Photographer Josephine Sittenfeld has worked on a variety of themes ranging from scenes at a summer camp to moments of tranquility in war-torn Syria. Her pictures have been featured in such prominent publications as The New York Times, People, and Newsweek. For her latest project, entitled “reunion,” which marks the 15th anniversary of her graduation from Princeton, Sittenfeld recently took pictures of several classmates so that she could provide a side-by-side comparison with portraits she had taken of them back in 2000 when they were college juniors. Here’s to aging gracefully!
The story starts in 2000 when Sittenfeld, a junior at Princeton University majoring in photography, decided to snap portraits of several classmates using medium-format film, which she then displayed as part of a photo exhibition.
She eschewed conventional pictures of smiling students in favor of expressions of nonchalance and in some cases a certain melancholy moodiness. Ultimately, the pictures capture mundane moments of college life; students dressed in flannel shirts or flip-flops, and even an empty Doritos bag on the steps outside of a campus building.
Fast-forward to 2017 and Sittenfeld came upon a brilliant idea: to ask many of her classmates, now celebrating their 15th year graduation reunion, to recreate those portraits, in many cases at the exact same location at Princeton. However, the purpose was not simply to show how one ages physically through the passage of time, but how adulthood changes a person emotionally. The uncertainty about the students’ path of life gives way to life experiences that can now be revealed. We see changes in their style of clothing, the frowns have been replaced with relaxed smiles, and in one photo we see one of the subjects is now a father. They are free to look back with fond nostalgia while feeling satisfied about their paths in life.