Chip Weiner on preserving Tampa’s past through photographs

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Photographer Chip Weiner
Photographer Chip Weiner

Photographer Chip Weiner was a guest on WMNF WaveMakers on Tuesday (Sept. 19) to discuss his mission to preserve Tampa’s history through photographs

Weiner, a mental health counselor by trade, recently published a two-volume book of historic photographs of Tampa juxtaposed with photos from today that he made in the exact same spots. Titled “Burgert Brothers: Look Again Rephotographing Historic Tampa,” it relies on photographs in the special collection sections of the Hillsborough County Library and the University of South Florida.

Each set of photos includes a brief history of the building and its site. As a whole, it tells a rich history of Tampa, from its days as a sleepy town of cigar workers and immigrants to its current status as a fast-growing, dynamic urban center that continues to attract people from all around the world. You can find many of the photos or purchase the book at oldtampaphotos.com

Many of the photos show beautiful buildings that are now parking lots, but it also illustrates how much of Tampa’s history has been preserved. “There are several buildings in this city….that have been beautifully preserved,” Weiner says. He hopes decades from now a future photographer will duplicate his efforts.

“It, as many creative projects did, was born out of the Covid period,” Weiner said. A photo project he had been working on took a forced hiatus. “I’ve gotta have someplace to direct my creative juices,” he says, and started researching the Burgert Brothers collection, compiled from the thousands of photos the company created that chronicled Tampa for  nearly a century beginning in 1899.

Weiner worked diligently to find the exact spot where the original photos were taken, even matching the time of day (there’s an app for that)  and even including a car if there was one in the original.

Wiener has also spent years photographing food for Creative Loafing restaurant reviews and commercial clients and offers tips for the average person to improve their food photos for social media at his website (good lighting is key!)

Besides his work as a photographer, Chip is also is a licensed mental health counselor and clinical director for  the Tampa Bay Regional Critical Incident Team, which helps first responders deal with on-the-job trauma. 

Hear the entire conversation by clicking the link below, going to the WaveMakers archives or by searching for WMNF WaveMakers wherever you listen to podcasts.

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