Some Color Slides Found In A Gutter



Earlier this week I was sitting at work when I received the following message from Chris:

While on a ride yesterday I found a handful of color photo slides with dates ranging from 1976 to 1980 printed on them – in the gutter along Superior Street, right across from the newish East High School. I haven't taken them out of my vest pocket to look at them. Do you know anyone who likes having random stuff like that? If not, I'll probably squint at them for a few minutes and throw them away.

Being an armchair connoisseur of found photography, I, of course, told him that I was someone who likes having random stuff like that and arranged a pick up later in the day.

Usually when I come across some old 35mm negatives or slides, they results aren't that great. There is always that baseline amount of interestingness to be had due to the pure nostalgia that happens because of the aging of what is on the frames. Often though any subjects in the frame are hidden behind the propaganda of cheek to cheek poses and fake smiles, which I think tells a less exicting story than more candid and natural photographs.

Once the slides hid my scanner, and much to my surprise, the small collection of found color slides very much met my ideas on what makes for perfect snapshots. Time to take a trip down someone else's' memory lane.

Welcome To Arizona - 1976
Welcome To Arizona - 1976
Welcome To Arizona - 1976

First up, a couple posing in front of a sign in Arizona. A fairly routine "Stand there together." photograph. I don't have much for commentary on this one.

Elderly Couple with Car - 1976
Elderly Couple with Car - 1976
Elderly Couple with Car - 1976

Another "Stand there together." photograph. I do appreciate the choice in the wider framing to pull in more of the background elements. I tend to use this same wide field composition in most of the portraits I shoot as well. I think that what is around the subject is often just as important as the subject themseelves. Someone's face will tell you what they looked like, but I think what kind of possessions and environment that people keeps around themselves is what really tells you what the people in the portraits are really about.

Though, one time while listening to the panel discussion of a grant that I didn't receive, this very deliberate composition choice was written off as a negative because "Obviously he is too scared to approach his subjects." Ooof. Listening to audio recordings of your grant submissions can be brutal.

1974
1974
1974

Some more "Stand there together." action in this photograph. Except, this one is different than the previous two photos.

What I think is going on in this one, and what makes it so much better is that the person who told the couple to "Stand there together so I can get a picture of you two." is not the photographer who took this photo. The person who instructed the couple is off the right where the woman is still looking and smiling. This is the work of a photographer with a better eye waiting for that moment right as they let their guard down after posing for mother's centered composed, deadpan photograph before they head off for prom.

Thanksgiving  -1973
Thanksgiving -1973
Thanksgiving -1973

A Thanksgiving dinner of sorts. I love the awkward timing of grandpa shoving food into his mouth. Paper turkey is a great touch.

Living Room - 1977
Living Room - 1977
Living Room - 1977

Again with the awkward timing. I have no guesses as to what is going on, but I love it. Starts to touch the surreal.

Pink Bathroom - 1980
Pink Bathroom - 1980
Pink Bathroom - 1980

This photograph could probably be slipped right into a William Eggleston exhibition and no viewer would be the wiser. I really connect with this photograph as being someone who had grown up in a house that was touched by the scourge of pink bathroom tile.

Christmas - 1980
Christmas - 1980
Christmas - 1980

Some Christmas antics. I love how busy this photo is aside from the couple. Presents, vintage jackets, late 1970s style product boxes, and the family cat.

Bedroom - 1980
Bedroom - 1980
Bedroom - 1980

I wonder if this is the woman behind some of the other candid photographs. She appears to have similar features to the other woman in the photos, but not the same. (I am extremely bad at faces. So if this is obviously the same person, don't judge) Possibly a sister? That would explain the access to the other candid family moments.

Regardless, this looks very much like a self-portrait to me. The pose doesn't seem natural enough to be a candid capture, especially with the way the nice camera is being held on her lap. Plus the compositional emphasis on her space, and everything she has chosen to put on display to define who she is visual.

Now to cast these photos into the wild and see if I can land an "Oh My God! That is me!" reply in my inbox or in the comments.

Update!

Another slide was found in the same spot. And just like the rest, it is pretty darn rad.

Motocross - 1976
Motocross - 1976
Motocross - 1976

Category Found Photos