Creative Pictures Capture Time Passing

by Meredith Mullins on January 9, 2014

Korean teacher reflected in mirror as younger self, one of a series of creative pictures by Tom Hussey on aging. (Photo © Tom Hussey)

A teacher sees her younger self, one of a series of creative pictures by Tom Hussey.
© Tom Hussey, TOM HUSSEY Photography LLC. All rights reserved.

Tom Hussey’s Reflections on Aging

We are nine days old in the new year—a calendar transition accompanied by nostalgia for the past and hope for the future, as well as inspiration for resolution and reflection.

Today, in the spirit of reflection, OIC asks, “What happens when you look in a mirror?”

  • Is a mirror just a practical way to help you wash your face or fix your hair?
  • Is it an opportunity to give yourself a good talking to (Robert de Niro in Taxi Driver) or whisper a needed motivational message?
  • Or is it an invitation to spend a moment thinking about something important—losing yourself between reflection and reality?
Elegant older woman sees a younger self reflected in mirror, one of a series of creative pictures by Tom Hussey on aging. (Photo © Tom Hussey)

A moment of nostalgia or a flight of imagination?
© Tom Hussey, TOM HUSSEY Photography LLC. All rights reserved.

What do you see as you stare into the glass?

The past. The present. The future.

Confidence. Heartache. Imperfection. Ego. Soul.

For Dallas photographer Tom Hussey, the mirror became a powerful tool for traveling across decades, delivering a message about the inevitable passing of time through a series of creative pictures.

A Story about Time

The Reflections series was born in a conversation Tom had with a WWII veteran named Gardner. The 80-year-old Gardner explained that he didn’t feel 80 at all. He still felt like a young man.

He, like many of us, did not understand how time had passed so quickly. His mind and body, perception and reality, were at odds. The aging process was a mystery.

older man with suspenders looks at his younger self in the mirror, one of a series of creative pictures by Tom Hussey on aging. (Photo © Tom Hussey)

Gardner, a WWII veteran, feels younger than his 80 years.
© Tom Hussey, TOM HUSSEY Photography LLC. All rights reserved.

Tom translated this conversation into a photograph that tells a compelling story, one that so many of us can relate to. Time stops for no one.

The veteran sees himself in the mirror as a younger man, a poignant look at his own history . . . and life. We see past and present at the same moment.

A Deeper Meaning

Tom continued the series when he was awarded a job for an Alzheimer’s drug manufactured by Novartis. The subjects in this series see themselves in the mirror as younger—a look into the past.

Older man sees a fireman reflected in mirror, one of a series of creative pictures by Tom Hussey on aging. (Photo © Tom Hussey)

Looking into the distant past
© Tom Hussey, TOM HUSSEY Photography LLC. All rights reserved.

What makes these photographs particularly poignant within the Alzherimer’s context is that, often, these patients remember things only from their distant past. Short-term memory fades. They could, in fact, be seeing a very different person in the mirror.

Tom recognizes the importance of the series. “I was fortunate to realize as we were making these images how honored I was to be creating this body of work. I felt at the time it would be a truly important and meaningful campaign to many people and a huge milestone in my career.”

A Meticulous Creative Process

Tom and his team were careful in the selection of the subjects and in placing them in life context, usually by focusing on their professions.

Older man with coffee sees his younger self as a scientist reflected in mirror, one of a series of creative pictures by Tom Hussey on aging. (Photo © Tom Hussey)

A retired scientist spends a moment with his younger self as a lab technician.
© Tom Hussey, TOM HUSSEY Photography, LLC. All rights reserved.

“We worked through the casting and location aspects of the series, determining what profession a patient had been in their youth so we could portray that in the reflected image,” Tom explains. “The profession drove what room setting and props were needed to complete the image.”

In many of the images, the details of the room add significant clues to the story. In some, Tom has included old photos of the subject as part of the decor.

The artistic choice of selective color and a muted palette also adds to the elusive nature of time. Is the image set in the past or present, or in some imaginary world in between?

A Powerful Response

Everyone will have his or her own personal response and “Oh, I see” moment when studying these photographs. The images confront us with a chronicle of time that will have different meanings for different people.

A seamstress sees her younger self reflected in mirror, one of a series of creative pictures by Tom Hussey on aging. (Photo © Tom Hussey)

What do these photos make you feel?
© Tom Hussey, TOM HUSSEY Photography LLC. All rights reserved.

What is your response to these creative pictures?

For the photographer, the experience of creating these images offered a way to reflect on the process of aging.

Tom’s advice: “Embrace the passing of time. Enjoy all the eras and try to experience them completely.”

OIC adds an additional life lesson from Gabriel García Márquez:

“It is not true that people stop pursuing dreams because they grow old, they grow old because they stop pursuing dreams.”

More projects that explore time passing: See amazing photographs that recapture people, poses, and settings from old photos in present day time VIA  Barnorama and Pinterest. Get a fascinating glimpse at aging and cultural mores with the photographic project by Zed Nelson that recorded a family of three over two decades. And visit our post on Jason Powell’s photographs that merge past with present—the ultimate in time travel.

Márquez quote from GoodReads.

Comment on this post below, or inspire insight with your own OIC Moment here.

 
Comments:

One thought on “Creative Pictures Capture Time Passing

  1. Beautiful work Mr. Hussey in expressing how, I believe, we all feel as we age. My mother is 90 years ‘ young’ and frequently expresses the thought, ‘ how did I get here?’ All of life’s experiences fill our minds and explains, to me anyway, the confusion of dementia in people of all ages. Thank you for a beautiful presentation of our personal realities.

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