Old Photographs as Window into Another World


This is the letter from the letter of Hyperallergenic blog for April 15, 2015.   A certain sadness about photographs that are stripped of their stories.

Yesterday, as I was walking through the crooked streets of Beyoğlu in Istanbul, I came across a beaten up suitcase filled with old photographs being sold for 50 kuruş (~$0.18) each. Only a few had dates or locations scribbled on the back.

I found myself gathering the over-exposed and badly printed photographs, as if I was saving them from this anonymous pile.

We often look through old photographs as tiny windows into another world, but they are also beautiful material relics of their era.

I started thinking about why we dispose of old images and strangley hoped some of my own photographs would one day get mixed into a cache like this for someone else to discover.

We come across these types of suitcases online every day, but to encounter them in person is rare. Photographs often take on a new power when they’re stripped of their stories to reveal layers that were probably invisible to their original maker.

Hrag Vartanian

suitcase photographs Istanbul

Posted in A Healthy Community Knows its History, Photography Archives.

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