The Coolest Photo Project in the World: An Interview with Dayna Barringer of The Flip Slide

Dayna Barringer is currently in Southeast Asia working on the most interesting photo project in the world - The Flip Slide. She's retracing her grandfather's travels around the world and taking photos of the same places, from the same angle, fifty years later.

Armed with only the photos and the name of the city where they were taken, Dayna is on a worldwide scavenger hunt to retrace her grandfather's footsteps. We caught up with her to ask our burning questions.....

Tell us more about Dayna Barringer (you don't have to reply in the third person - unless that's how you normally speak).

Hello Tripping World, this is Dayna Barringer. (yes sometimes I do like to talk in the third person) I was born and raised in Southern California. I went to Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo for undergrad and studied Marketing. After college, I moved to Seattle for 5 years, then relocated back to California. I have called San Francisco my home for the past 4 years now.

The music, the culture, the food, the landscape, and the people are why I love SF more each day. For the past two years I launched and ran a tech startup in SF. In October 2012, I took a break from my career to pursue this project and have been traveling the world for the past 6 months. To see the world was one of the best decisions I have ever made. If you have the desire, go do it! It is something you will never regret.

What sparked your love of travel?

The main thing that sparked my interest to travel was my grandfather. The main trip my family took each year was back to New England to see my grandparents each summer. The summers were when my grandfather was home from traveling. So over time, seeing his photos and collections of gems from around the world made me more intrigued to travel. I had been to many places within the US and only a few outside the country, so travel was a high priority on my list of to dos.

A few years ago, I was flipping through an old photo book of my grandfathers and an idea popped into my head. I thought, how cool would it be to take a trip overseas and go back to the same place he was, stand in the same spot, and snap the same photo. This 2 week trip eventually turned into the idea of The Flip Slide.

You're currently traveling in Southeast Asia working on an incredibly cool photo project called The Flip Slide. Do tell us all about it!

The Flip Slide is a photo documentary retracing my grandfathers photos from around the world. My grandfather was a world-wide photographer who owned a photography business on two cruise liners. He had the good fortune of traveling around the world for four decades and documented his travels through photos. He has been to almost every country at least once. And as you can imagine his slide collection is uncanny.

With The Flip Slide, I revive his photos by putting a collection of slides together based on my itinerary and recreate his photos fifty years later. Standing in the same place and shooting at the same angle, I have not only been able to see the change in scenery but also connect two parts of history together. I started this project in 2010 in Spain and Italy. At the end of 2012, I traveled to Europe for 3 months and visited 6 countries. Currently I am in SE Asia, visiting 4 countries.

Of all of the spots your grandfather photographed, which one so far has been the trickiest to find?

All of the photos I recreate are tricky in their own way. Coming to a new city and having no sense of direction usually throws anyone off so the process of finding these photos turns into a photo scavenger hunt of sorts. The slides have the name of the country and city on them, but that's mostly it. Finding them takes more work. I depend on chatting up locals and the kindness of strangers to help find these photos. As you can imagine, the stories that go along with these interactions are one of a kind.

The trickiest photo to find was on this recent trip. It was The Marble Temple in Bangkok. It took the kindness of 7 strangers to get me to the correct place. Most local people I asked had seen the temple and were able to steer me in the right vicinity but it was not without a lot of broken English, sign language, and smiles to get me to the exact same spot my grandfather was. A link to this story can be found here.

Is there one particular place you were especially excited to visit for this project?

When I was deciding what countries I wanted to visit and scanning through the photos, Hamburg, Germany was definitely a place that stood out. There was one particular photo of the main street in town that looked so quintessential old world Europe. (see attached) After doing some research on the city, and it being described as the Venice of the North, I was sold. As soon as I stepped foot into that city, I felt totally engaged. It was one of the most eclectic and magical places I have been. Here is a little love letter I wrote to the city.

What has been the most surprising experience you've had while creating The Flip Side?

I think the most surprising experience are the connections I have made while creating The Flip Slide. The people I meet on the road shape the moments and experiences I have while traveling. With the locals the project connects us because I am recreating history in their own town, city, country. They have an invested interest to see the history and progression of where they live. With other travelers the project connects us because we can talk about all of the places we have visited, where we are going, what we have liked, disliked, etc.

The biggest thing you realize while traveling is that everyone has a story. And sharing your own makes it more likely for them to share as well. It opens up the gates of communication between strangers. And when you do this, you no longer are talking to a stranger but a friend. The relationships I have built while creating this project have been extraordinary.

At this point, how many photos have you taken and how many do you have left to re-create?

I have taken 96 photos currently out of 293 but there are hundreds more left to take. I have 4 boxes full of slides that represent all of the countries in the world. My grandfather traveled for 40 years, so I have a lot of work ahead of me! I will be continuing to travel to pursue The Flip Slide for many years to come.

Follow Dayna on her adventures via her blog and via the Flip Slide Facebook page and Twitter.

Interview by Anis Salvesen.