Looking into the Past

I love history. I really believe learning about our past helps us understand our present and make better choices for our future. The same mistakes tend to be made over and over. This isn’t just relegated to the world’s history, but sometimes, even our own.

One way to explore history and how our society, and we as people, have changed is through photography. This provides us with a visual analysis of the way things used to be. Images can be very powerful and often great photographs can convey a plethora of emotions and feelings that perhaps even words could not elicit. I’ve chronicled some of my recent explorations of the local landscape in Virginia on my blog and shared some photographs I have taken.

Someone else who loves history is Jason E. Powell, a “cameraist,” as described by his niece. Jason has a very unique way of looking at history. He takes old photographs of locations and then pairs it with a recent photograph. The dichotomy the two images provide, sometimes in stunning contrast, are both breathtaking and moving. It shows how far we have come, and sometimes, how far we have regressed, with respect to the destruction of our cities and architecture. Jason calls this collection “Looking into the Past.” He also takes photographs that capture people, places, and items of interest in his travels.

Jason’s work has been featured on CNN, the Washington Post, Wired, and DCist. I stumbled across some of Jason’s work a few years ago but really picked up interest in it when I saw a feature on Business Insider’s website featuring shots from “Looking into the Past” that were around my region of Northern Virginia. I will post a few of those photographs here to whet your appetite and give you an idea of what Jason is about.

These are a couple of photographs taken in Fredericksburg, Virginia:

The intersection of William and Caroline Streets. "Fredericksburg, VA is pretty awesome. They've kept their downtown largely intact, aside from some pesky street name changes (this intersection was formerly Commerce and Main)." - Jason E. Powell

The intersection of William and Caroline Streets.
“Fredericksburg, VA is pretty awesome. They’ve kept their downtown largely intact, aside from some pesky street name changes (this intersection was formerly Commerce and Main).” – Jason E. Powell

The dedication of the Kenmore Plantation "Those are some stylish women. This must have been a heckuva party! This photo was taken at the Kenmore Plantation home, which was built by George Washington's sister."

The dedication of the Kenmore Plantation.
“Those are some stylish women. This must have been a heckuva party! This photo was taken at the Kenmore Plantation home, which was built by George Washington’s sister.” – Jason E. Powell

If you want to check out more photographs from the Washington D.C. and Northern Virginia area that Jason captured, please check out the Business Insider website.

Jason has done a lot more exploring than I have. He and his camera have been all over the world capturing images that will make you smile, think, and wonder. Be sure to check out all his work on his Flickr page. and connect with him on his Facebook page. And, don’t forget to visit his website.

All images copyright of Jason E. Powell and used with permission.

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2 thoughts on “Looking into the Past

  1. I love history too. There is always a feeling I get when I visit a historical place…almost like the air around it holds memories of what has already past and is always trying to share what it has seen. I feel it, but I can never quite recreate it for myself. These photos color and fill in the gaps imagination sometimes leaves empty. Thanks for sharing! This is awesome!

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    • Thank you so much! I am glad you enjoyed the piece and Jason’s photographs! It is certainly a very unique idea.

      I get the same feeling you described. Especially in areas where there has been considerable loss and emotion spent. I had strong feelings like that particularly when I visited the Idlewild Plantation home.

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