A young man poses shirtless, jeans hung low around the waist. His hands, which are placed delicately atop his head, accentuate his ribs and the curve of his back as he stars deep into the lens.
Next to this portrait is another photo of an older man striking exactly the same pose. He wears a more serious expression and his body appears more muscular, with a tattoo stretching the length of his torso.
The man in both images is model Jacob Buchholz. He was 23 when the first photograph was taken, in 2004, while the second was captured 17 years later, around the time he turned 40.
The diptych is a part of Doug English’s new photography series “Then & Now,” in which he asked models to recreate portraits he had taken of them in the early 2000s. The resulting images juxtapose subjects’ past and present selves, leaving viewers to reflect on the passage of time.
English reconnected with former subjects, like model Jacob Buchholz (pictured) to recreate portraits. Credit: Doug English
“As I age, there is this longing for the past,” English said in a phone interview. “There’s a longing to recreate (the past) or just to be back where you were. But the truth is, when I think about it, I’m a much happier person today than I was back then.”
The original images, which are drawn from the American photographer’s vast archive, show then-young male models hoping to break into the fashion and entertainment industries. They were taken during test shoots to “help build a model’s portfolio,” he explained. “Modeling bookers would send guys to my house for a casting, and if I liked them and their look then I would photograph them.”
Inglish said he gravitates towards portraiture, as it allows him to develop a connection with the person he is shooting. And while he is better known for magazine shoots with stars like David Beckham and Mila Kunis, “Then & Now” is a more personal body of work.
The project first came about when English reconnected with Buchholz on Facebook and asked if he would be interested in modeling for him again.
“It was like we just picked up right where we left off,” he said of the shoot, which took place at his Los Angeles home last year.
English styles and poses the model in a similar manner to replicate their previous portrait. Credit: Doug English
He then began contacting other past models in hopes of expanding the project further. He said that almost everyone he approached has agreed to recreate their shoots.
Many of English’s subjects had come to Los Angeles to try to make it big as models and actors. Some of them, including “Andi Mack” star Trent Garrett and Australian actor Luke Cook, have since found success. “It’s really exciting to see their progress,” Inglish said, “because it is so rare, you know?”
Models in the original shoots wore vintage 80s attire, including tights, speedos and military surplus collected hoodies that English through the years. Credit: Doug English
In July, a selection of images from “Then & Now” was exhibited at Cubo, a gallery in Mexico City’s historic center. According to the show’s curator, Georgianna Chiang, the images invited viewers to consider each model’s maturity and growth.
“It really becomes about this role that the photographer has — to watch and be a container for the passage of time,” she said.
English hopes to continue working on the series, with a view to publish the images as a book.
“It’s been super gratifying,” Inglish said of sharing his lesser-seen work. “It wasn’t something that I was ready to show until now. It’s sort of cathartic. It’s good for me to see them out in the world and have people respond, and be excited and relate.”