The good people of Oxford, Iowa, must have thought Peter Feldstein had lost his marbles..
After all, why would a grown man set up shop in an abandoned storefront in the hamlet of fewer than 700 people and then invite townsfolk to drop in to have their picture taken?
Despite their skepticism, hundreds responded to Feldstein’s invitation, which came in the form of flyers, tacked onto utility poles and passed hand-to-hand throughout the northeast Iowa community.
That was in 1984. Twenty years later, Feldstein did it again. Teaming up with University of Iowa writing instructor and author Stephen G. Bloom, the duo produced a striking exhibit: Feldstein’s before-and-after images flanking Bloom’s brief narrative about each subject.
“The portraits reveal the inevitable transformations of aging: wider waistlines, laugh lines, wrinkled skin, eyeglasses, bowed backs. Babies and children have sprouted into young nurses, truck drivers, teachers, rodeo riders, ardent Buddhists, racists, Democrats, strippers, and drug addicts. Time also rewards. Gawky teenagers blossom into assured men and women—the promise of the future realized.”
You can do much the same with you own family photographs by comparing one photo with another taken decades apart. Consider that person’s experiences in the intervening years and how those experiences are reflected in their appearance.
Photo courtesy of “The Oxford Project” published by Welcome Books. Photographs © 2008 Peter Feldstein. Text © 2008 Stephen G. Bloom. Preface © 2008 Gerald Stern. www.welcomebooks.com/theoxfordproject