A special event sponsored by the project LOST ROLLS AMERICA will be featured this week as part of the 10th Month of Photography Los Angeles, to take place at the Line Hotel, April 12-15. I spent a bit of time familiarizing myself with the project and would like to share some of my thoughts.
Ron Haviv, well-known award-winning photographer, and Lauren Walsh, Director of NYU Gallatin’s Photojournalism Lab, are the forces behind the project. The idea was to solicit undeveloped film that might be hiding in people’s drawers, almost forgotten, but perhaps worthy of seeing the light of day. The deal was, you sent them your undeveloped roll of film, they had it developed by FujiFilm, and the finished images were then returned to you, with the option of incorporating one or two into the archive, after some questions regarding time, place, subject, and photographer’s reaction and memories evoked are answered. Here is the project’s original description:
Lost Rolls America is a national photo archive created by a democratized process: Anyone can submit their lost roll of film to the project for processing (the images must be at least 3 years old), and the images are subsequently returned to the originator. These contributors, who are members of the general public, are asked to select one image, answer several questions that are provided, and return it to the project for inclusion in the archive.
This photography project is the brainchild of Ron Haviv, Project Creator and Emmy-nominated, award winning photojournalist and co-founder of the photo agency VII, and Lauren Walsh, Project Director and Director of NYU Gallatin’s Photojournalism Lab. Her work focuses on the history of photography, contemporary visual culture, war reportage and journalistic ethics. Ron’s prior book, The Lost Rolls, was the jumping off point for this project.
Meanwhile, the archive has grown into several hundred images, and these can be studied along with the fascinating answers to the questions, on the website devoted to the project.
Here is the poster for this week’s event:
Studying the pictures in the collection is a great adventure into recent popular, “vernacular,” and even some professional lost photography. Forgotten places and people take on a mysterious aura: friends, relatives, and pets in long-forgotten moments of levity or seriousness remind all of us about the fleeting nature of life. Indeed, even experiments with fine art photography may be hidden among the undeveloped rolls still hidden in your closets or other places, as the images submitted by Melanie Chapman and Chris Jurgenson demonstrate. I leave it to you to find these and other images in the archives and to read the responses of the photographers who found the films. Not every ambiguous moment can be disambiguated! And yet, memories from our past, when shared, can become a part of our universal experience and help us understand our common concerns.
© Walker Sayen / Courtesy Lost Rolls America
Anne Olmstead (assumed), © Jeff Olmstead / Courtesy Lost Rolls America
© Melanie Chapman / Courtesy Lost Rolls America
© Chris Jurgenson / Courtesy Lost Rolls America