My Found Photo Collection - Part I: The Gals


For about 5 months now I've been collecting old photographs, and like, that's it, I'm hooked.

I mean, there's the ritual of it- I'll go to junk shops on my Sundays off and dedicate a good amount of time to finding. Sinking my hands into a shallow pool of cast-off photos from who-knows-when-or-where, I don't quite know what I'm looking for...something distinct, usually: a gesture, an outfit, a thought, a time and place...
39¢ for small prints, 69¢ for larger ones.. for something generations older than I am, them's some pretty fair prices....

reads "By the sad sea waves Aug. 1922"

Antique stores and Junk shops like the one in my neighborhood obtain photos for resale by various means, a lot of them are obtained from "deads" or estates where someone has passed away, their belongings collected by dudes with trucks, and resold again. So these (more likely than not) have come from homes and families who have passed on, and these photos are like, real moments in someone's past. Someone felt compelled enough to preserve these people and save them, but they've been resold and amalgamated into a sea of castoffs.

SOOO many people collect photos, have been for years- The Met has an incredible archive donated from all over the place, and don't even get me started on Vivian Meier's story because holy crap.

I've tacked dozens and dozens of photographs on my wall dating from anywhere between 1904 to 1984 - and all have at some point grabbed me with the allure of their completely unknown provinces. I mean, what ends up happening is you just make up stories;
"Man, she looks caught off guard..I would be too if you took my photo in front of an outhouse"
"This dude must've been on vacation, nobody wears a suit to see the pyramids.."
"A dude in army fatigues plays the piano with a boxing glove on..well, the draft did get 'em young"
"Oh, I wonder if she made her dress, I wish I could do that- maybe she learned how to do it in Home Ec class..and I can barely hem a pant over here.."
"Oh crap, look at that car.."

I guess another thing that gets me is what the meaning of a photograph used to hold. Throughout the twentieth century, a film camera was extracted from its case, room, or place on a shelf in order to get something important; like, really important to the person taking the photos, at least. 
You'd shoot a roll of film and then wait a few days to pick them up. After waiting is when you'd see your captures and truly re-live whatever it was that you shot. Maybe you'd stick your photos in an album with glue, where they'd stay archived and protected for years, or maybe you'd keep them in a box under your bed, or on a shelf. Some you'd forget, some you'd look at regularly. Some you'll write on to get names down, because you might forget.

I grew up with my parents (who were both photographers, my dad professionally, and my mom in her own right) painstakingly curating our family photo albums with photos they'd take on our outings. Those albums are so precious to me, I can barely breathe looking through them sometimes, because there's always something I forgot I felt or knew about us as a family because we eventually fell apart when I was so young. It's a bittersweet thing, but photos do that for us, and I wonder if the owners of these pictures ever felt the same way. I'll never know, but there's a comfort there.

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  1. fantastic photos, great finds!

  2. Wow these are amazing. I have some old photos of my grandma like this. Ladies had some sass back then, lemme tell ya.


  3. I have never seen something like this, this is amazing!

    Spring destination on
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  4. Completely compelling. The most mundane snapshot becomes a precious trace and a rich history with the addition of a couple of decades .

  5. Nicely written. Next time you are at our house, ask to see Aunt Julia's old photos!

  6. This is so cool! It's nice seeing how times have changed, especially in fashion. I think I'm hooked too, haha.



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