Because we tend to look at ourselves in the mirror each day, it can be difficult to discern significant changes in our outward appearances (except for the moments we look at the photos). Nonetheless, life’s triumphs and trials take their toll.
From laugh lines and a different body composition to wrinkles and expressions that have lost their innocence, there are many ways maturity reveals itself. An artist who knows this well is Josephine Sittenfeld.
In 2000, Sittenfeld took photographs of her college classmates. At the time, she was a junior at Princeton University. Images of her companions were captured on medium-format film — and they turned out great. But eventually, the photographs ended up in her parent’s closet, where they collected dust. Recently, that changed.
Earlier this spring, as Sittenfeld’s 15-year college reunion was approaching, she remembered the photos. This inspired her to re-create the series, entitled “Reunion.” The series of before-and-after shots reveal a lot about the subjects featured in them.
Anna, for instance, has the look of an average — albeit rebellious — college student, as she glances nonchalantly at the camera. Her frizzy hair splaying in all directions differs from the curly updo she donned for the most recent photoshoot. In the first photo, youthfulness, a touch of fear about the future, and a general lack of caring are evident. In the second, Anna appears older, wiser, and much more in touch with her body.
Another photograph which features Becky is like “night and day.” In 2000, the student looked quite ordinary. But in 2017, she appears to live in a comfortable neighborhood, is standing in front of a shiny car, and has a smile plastered across her face. The look of comfort, security, and happiness that exudes from her in the second picture contrasts greatly from the first image.
“At twenty, I felt something intangible, indescribable, full of energy,” Sittenfeld’s former roommate said. “Only now am I able to describe it—the ultimate sensing of a life ahead.”
Scrolling through the “Reunion” series is like stepping into the past— even if just for a moment. To this author, the compilation inspires humility and, most importantly, a recognition that change is the only constant in the universe — and that it is something to be both admired and feared.
Following are 10+ “before and after” photos of people 17 years apart:
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