Christian Carollo re-creates grandfather's travel photos 30 years later

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/ Source: TODAY
By Jordi Lippe-McGraw

Christian Carollo was never a stranger to traveling and documenting his trips, but when he stumbled across his grandfather's vintage travel photos, he started to see the world through a whole new perspective.

In October of 2012, the Philadelphia-based photographer found a box of slides that contained pictures from his grandfather's trip to the Oregon coast, where he was intending to travel a week later. "I wondered, what if I could replicate my grandfather’s photograph 30 years later?" Carollo told TODAY.com. "I did just that and my new mission was born."

The Past Present Project began as a way to showcase the vintage photography from around the United States and quickly grew into the ultimate memorial to the man who inspired his love of photography and travel. The 33-year-old now travels the country taking the same pictures his grandparents took in the 1970s and '80s and placing them in the same frame to grasp how much or how little a location has changed.

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"Sometimes it can be very simple, other times a little more investigative work is required," Carollo said of finding the exact spots. Luckily, his grandmother kept detailed travel journals that aid his quest. "Usually I'm able to figure out the exact location through reading the journals, but if not, then I start to examine the photographs for little clues," he said. "Small details in the photos, such as a street sign or business name, have been huge factors in locating the exact spots where my grandparents were."

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Though he has completed about 75 photos so far, there are still more than 250 more to go with a focus mainly on the United States. There are still boxes of international photos left to dig through, perhaps making the search a bit more challenging and exciting at the same time.

More than the elaborate scavenger hunt that has taken him everywhere from the California coast to New Orleans, Carollo says he has learned a lot about his grandparents and himself. "I've realized that interaction with people on the road was very important to them," he said, noting that he applies this theme to his own travels, making sure to stop for a conversation. "I've actually met some amazing people all around the country, some that I now call friends, through my own travels and because of this project."

Unfortunately, Carollo's grandfather passed away in 2008 before the project got started, but his 101 year-old grandmother wrote him a letter that further fueled this sentimental project. "If he knew now that his interest and love for travel and photography had just jumped one generation and you would inherit the 'wanderlust,' he would be SO happy," she said in the note.

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Ultimately the travel junkie hopes that people will learn the importance of treasuring family moments and memories through his project. "It has given me great joy because I've already seen this happening through the comments on articles and emails I've received," Carollo said.

"My grandfather always thought that the time he poured into his photographs had gone to waste, but through this project his family has a renewed interest, as well as the rest of the world."