Finding Purpose with My Grandfather’s Old Photos
Nathan Anderson

Inspiring stuff Nathan. My father was a pro photographer in the late 1940’s and then moved on to another career. He kept a lot of his darkroom gear and I would play with it as a kid in the late 60’s. Finally he sold it all but he kept all his old negs.

Now, somewhat like you, I have boxes and boxes of 5x7 black and white negs and they are in beautiful condition. All stored in indivdual glassine envelopes. I printed a few when I had a darkroom and they are gorgeous. Lately I have scanned some negs and they are really great as well. That aside, there is one major problem.

The majority of the shots are studio protraits. There is a rudimentary catalog but that has become dishevelled over the years so I can only identify a few images, mostly family. The rest, hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of portraits, are not indentifiable.

I would really like to get these negs or at least a print back to the people in the portraits or, at this point, their family members. I assume most of the images are of local people so I may be able to locate someone who could identify some of the images. But I would like to do this on a broader scale.

I was thinking of scanning the images and then setting up a “lost portraits” website. Not sure how this would work and that’s part of the reason I am commenting here. Perhaps readers of your story of your grandfather have some interesting ideas on what the website could be. Maybe just a simple download site but I would really like to do more perhaps incorporating the stories of some these people.

I’ll continue following the story of Les’s images. Just a very cool story. And don’t let that F4 gather dust. Start shooting some transparencies and perhaps you’ll capture some of your grandfather’s magic.

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