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Getting Older

This photographer captured the same couples over a 30-year period

A lot changes in 30 years.

couple over the years - 1 Sonnhild and Matthias in 1988 and again in 2014. Barbara Davatz Barbara Davatz

IN 1982, PHOTOGRAPHER Barbara Davatz found 12 young, interesting, urban couples and decided to take their portraits. Little did she know, her little side project would continue for up to 30 years.

“I started [the portraits] in 1982 with initially no intention of continuing the series,” Davatz told Business Insider. She went on to photograph the same people in 1988, 1997, and again in 2014. The project now covers three generations of people.

Her new book, As Time Goes By, shows the remarkable changes that her subjects have gone through over the last 30 years.

Despite being a professional photographer for 40 years, Davatz still found time to work on personal projects like this one.

couple over the years - 2 Franz and Matthias in 1982. Barbara Davatz Barbara Davatz

“I believed very strongly in the project, [I] loved it — considered it my ‘life work’ and my most important work,” Davatz told Business Insider.

couple over the years - 3 Franz and Rafael in 1988. Barbara Davatz Barbara Davatz

A lot changed over the years with Davatz’s subjects — not just their looks. Sometimes there was a change of partners, or the subjects became parents and even grandparents.

couple over the years - 4 Sonnhild and Matthias in 1988. Barbara Davatz Barbara Davatz

Davatz’s subjects were really eager to work with her. Some of the women from her 1982 portraits encouraged her to continue the project over the years, saying they considered it a telling of their life story.

couple over the years - 5 Sonnhild and Matthias in 1997. Barbara Davatz Barbara Davatz

Staying in touch with her subjects has been pretty easy, Davatz explains, because several of them were friends of hers.

couple over the years - 6 Sonnhild and Matthias in 2014. Barbara Davatz Barbara Davatz

“In 1988, I wrote to them all, asking to inform me of future changes of address,” Davatz said. “But for the last series I was very thankful for the aid of Google!”

couple over the years - 7 Barbara and Sascha in 1982. Barbara Davatz Barbara Davatz

Davatz says that she and her subjects have become a “photographic family”.

couple over the years - 8 Barbara and Sascha in 1982. Barbara Davatz Barbara Davatz

“I am very fond of them all. I admire and appreciate the courage they’ve shown and their loyalty to the project,” she said. “I am very thankful.”

couple over the years - 9 Sascha and family in 1997. Barbara Davatz Barbara Davatz

Davatz did not anticipate that she would continue this series for 30 years. “I never actually decided this [project would continue] at one particular moment,” she said. “It was a more or less organic development.”

couple over the years - 10 Sascha and family in 2014. Barbara Davatz Barbara Davatz

One of the fathers from her subjects said that she should designate a “successor” because he wanted his daughters to be documented as they grew up. But as for continuing this series, Davatz says, “The work is definitely finished, and that’s definitely a good feeling.”

couple over the years - 11 Barbara and Béla in 2014. Barbara Davatz Barbara Davatz

Read: Bill Gates was briefly overtaken as the world’s richest person

Also: Incredible pictures give unexpected perspective into how the most wealthy live

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