‘Time Travel’ art combines photos from Butte’s past and present

BUTTE — Every time you take a photograph you capture a bit of history, but a Butte photographer has found a unique way of capturing Butte’s history by taking photos she took today and combining them with photos from the past.

“Like, if you at a historic photo from 100 years ago and today, there have been so many people that have walked the same footsteps, that have been in the same doors, that have walked into the same businesses,” said Butte photographer Lisa Wareham.

Wareham retakes photos shot nearly 100 years ago and melds them together as one to give an interesting then-and-now perspective.

‘Time Travel’ art combines photos from Butte’s past and present

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“It’s really exciting to see kind of this melding of the two and all sorts of street scenes and to kind of see how much has changed, but also how little has changed,” said Butte Public Archives Director Aubrey Jaap.

To recreate an old photo, Wareham traces the historic photo on a transparent plate so she can line up the shot at the right angle so the new photograph will fit together with the old one. She then edits the two photographs together on her computer.

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“Sometimes it feels haunting; like, there’s one of Gertie the Baby Seller, Gertie Pitkanen, and it’s just like, she was this character who sold babies in the black market, and I was standing where she was, it’s kind of haunting,” said Wareham.

Many of the historic photos Wareham reproduced were those shot by C. Owen Smithers.

“He was kind of Butte’s premier photographer, and he went everywhere with his camera, so it truly is a glimpse into every sort of thing you can think of in Butte’s history, he was there,” said Jaap.

Wareham added, “And it’s really cool to think, who knows, maybe in a hundred years someone else will be standing there also taking a new photo of what both I and Smithers have done too.”