Podcast: Lost Rolls America - A Telescope into the Past


Do you have undeveloped rolls of film that have been sitting around forever? Maybe you don't even realize that you have unprocessed rolls from the "good ol' days of analog" in an old camera bag or a dresser drawer. Now is the time to look into this matter and have the chance to explore and share your memories, perhaps even rediscover events and people that memory has left behind.

On this week's episode of the B&H Photography Podcast, we welcome the directors of Lost Rolls America, Ron Haviv and Lauren Walsh. Inspired by Haviv's own The Lost Rolls book, they have initiated this project to create a national archive of lost, yet now found, images "to form a collective memory that prioritizes the role of photos in constructing our personal and shared pasts. In revisiting the past, this project also encourages contemplation of how the present and future will be remembered." The idea is simple, but one look at the growing archive and the memories shared, and it becomes clear how powerful this project can be. With Haviv and Walsh, we recount the genesis of the project, how PhotoShelter, PhotoWings, and FUJIFILM came onboard as partners, and they offer insight on the future plans for the project. They also discuss a few of the more interesting images and recollections submitted, how the submission process works and, of course, they encourage our listeners to submit lost rolls.

Above Photograph © Mette Lampcov/Lost Rolls America


Lost Rolls America: What kind of memories does this photo bring back?
Valentina Zavarin: I was leaving alone to America. Time for adventure away from my mother and siblings. I remember how excited I was for this new life ahead after World War II. Everyone is smiling but I remember they were in a shock that they were left behind.

Valentina Zavarin/Lost Rolls America, 1950

Lost Rolls America: Does this photo bring back any memories?
Debra Miller: Yes. Sadness, horror, shock.

Debra Miller/ Lost Rolls America, 2001

Lost Rolls America: Is this what you expected to see?
Elizabeth Kamir: No. The old roll of Tri-X that had taken up residence in my drawer for nearly 30 years always dared me to imagine. I never planned to develop it. I assumed if there was anything on the roll, it would either be something innocuous, like pictures of my grandmother or something embarrassing, like theatrical, nude self-portraits. I might have taken pictures like that back then.

Elizabeth Kamir/Lost Rolls America, 1990

Lost Rolls America: What kind of memories does this photo bring back?
Mette Lampcov: It makes me think of how much I used to laugh my head off with her (Tracy). It makes me miss London and old friends, especially people who have a wicked sense of humor - and seeing her head float in the back garden is a perfect reminder of her beautiful funny madness.

Mette Lampcov/Lost Rolls America, 2002

Lost Rolls America: How does this old photo make you feel?
Michael Starensic: I feel a sense of accomplishment that I was able to capture the times and emotions as the country swayed from crisis to crisis. This was the last interlude - "coming up for air" I called it - between the major tumult of the Kosovo War two months earlier and the start of renewed opposition that month. We soon headed back to the capital and events were intense for the next 14 months. Nevena and I married 2 months later in Belgrade in the midst of mounting protest and turmoil.

Michael Starensic/Lost Rolls America, 1999

Lost Rolls America: How does this old photo make you feel?
Bruce Lampcov: Very nostalgic. I miss the days when my children were young and together we discovered new places, new cultures.

Bruce Lampcov/Lost Rolls America, 2004

Lost Rolls America: What kind of memories does this photo bring back?
Tamika Jancewicz: Just how huge I was when I was pregnant! I think I felt that way when I took the picture as well.

Tamika Jancewicz/Lost Rolls America, 2007

Lost Rolls America: What are we looking at here?
Russell Gontar: This is my friend, Linda. We spent an afternoon taking pictures at the beach and old amusement park. I asked her to close her eyes in an attempt to be "arty".

Russell Gontar/Lost Rolls America, 1977

Lost Rolls America: How does this old photo make you feel?
Jennifer Mitchell: As all the kiddos in the picture are my nieces and nephew, it makes me feel amazingly proud. One is in the Air Force Academy, one is a wedding planner in a Colorado Rocky Mountain resort, and one just got accepted into a PhD program for Astrophysics. I bet my sister (who is reading to them) thinks that she might have had a little something to do with it. :) When I showed her the picture, she sighed and said, "Oh, that was always one of my favorite things to do with those kids!"

Jennifer Mitchell/Lost Rolls America, 2004

Lost Rolls America: How does this old photo make you feel?
Keith Munger: Like One Of The Miraculous Few That Loves His Wife As Much Now As In 1969. I Am A Very Lucky Guy!

Keith Munger/Lost Rolls America, 1969

Guests: Lauren K. Walsh and Ron Haviv

Ron Haviv is a is an Emmy nominated, award-winning photojournalist and co-founder of the photo agency VII, dedicated to documenting conflict and raising awareness about human rights issues around the globe. He has worked in more than one hundred countries and published four critically acclaimed collections of photography. His work has been featured in numerous museums and galleries, including the Louvre, the United Nations, and the Council on Foreign Relations.

Lauren Walsh is a professor and writer who teaches at The New School and NYU, where she is the Director of NYU Gallatin's Photojournalism Lab. She is editor of Macondo, a photo book documenting the long-term conflict in Colombia, and coeditor of the collection, The Future of Text and Image, as well as the Millennium Villages Project, a photography book about efforts to relieve extreme poverty in sub-Saharan Africa. She has appeared on CNN as a scholar of photography and digital culture, as well as in the documentary 9/11: Ten Years Later.

Ron Haviv, Allan Weitz, and Lauren Walsh  © John Harris
Ron Haviv, Allan Weitz, and Lauren WalshJohn Harris

Host: Allan Weitz
Senior Creative Producer: John Harris
Senior Producer: Jason Tables
Executive Producer: Lawrence Neves