Half-week homework: The old and the new

A great deal of the meaning in our lives comes from time, and will continue to do so until someone cracks fourth-dimensional travel. As a finite resource, the time we have on earth gives urgency to our dreams and desires. As a provider of rhythm, it lets us create and/or analyze patterns in life, as we are wont to do. And as a dimension of unchangeable movement, it establishes the framework on which are built the stories that give people, events, places, and art meaning.

Paradoxically, although the most memorable stories come from growth and change that happens over time—from beginning to middle, from middle to end—it’s easy to miss as it’s happening. (Too many great artists could tell you, if they still lived, how long it took to be recognized.) It’s only the moments you stop to compare the way things are with they way things were that the way they’ve changed becomes clear.

So, this week, I challenge you to find some way to do just that. Tell a tale of the old and the new. Mellow it in melancholy, or relay radiant hope.

Get big, little kid!
  • Dig through family archives or even public domain photos of areas accessible to you. A pair of photos with decades between them can really drive home the extent of a shift.
  • Older cities are rife with opportunities to capture both old and new, sometimes in one shot.
  • Reflections and creative perspectives can be great methods of juxtaposition.
  • Elements of someone’s character can live on in other people, too. Multi-generational photos are a great way to tell the story of a family.

It’s not always gradual change, of course. Every life contains pivotal events, moments in time that divide a life into “before” and “after.” Just as importantly as ferreting out hidden stories, you can use your camera to document and dramatize those moments, giving the scenes the emotional gravity they deserve. A weighty tableau necessarily implies a world of old and the new world after.

Show us what time looks like in your world! Be sure to share your experiments with your fellow photographers. Post pics on our Facebook page or on Instagram, tagged #mymikescamera #halfweekhomework. And take time to appreciate the way life is, because it won’t be someday.

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