Monday, February 27, 2012

50,000 + How It All Started

I just took a quick look at the stats page and noticed that, sometime in the past week or so, I went over 50,000 page views. I have no idea whether that's a big number for a blog like this or not, but when I started this I was lucky to get thirty or forty views a month, so it seems big to me. Anyway, to mark the 50,000 milestone, I thought I would do something I've never done before. I'm repeating myself. These seven images, all hand printed, by me, form the original glass negatives, are the very first photographs I posted on The New Found Photography.

I think it must be the dream of every collector of old photographs to walk into some out of the way junk shop and find a box of photos by an unknown photographer of real talent. I sometimes wonder, if circumstances had been a bit different, if this could have been my discovery. It was back in the good old days when I had a full time job, a decent income, and three weeks of paid vacation a year. I had just finished a backpacking trip in Montana, had cleaned up, packed the car, and was headed home to Los Angeles, when I made an impulse stop at an antique store, well more of a junk shop actually, and found these glass negatives. The owner of the place told me that he once had a crate of images, all from the same source. He thought that there must have been 500 or so, but he had broken up the collection. He had given some of them away, thrown some out, (Not because they were damaged or not very good, but because they were taking up too much space.) and had been selling the rest for a couple of bucks a piece. He had about forty or so left, but for reasons I've never understood, thought credit cards were for suckers, and it was a cash only sale. I bought these seven, got his phone number, and after I got home called him up, and offered to send him a check for the rest, but he said, "Nah, it's too much work."

I wonder what those other negatives might have been like. And I also wonder who took them. Perhaps it was a local professional or maybe an amateur who had a primitive darkroom in the fruit cellar. When I look at the farm photograph, I don't see the mother of the family, so I sometimes speculate that the photographer was a woman. We will never know, and any chance of finding out has, I think, been destroyed by a road side vendor, who thought more highly of telephone poll insulators, old barbed wire, and 50 year old beer bottles than he did of a box of glass negatives, and the unknown photographer who recorded a small, intimate piece of Montana history.

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