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I’ve noticed that on social media sites, people “share a memory”–re-post something from their site in the past–though, of course, the past is only as old as the social media site.

 

Near the Buck, Lancaster County, July 1983

Over the past few days, I’ve been scanning negatives I made during my first months working with a view camera, in 1983–now 35 years ago.  I don’t know when an image becomes a historical image–maybe the best rule is after the photographer and his generation are dead–when no one remembers what the time of the photograph actually looked like.  So by that definition, Walker Evans photographs are on the verge of becoming historical photographs–but my images from 1983 are not.  I still remember making the photographs–but perhaps even more important, they still look like I think the world looks now.  If I were to drive through the landscape in Lancaster County in 2018, the landscape would still pretty much look like these photographs, I could still find views that look like these.

Southern Lancaster County, July , 1983

 

Of course, there there have been changes–some farms have gotten bigger–embracing the industrialization of agriculture–but in Lancaster County, some farms have also gotten smaller–split into two or more farms, by the new Amish owners.  In 1983, there were no Amish in Martic Township–now there are several–and I suspect that there will be more in the future.

Amish Farm, near Quarryville, PA, July 1983

 

I moved away from Lancaster County in 1980,  thinking that the landscape in Lancaster county was being destroyed by development–farms that had been in my family for generations were being converted into housing developments–and the economics of farming were disastrous.  I think when I made these photographs, I thought this landscape would disappear within my lifetime.

The fact that this landscape remains as intact as it does is a bit of a surprise to me.  Maybe this says more about the slow pace of changes in the landscape–maybe in a few more decades, these pictures will look “historic”.

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