Monday, April 16, 2012

Turning Something Negative Into a Positive

This past Sunday was the first day of the season at the local flea.  Although it was not nearly the long dreary endless winter of last year - in fact it has been quite balmy! - I was looking forward to heading over to poke through the goods.
Sadly, it started to rain a bit just as the dealers were setting up.  This was frustrating to all, but, some still braved the weather so I managed to scrounge a few things.  At the bottom of a box I found a bag full of negatives in sleeves.  I had no idea what the photos were, only that the sleeves looked like they dated to the 1940's.  I purchased the lot plus a couple of vintage magazines for $5 and came home with a new project.

At home I made a cup of coffee and took a quick look at each negative in the sleeves.  I broke them into two piles, those I wanted to scan and those I thought I could pass on for now.  As I went through I found a couple of photos here and there too - only three (see above).  As I made my my way through the negatives I could see that they were indeed 1940's - not only from the dress, and hairstyles of the women, but also from the fact that there were servicemen in uniform in many of the photos.  As typical of snapshots - both now and then - most images fell into the categories of people at the beach, traveling, with family or dressed up for special occasions.

My scanner does not have a film setting, but, I put them on the bed in groups, scanned, inverted, flipped and adjusted the details within Photoshop to try to bring out the best possible images from the scans.  Although I had an idea from the negatives what I would see, each time I inverted the scans I had a whole new set of images to surprise me!  Although these may in fact be in someone's album somewhere, I felt like I was giving the images, and, the people within them, new life by turning them to positives and sharing with you here.

I believe the photographer was a woman, as the name on some of the sleeves was a woman's name.  They were processed in Fall River, MA, and, I believe that southern Massachusetts and a trip to New York City are what most of the images capture.  The woman in the photo above appears to be holding a Kodak, so, it could very well have been her.

This idea ties neatly into a lovely set of pamphlets my mother gave to me recently.  They all show images of Kodak marketing still and moving images to women in the early part of the 20th century.

There are many photos at the beach, and, although the most fun, they are also the most overexposed negatives and thus the hardest to get the images from.  I still tried, however, as I love vintage snapshots of people laughing and goofing around and that is what people are usually doing in the beach photos.

There are also many photos of people dressed to the nines!  The one date I found was 1943 - I believe these hats and bags support that, don't you?

 Even the packaging and inserts were a fun glimpse into history.

Some of my favorite photos were those that showed storefronts or signage; the items and lettering style further help to date the photos.  The one directly above, and, likely the one above that, are taken in Manhattan.

I wish I knew more about these photos to share, but, it would all be speculation, so, I will just let you take a look at those I turned to positive and decide for yourself who these people are and what they are doing.  I will add the remaining images below - enjoy!


  1. You always outdo yourself! The folks in these photos and the photographers are fortunate that you bought these negatives. You know their value and share them with the world... Kathleen

  2. These are awesome! It doesn't even matter that I don't know who they are, they might as well have been my family from years ago. Really a treat!

  3. Thanks so much for reading and commenting!


  4. Just like me, you're fascinated by old vintage photos and the stories behind them. A great deal of times, I feel sad that these images have been abandoned or simply tossed for 'junk' and then people like us come along and try to salvage, share or piece these threads together of 'who, what, where and when' these people were. Amazing...
    What a great post and series of photos you've collected. I'm a lover of all things old and interesting because there is always a story to be told. Thank you!


  5. Thanks for stopping by and commenting Vanessa! Yes, I love anything old...especially peeking into the lives of others in candid moments from the past...fascinating!


  6. These photos are fabulous! What a treat! I, too, scored a bunch of old negatives at a vintage shop in Asotria, OR and now have inspiration to do something with them! Thank you! Can't wait to get started (and might just have to share them on my blog as well).
    From one Christine to another! :)

  7. Great find! Thanks for commenting and please share when you reveal what you have! Regards, Christine

  8. These are lovely, Christine! Like Vanessa, they make me sad that these moments were important enough for someone to capture, yet without the stories that go with them, they are moments lost in time. STILL, with you turning 'negative into positive' they EXIST again and, in that sense, are remembered.


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