cars and park area. On the statue is inscribed "To Those Who Fought In The War For The Union 1861-1865. Erected 1898."

 Original Photograph by: Murdoch Photographers

Then & Now: Milwaukee - "Muddy Street"

 Then & Now: Milwaukee - "Muddy Street"
Years: 1901/2013

A man tips his hat to a passing woman as horse-drawn carts and pedestrians navigate through the dirt and mud of Milwaukee streets, thereby illustrating that the problem of impassable streets had not been solved, even in Wisconsin's largest city, at the turn of the 20th century.

SE corner of E. Wisconsin Ave. at N. Milwaukee St. facing west. The Wells Building is on the right, 1 block west at SW corner of Wisconsin Ave. and N. Broadway on the left is the Railway Exchange Buildingg, the Pabst Building (NE corner of N. Water St. and E. Wisconsin Ave.) is the tower in the distance on the right (no longer there). In the distant center of the photo is the former Gimbels Department Store block on the east side of the Milwaukee River. (Using post-1930 street names.)

Original Photograph by: Robert J Taylor

Then & Now: Milwaukee - Michigan Street Bridge

Then & Now: Milwaukee - Michigan Street Bridge

Seen in the foreground you can see several men at work, constructing the Michigan Street Bridge that crosses the Milwaukee River from the east bank to the west bank.  In the background you can see a number of bypass walkways and bridges that have since been constructed.  

Years: 1905 / 2013

Original Photographer: Robert J. Taylor 

Then & Now: Milwaukee - Wisconsin Avenue Bridge

Then & Now: Milwaukee - Wisconsin Avenue Bridge
Years: 1928/2013
An open drawbridge with a boat crossing below. The First National Bank is in the background.  

Original Photograph by: Murdoch Photographers

Then & Now: Downtown Milwaukee

Downtown Milwaukee - Then & Now

Years: 1915/2013
Looking south on the Milwaukee River from Wells Street. 
Landmarks left to right: Manufacturers Home Building, First National Bank, and the Pabst Building. Caption on glass plate reads, "View S. from Oneida St. Bridge".

Original Photograph by: Joseph Brown