Mount Vernon: Then & Now
Shop all of Mark Hersch's Mount Vernon photos that meld historic and modern images.
Mount Vernon is privately owned and will remain open in the case of a government shutdown.
Photographer Mark Hersch melds modern and historic imagery to create one image. George Washington's Mount Vernon caught up with Mark to learn more about his work.
Rephotography is the process of photographing a subject in two different moments in time. This is typically seen when the two photos are displayed side-by-side, usually to show a scene before and after an event. For example, satellite images of a city before and after a big flood. I take rephotography a step further; I merge rare, archival photographs - most over 100 years old - with contemporary photographs I shoot from the same vantage point in the present day, to create a single image that reveals parts of the old world and parts of the new. I call this collection “Time After Time”.
Three of my lifelong passions are photography, history, and architecture. I've been fortunate to travel all over the world and have always been drawn to photographing the historic architectural landmarks of the cities I visit. Nowadays, historic preservation is a driving force in city planning, maintaining the best of the old while forging ahead with the new. I hope my work captures the transformation of the places I photograph, revealing how much they have changed but also, in many ways, how they have stayed the same.
My most popular Time After Time images are, not unexpectedly, those of each city’s most iconic structures and places: State Street in Chicago, Quincy Market in Boston, Times Square in New York, etc. All of these can be seen on my website, www.markhersch.com.
The best subjects for my work start with images that contain easily-identifiable period references, such as old cars, trains, people in their vintage dress, etc. When these are blended with my images containing the same elements in the present day, it creates quite a striking juxtaposition of old and new.
When my family moved from Boston to Alexandria many years ago, Mount Vernon was the very first historic site we toured in the Washington DC area. I remember being awestruck even as a young boy. When I returned to create these images, and with the benefit now of a greater appreciation for American history, I was overcome with emotion. Seeing the mansion again for the first time in over 40 years, looking out over the Potomac from the piazza, walking the gardens and viewing President Washington’s Tomb brought tears to my eyes. Spending a day at Mount Vernon is a singular experience; it was an honor and a privilege to create these images for Mount Vernon and its visitors.
The original source photographs for these images date back as far as 1859, to the very advent of photography. These are the oldest photos I have ever worked with for a Time After Time image. It is simply wondrous to view these pictures and realize you are looking at an image that is actually two photographs taken nearly 160 years apart combined into one.