LOC Lipstick Photo

The Library of Congress on Flickr is, to me, without exaggeration, one of the awesomest things on the internet and in the world: scanned prints of historic public domain photos, uploaded for the community to openly view, tag, and comment.

This particular photo from 1943 especially caught my eye; a woman applying lipstick by a planter near the Senate Garage Fountain, with Union Station in the background. That’s just a few blocks from where we now live, so Amy and I couldn’t resist walking over and trying to duplicate the shot in the present day: (click the photo thumbs to see them larger on their Flickr pages.)

Woman putting on her lipstick in a park with Union Station behind her, Washington, D.C. (LOC) IMG_1940.JPG

This was in February, so Amy is wearing somewhat heavier clothing than the Lipstick Lady (and no hat), and I was a bit off on angle and zoom, but it’s all close enough. The park between here and Union Station has since gained many more trees, and the grounds appear to have been repaved with a new pattern since the 1940s, but other than that, the area looks essentially the same — note the lamp post.

Any other DC scenes from LOC that you want to see as they are in the modern day?

(Oh, and as for the Philippines, so far they’ve posted these carabaos in Albay.)

Update: I sent this entry over to LOC’s Matt Raymond and he liked it so much he linked to it from the LOC weblog. The photos later also got a brief mention in USA Today.


  1. Matt says:

    That’s really well done. I think you should recreate the A soldier and a woman in a park one next.

  2. Richard Hess says:


    First of all I think this is a real fun and worthy project. Sometime in my dotage, I would love to replicate the photos that my great-grandmother included (mostly from postcards) in a 1930s? road-trip diary from NY to California.

    Some minor nits in an otherwise wonderful concept:

    (a) The original LOC scan is way over-sharpened in the blown-up version

    (b) Try and match camera height better. The older image was made with the photographer on one knee, I suspect, the new one was made with the photographer standing, I suspect.

    (c) Try to match angle-of-view/relative focal length better. The new image appears to be made with a longer (relative to negative/sensor size) focal length lens, with greater magnification. It changes the feel of the image.

    BUT, this is great and my comments are meant only for the purpose of possibly improving this ongoing exploration.