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Sometimes, old photos are like time machines – they float you into another era, and you can drift there for as long as you are looking at the photo.

In the mid-1960s, when I was in college, I came across an issue of NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC from the 1890s. In it were photos of Japan taken by Western photographers 100 years earlier, in the 1860s. There were photographs of geisha sitting in a traditional Japanese tatami room, and I looked at the furniture and ash trays and other accessories, wondering what prices they might fetch as antiques today. I was so drawn into the photo that I felt as if I were actually entering the room, as if I had been allowed to inhabit Edo-period Japan for a few moments. Reflecting on the experience, I found myself hoping that one day other people would enjoy my photographs in the same way.

I have heard the axiom that one can move forward into the future but not back into the past. Image-making subverts this paradigm, allowing viewers of any image to travel into the time in which it was made. Today, digital technology allows us to record enormous numbers of images of our daily lives. It would be lovely if, in the distant future, all of these images could be mapped into a format that would allow people to virtually explore worlds past. Hopefully the world will not have crumbled away by then…

In any event, I hope that these photos please you, and that you enjoy your time travel into the world of my past.

Mike Nogami