It’s always a shame to see or even hear about old photographs succumb to degradation, and for lawyer-turned photographer Cezar Popescu to singlehandedly and painstakingly save the archive of Romanian photographer Costica Ascinte is truly admirable.
But first, who is Costica Ascinte? According to an article on Time magazine, after his stint as an army photographer during the First World War, Ascinte opened a small studio in Slozobia, Romania. For the next 20 years, he was said to be “likely the only professional photographer in the county” whose archive comprised a total of more or less 5,000 glass-plate negatives and hundreds of prints. Most of these seemingly were portraits.
A while back, a small regional museum published postcards that featured photos by Ascinte. Apparently the institution was able to acquire from the late photographers’ family plates which were later on kept “in wooden crates open to the elements and even to curious livestock.” Eventually, the museum granted Popescu permission to scan and digitize Ascinte’s archive, most of which are already in bad condition. Popescu began doing so a little over a year ago, and so far he has processed reportedly about 900 plates with neither institutional nor state support.
Anyway, what’s striking about the whole thing is what drives Popescu to do this:
I’m not the guy who can tell you if the content of the pictures is important or not. To me it just seems a shame to lose something so irreplaceable. (via Time)
If you’re curious about the process on how Popescu digitizes the photographs, we urge you to watch the video clip below: