Blogger collects pieces of Walla Walla history

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WALLA WALLA -- Joe Drazan seeks historic, vintage and new photographs that he then posts on his blog -- wallawalladrazanphotos.blogspot.com.

"All the pictures I take have pieces of Walla Walla in them," Drazan said. "I don't try to be an artist and alter the truth of the pictures. I just want to show the true image, no matter whether it's a shot of fall leaves on Main Street or a photograph of a vintage photograph from the beginning of the 20th century."

After retiring from a 33-year career as a librarian at Whitman College's Penrose Library, Drazan began volunteering at the Walla Walla Public Library. In 2007, he started the work on his "Historic Walla Walla Valley on CD" that by the end of 2008 was a compilation of 12 CDs and more than 13,000 photos. The collection includes photos of banks, churches, schools, pioneer portraits and advertisements along with photos from magazines circa the beginning of the 20th century.

The project is a fundraiser for the public library and so far has raised $1,300.

"I am collecting photographs for a 13th CD that will be out in January," Drazan said." This is a hobby, I'm not a historian. I'm just interested in photos and want to see and show what life was like 50, 60, 70 years ago. They are memory joggers, and I'm interested in all the stories behind (them)."

Drazan has collected his photographs from different libraries in the region, local businesses, banks, history files in churches, private collections and PTA albums in schools.

The photographs are organized in various series and most of them include the dates they were taken.

"I always carry my digital camera, and I just go in and ask whether I can shoot a copy of a photograph that I find interesting," Drazan said.

His Canon is always handy on his daily wanders. Drazan has always had the passion for taking quick photos.

In the early 1960s, Drazan was part of the U.S. military stationed in West Germany, and he took some time to travel beyond the Iron Curtain.

"Everything seemed gray. However, I found East Berlin the most stunning and different. I had a transit visa, and though I think I wasn't supposed to, I took some photos and hid some coins," Drazan said.

Since the beginning of 2009, Drazan has expanded his photographic project into the blog. In addition to vintage photographs, he has started the "Walla Walla Slideshows" that include thousands of contemporary local photos. Some of the various series are "Barns in Walla Walla area," "Walla Walla is looking up," "Winter in Walla Walla," "Balloons over Walla Walla," and "Bricks of Walla Walla."

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