Hundred-year Time Machine

I’ve been waiting twenty years for July 25, 2016. Really I have. And when that day comes, I know at least one thing I’ll be doing: I’ll be taking a photo. Not just any photo — I’m going to recreate a photo of my great-grandfather Fred Donner. And to do it, I’m going to need at least 45 cantaloupes, a pair of overalls, and a good hat.

Years ago, while looking through old family photos at my folks’ house, I came across a picture of my great-grandfather Fred on his farm, packing cantaloupes with a farmhand. Fred was a melon farmer, working up and down California’s Central Valley. That’s him holding the melon.

Fred Donner, on left, packing cantaloupes in Irwin, CA July 25, 1916.

From the moment I saw it, I’ve loved this shot. I love being able to share a moment of my great-grandfather’s work day. I love the hats they’re wearing. I especially love seeing my ancestor in his work clothes, doing what he loved.

I also love knowing exactly what day this picture was taken, because we all have old family photos, and usually we have to guess. This one has everything you need to know, painted right on the image by the photographer:  Irwin, CAL July 25 1916 Packing cantaloupes.

All of this inspired me to recreate the image 100 years later — to the day. It will be me, my Dad, and my nephew. It’s going to be a hoot, though sadly I’ll be the only one wearing overalls. My Dad hates them.

I’m counting down the days.

Marcus Donner, Pixel Professor / Product Manager 

Who knew?

  1. I’ve flown the Goodyear Blimp. Yes, really: I sat in the pilot’s seat and flew the Goodyear blimp.
  2. I fulfilled a childhood dream of working at the Olympics. At the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics I was a venue photo manager and was 20 feet away as Wayne Gretzky lit the Olympic cauldron.
  3. My great-grandfather Fred Donner developed one of the first watermelons to fit in an icebox.

I like to shoot: I’m a photojournalist by trade, so first and foremost I love taking photos of people. Right now, I’m really into mirrorless cameras, but at one time or another I’ve shot with almost every brand of camera out there.

My Mylio setup: Eight devices managing 300,000 images.


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Marcus Donner
Award-winning photographer Marcus Donner has been telling stories in pictures for 28 years, shooting everything from fireworks to fire breathers. Marcus has taught photography from Seattle to Rome.

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One Comment

  1. Anna and Harold Donner

    What a wonderful creative picture idea. Love all and any information about Grandpa Donner and feel so special that I was able to meet him, talk with him, see him with our children and sitting in our garden and sleeping in our home. When he would fly here to visit he would bring me tomato;s in his suitcase from his garden. Would like to see some day some sort of “”honoring” of him and Grandma and their contributions.

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