Through the past, darkly

UNLOVED FILM SLIDES WILL BE SHOWING UP at second hand stores for at least a few more generations. Some photo fads hung in there as technology progressed in the ’90s and ’00s (Polaroid, 110 film), but the digital era doesn’t so much shun film and its products as act like they never existed. Digitizing old photo media now seems quaint (why bother when there’s an app for “antique”?). Slides have the same musty, irredeemable taint as VHS. So carousels, cartridges and boxes of snapshots end up trashed.

What families lose, collectors gain.

I’m sorting through 200 or so slides from an estate sale in Des Moines. The sale companies will ask $20 or more for this stuff, but they’re not in a position to argue when you offer $3. Johanna and I are taking them for a spin on the old Kodak Carousel 4600 Projector, most from 1959.

This batch has handwritten captions, which help you speculate about the life depicted, but you have to read between the scrawls: first-wave suburbanite, retired engineer, married to an avid gardener who likes dresses, National Park enthusiast, University of Iowa grad or ISU (not sure), at times a conquering adventurer, other times a quiet domestic, drawn to asymmetrical compositions and vast expanses.

Slide seeing:

> Kinks – People Take Pictures Of Each Other

  1. Jake said:

    It’s cool he’s actually trying to make contact. Me, I prefer to invent their reality.

  2. Efforts to make contact failed. Run-around from DMV and public records. However, the slideshow is my own Time-Life/NatGeo/time machine. 500 slides from European trips in the late 50’s (UK, Fra, Bel, NL, Ger, Ita, Sui, Gre, Tur, Isr, Egy, Iran, Iraq, Pak, Afg, Jordan, Syr…) and then a cross country trip from Arlington, VA to SF, CA via Mexico. Got the carousel as well. Good times.

  3. Jake said:

    You hit the motherlode with that one. I love travel images, though I’ve learned that pictures of distant lands can often be rote and boring while, in the hands of the right snapshooter, everyday domestic scenes can hold endless fascination.

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