Europe Through My Grandfather’s Eyes

For all of you who don’t know about this already, I would like to share a little side project in life that I’ve been working on here and there over the last several years.  After my grandfather passed away in 2007 my family and I were going through his things and packing up his house when I came across a beaten up old wooden cigar box.  When I opened it up to my surprise and delight I found a bunch of old negatives.  I assumed they were probably just family photos until I began to unroll them.  I quickly realized I had come across all of the photographs he had taken while stationed in Europe during World War II.  For anyone this would be an awesome moment, but for someone like myself who was considering pursuing a degree in photography, it was the discovery of a lifetime.

Initially I didn’t do anything with them because I wasn’t sure how to go about working with them.  Seeing as they had been rolled up for over sixty years, they were very fragile and difficult to handle.  Each time I tried to unroll them they would immediately spring back into a coil.  I tried to flatten them for weeks on end in the heaviest books I could find, but still no luck. I knew I couldn’t just leave them though.  So my sophomore year of college I signed up for an independent study and dedicated my entire semester to printing the photographs.  Each day I looked forward to seeing what the negatives would reveal and  the chance to see World War II Europe through my grandpa’s eyes.  It was a truly amazing experience.

When I realized I would be spending my semester in Italy I decided that I really wanted to try and visit a lot of the places from his photographs and see if I could recreate them.  I had planned on putting a lot of effort into analyzing all of the photos and finding out exactly where each one was taken, but time got away from me and before I knew it the time had come to head to Europe.  Luckily I was able to get a couple of the negatives to lie flat and when I was printing the others, scanned a few of them into the computer using some technology my professor had.  Using the ones I had saved on my computer, and trying to remember other ones as well as I could, I tried to recreate a few of them in Paris and wanted to share them.  Hopefully there will be more to come.  Enjoy!


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