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Thursday
Apr072011

The Find

 

I was shopping with my family a few months back and came across this arrangement of images in a display case. I asked the shop owner about them and he mentioned that he found the images on the side of the road in a shoebox one day and that no other information about the photographer could be found. I was mesmerized by the images that I saw in that case. There was honesty in the naivety of the images - freedom to play without fear of the results. This struck me as rather odd being that they were probably taken by a photo enthusiast and not a professional and to my knowledge when an amateur messed up the mistake was glaringly so - which was not the case here. I immediately started editing the pictures in my mind and so wanted to buy them on the spot but time got the best of us and we had to leave. We revisited the shop a few months later and I asked about the pictures. To my surprise they were still available and had been moved to the back to make room for larger items to be displayed. I paid $30 for the lot - roughly 250 pictures and some negs - and went home to begin where I had left off ages ago. As I started to sort and edit what really started to stand out was that the photographers voice was coming through in the images. Whether they knew it or not they were creating a cohesive body of work that had a distinct look to it. Now when I was working as an editor I was often asked by young photographers to critique their work and 99% of the time the feedback they got was to own their images - to create work that could be seen as coming from within them. Essentially, their look. Now here I was going through stacks of photos taken by someone who probably had not knowledge of such a thing as 'their look' yet the results before me would say differently. There were stacks of travel shots and stacks of animals, piles of portraits and still lifes (that really did reek of amateur at play) and the odd small photobook. After all was said and done I probably could have created a few edits of the work that was found.  

There is something magical about creating an edit out of something that you have no ownership over. No guidelines to adhere to, no existing notions of what the final product should be. This edit is more an exhibition of my reaction to the images as I mulled over them carefully. How well they play together and how I picture them working within a larger body of work that never has nor ever will exist. With these pictures I got to create a photographer and in essence, recreate their life as I saw it. 

 

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