Read: My Lost Rolls

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Yep, that’s me. Mid 1990’s. Flannel shirt, long hair, Canon EOS1v, wire rimmed glasses. A walking billboard to the grunge movement. Pearl Jam was my favorite band. But why am I showing you this? We recently embarked on a collaborative project with Ron Haviv titled The Lost Rolls, which features over 200 rolls of recently discovered film belonging to Ron and chronicling some of the major events of the last few decades.

When I explain the project to photographers, and civilians alike, what I typically hear is “Oh, geez, I’ve got unprocessed film too!” I also have a stray roll or two, but what I realized was I have a lot of “lost” film that I had either forgotten about or never printed, published, featured or used in any way. These images HAVE been processed, in some cases even printed, but I never did anything with them, so in my mind they too are lost. Until now.

In my opinion, one of the most important things a working photographer can do is create an archive. Most of the older photographers I know, especially those of note, are often times mining their archive MORE than they are actually doing assignments. This trend has only exploded in recent years and will continue to do so as the industry continues with its “transition.” A lot of young photographers are focused on the now, and being a yoga fan I can appreciate this, but when it comes to a photography archive I’m also a fan of the “when.”

Over the next few months I’m going to mine my own archive, looking for the “lost” frames, rolls, moments and will bring them to you here. If you find your own lost moments let us know. The Lost Rolls website has a contact form. Alert us to what you find.

Now, a little about this image. This was made in Bahia Kino, Mexico. I was working at the paper in Phoenix, and another photographer and I decided to drive south into Mexico and explore. We hit Hermosillo, where I had my first taste of Mexican moonshine, and then made our way west to the bay. I don’t know what this place is like now, but at the time Bahia Kino was just fishermen and their families. A few small hotels scattered on the beach, mostly empty. Just off the coast is Isla Tiburon, Shark Island, where men dive for abalone. These are the guys I was photographing when this image was made. Just seeing this image brings back SO MANY memories I’d totally and utterly forgotten about. My lifestyle was SO different. I had so few worries in my life. No mobile phone, no computer, no daily slog of email. I was much more engaged with the world. I was also getting up with the sun on a daily basis. NOT to do email, or sit in front of a phone or computer, but to actually go forth into the world and make photographs. I had very little money but that didn’t seem to impact the situation. The paper was providing film and processing. I also had a Leica around my neck, and was beginning to understand what kind of picture that little device was able to provide. I also remember it was loaded with Kodachrome which always came back in paper slide mounts, a giant red “KODACHROME” stamped on the rebate.

The fisherman believed there was a spirit on Isla Tiburon, one that would kill them if they slept on the island, so at night they would all pile back in their boats, sleeping just offshore. It was easy to work back in those days. I wasn’t distracted by things like success, being known, having a following, marketing or anything else centered around photography being a career. Perhaps I should have been, but at the time you just tried to get better and to make the best possible images you could. Those images, in turn, would speak for you. Placed in slide sheets and sent to New York. They were your passport, your voice and your soul if you were good enough.

There are more images from this shoot…..

After finding the above image stuck to the bottom of a plastic binder, I decided to dig deeper. What follows are my first steps as a photographer.
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Based on the comments about my hair. From the same trip. Just dazzling the locals with my mastery of Spanish and my mastery of the fashion world.

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16 Comments on “Read: My Lost Rolls”

  1. The magic of photography Daniel; nothing else can take you back to a time and place like a photograph. How I miss Kodachrome.

    You remember when you had long hair, I remember when I had hair.

    Mike.

  2. Your posts of late, Meat & Candy, David Burnett, Shifter promo and now this one have really been hitting a chord.
    Terrific posts.
    Rather than just sit back and enjoy them I thought that the time is well overdue to comment and say ‘well done’ and ‘keep them coming’.

    Steve.

    1. Thanks Steve,

      The dialogue with Shifter is different from Smogranch. I’m toying with idea of changing up again. Thanks for taking the time to write.

