Every photograph stops time. This is the most banal, technical fact about the medium and also the source of its uncanny and remarkably durable power. The relentless momentum of mundane existence is stilled by the shutter, and some of the mysteries implicit in everyday life open up. A moment — of high artifice or raw candor, of posed elegance or composed chaos — is captured and then, later, delivered to our contemplative gaze.
We, the beholders, are always late to the scene, which makes looking at a photograph a species of time travel. We look back, aware, at least unconsciously, that the world has moved on. After a while, so do we, turning the page and returning the image to its natural state as a permanent piece of ephemera. But sometimes we wonder: What happened next?
Thousands of photographs have appeared in the magazine. More than 250 of them — revealing portraits of the famous; documents of atrocity and heroism; sensitive studies of everyday life; unclassifiable works of art — have been collected into a book, “The New York Times Magazine Photographs,” edited by the magazine’s director of photography, Kathy Ryan, to be published in October by Aperture. The original images in this portfolio appear in that volume and make their second appearances in the magazine. Each is accompanied by a new picture of the same subject, in most cases taken by the original photographer.
The updates go some way toward answering the question that trails people who have endured a brief spell of media attention: Where are they now? We discovered them on the brink, in the midst or in the wake of important events. Here was a young model stepping out into a promising career. Here was a mother learning to care for her newborn daughter. Here was a firefighter struggling in the aftermath of a trauma both public and personal.
And now? People have aged, grown up, survived, changed. Nothing is the same. Everything the camera sees is as strange, as distressing and as beautiful as it ever was.