UT’s Past Meets Its Present in “Dear Photograph” Project

 

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Photos are cheap these days. Our iPhones and digital cameras allow us to snap hundreds of shots—not just a precious few, as in the days of film. We Photoshop away blemishes and red-eye, then post albums that live only online. The darkroom ritual of precisely calibrated chemical baths is fading away.

But photo prints are more powerful than ever. Case in point: the wildly popular Dear Photograph blog, founded by 22-year-old Taylor Jones last May. The blog invites anyone to “take a picture of a picture from the past in the present.” The results are powerfully nostalgic, from childhood homes to memories of long-lost relatives.

Undertaking such a project at UT was a perfect task for The Alcalde. As an alumni magazine, our job is to infuse campus news with a rich sense of the University’s 130-year history. Visually, that’s exactly what these photos do—showing us how much campus fashions have changed, or how little the Tower has.

Student photographer Zen Ren says taking the photos made her contemplate UT history.

“I could see how small details over UT had changed over the years, but students from generations ago still walk the same paths I do now,” Ren says. “As a photographer I document what is in front of me in real time, so seeing the older photos through my lens felt like peeking through a time machine.”

Photos by Zen Ren

 

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