  3. ‘A walking billboard for the grunge movement’. Oh I miss those days. I don’t wear my flannie much anymore, but Pearl Jam are still my favourite band. As well as the trip down memory lane, found it very interesting to think about mining the archive. Distance from the rawness of a situation can certainly be a great new lens to view past snaps.

    1. Rachel,
      The archive is huge. For many photographers it might be the only they have that is worth anything, and could be what sustains them later in life. IF photography is even viewed that way. Keep your flannel. I love PJ too.

  4. First I love the post, it brought some memories too … Not many since my paper adventure was short, really short; and not as adventurous as yours (I wish, that was my dream) but from the first time I was actually making few bucks with my camera … Anyway, I’m getting lost in my own thoughts, crossing with another thoughts, crossing with another memories (that flannel …).

    I love what you doing here changing as you go, trying to figure out things, experimenting, breaking some rules here and there … so I’m up for the change! The only thing I really miss from last change is the Leica files, I never had a Leica and i don’t think I will ever be able to afford one, it’s allright, I sort of found “my own Leica”, the Ricoh GR (the whole series, from film to digital, just love em all). At some point; in a little blog I sort of keep alive for fun, where I post my “weird photography” as I like to call it (just random snapshots I take here and there); I even thought in copying your Leica files format and do my own version with photos from my GR’s (yeah, directly copying, a complete rip off, sorry but I thought it was a bright idea what you did) … Then I listen at my recorded voice … yeah I forgot how it sound, LOL. Anyway, i miss the Leica files, I believe it was a great format, i hope to see something like that coming again.

    Cheers!

    1. Erlantz,
      Thanks for writing. I think I’ll continue something like “The Leica File” but I will be featuring images made with whatever camera I happen to be using. I’m also going to broaden the podcast, so stay tuned.

  5. What I notice is that in many of your posts you make reference to ‘Over the border’ ‘South’ ‘Mexico’ ‘Nicaragua’ etc.
    South America has really got under your skin.

    Mike.

    1. Mike,

      I love Latin America. All of it. I’ve been to many countries in this region, and think about moving there all the time. Not that I can but I think about it.

  6. Dear Daniel,
    first of all thank you for your wonderfull blog! After reading your posts I think we are brothers in mind. Me too starting a carrier as a young photojournalist in the mid 90‘s in south spain covering every story for a weekly german paper Icould get. Without the thoughts of money or time, just me and my old F‘2s and 3s and a couple of manual lenses trying to change the world…lol.
    Now nearly 25 years later , I‘m back to germany working as a professional photojournalist all my life. Of course digital but my Leica and the Hassi is alway with me. All my family photojournalism is done analog. And back to your post, I ‚am discovering a lot of lost rolls.Shot back in the 90‘s . All my digital stuff shot back in 2000 is lost, currupted files broken hard drives etc.
    But my negatives are still here and one day I can hand them over to my children like my parents did to me.
    Carry on with your wonderfull site! And one day if you come to Stuttgart in Germany give me a call!
    Greetings Leif

    1. Leif,
      Imagine all of the work that is lost from that same timeframe. I remember wire service guys telling me they would save the ONE image for the day then delete everything else they shot because storage was such a problem. And I remember newspapers, HUGE newspapers, telling me they were archiving their entire history on laser disc and then throwing away all the negatives and prints. It’s pure insanity, but also gets overlooked today as the masses are drunk on all things new. Nice to meet you!

      1. Dear Daniel,
        so true! About ten years ago a writer an friend of the former weekly I used to work in spain for, called me and said „ Leif listen, they are going to throw out all the folders with negatives they have in the paper. Do you want me to rescue yours?“ I said of course and now I‘ve got all the original work from 20 years ago here in my office. Imagine it had been throwing away in the bin. I know theese are not Pulitzers but for me they are my first steps in photojournalism.
        Let‘s stay in touch!
        Best wishes,
        Leif

        1. Leif,
          Same thing happened with me. They were tossing it all, but someone sent me a portion of what I made. Such a loss for humanity but few seem to care.

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