Lost and Found Film with Chris Fletcher


Whenever you buy something second-hand, whether it's a rare piece of designer clothing at a thrift store or some old CDs, have you ever thought about the history and story behind the item? On the surface, we might not think about these used items, but behind the objects there could be an interesting story waiting to be told. Lomographer Chris Fletcher (@cjf) encountered a pile of slide films in a thrift store, scanned them, and posted them on his LomoHome.

The pictures he found, besides clearly displaying a profound understanding of the technicalities of photography, also had an emotional quality in every slide. When we asked him about the pictures he told us he was on the hunt for this mystery photographer and he began updating us with the progress of his quest. Today Chris gives us the whole story and tells us about the man behind the photos.

Credits: cjf

Hi Chris, can you introduce yourself to the Lomography Community and tell us how you got started with analogue photography?

I have shot film since being a schoolboy, back in the late 70s. I had a Kodak 110 Tele-Ektra. It was some consolation to capture images I liked while I was in a dreadful boarding school. Like most people, I later used digital for convenience. But how many of those images we all captured in digital form, even from just a few years back, survive? My interest in Lomography coincided with the rediscovery of negs and slides I had carried through my life, which I scanned. Then I started using my analogue cameras again with renewed purpose.

Can you tell us how you discovered these photos?

I came across them in a thrift store. I was without any of my own negatives to scan, saw they were from 1959 and 1960. I thought it was worth the modest cost, so I bought them.

Credits: cjf

What were your initial impressions when you scanned the slides?

I cleaned them and stuck them in the scanner and it was marvelous. Here was a photographer who was clearly falling in love with adventure and life. These were not documentary shots, ticking off a schedule of sites. They had a sensitivity and joy to them. A feeling of wonder which channeled through the viewfinder to the heart. Technically and compositionally they were generally excellent but it was the sense of discovery and awe that shone through.

Credits: cjf

How were you able to track down the photographer?

Only two of the 150 or so slides had any clues written on them as to the identity of these young men. A key image was two people in a cave before a bonfire. I identified one of them from the name written down on the slide mount. He is now a 91-year-old and a celebrated architect. Amazingly, I found out he lived nearby. The other young man must have been the photographer as he referred to 'me' on the notes on the slide. The architect confirmed this to me when I visited him and he told me the name of the photographer. They remain close friends to this day and the photographer even helped to build one of his celebrated houses and they became neighbors. I guess for this bonfire shot they had a friend take it or used a self-timer.

Credits: cjf

I have visited the photographer twice now. He left school at 16 to become a newspaper reporter, then was posted to Germany to do obligatory service with the British Army. He fell in love with literature (and with a German girl who inspired his passions). He traveled around Europe in his little Renault Dauphin seeing all that he could. From quite modest beginnings, he rose to become a well-respected professor of literature. In the image before the bonfire, he told me that they both recited Wordsworth's famous poem 'Above Tintern Abbey'. He is a wonderful man and I am very moved that the poetry of the pictures prefigured a life devoted to the same interest in beauty, life, and lyricism we see in his early pictures.

He was moving to a smaller house and the slides just got cleared out as part of that. I gave him copies of all of them and am now scanning some more for him which I will not post. When I discovered the identity of these men I wondered whether I should just leave memories where they were, a sweet lost world. In the end, I am glad I made contact because all the sense of the potential of life being discovered in the pictures came to be fulfilled in their lives.

I think my favourite pictures are the ones with him and his car. He looks proud and ready to embark on new discoveries. Also, I think his image of the skiers is brilliant in its composition and sense of movement. Though he told me he was disappointed the slopes were too crowded for him to ski!

Credits: cjf

What are your thoughts on the pictures?

I just keep thinking I wished I took them. Like many of us, as we get older and tied to responsibilities, I tend to shoot locally. The same trees, buildings, maybe in a different light or different films and cameras. That's fine but here was someone determined to capture his far-ranging fascination with place and people, traveling great distances every weekend in his little car. He was in his mid-twenties and determined to saturate his soul and film with his experiences. Those have now become a memory for him but we can read into the joy of the moment. He still takes pictures, albeit digitally. And they are still better than mine!

Looking at these photos, what are the similarities and differences between his style and yours?

Well, I guess most of his are landscapes, as are mine. But when he photographs people he really nails it. The lovers by the Seine in Paris; the Greek family enjoying Pascal lamb; the self-portrait of the handsome young man by the Renault Dauphine taking him to more places, more future memories. I wish I could instill that sense of humanity in my photos a bit more. I think he would like some of the images I have taken by the sea and in the Lake District. I must show him next time we meet.

Credits: cjf

If you were in his place during the 50s and 60s, where would you have wanted to travel and what scenes would you have wanted to capture?

If I were back in 1959 and 1960 I would be pleased to visit the places he went - France, Switzerland, Germany, and Greece. I might have tried to visit a few more cities, in particular Berlin. He was traveling in a period where the continent was still trying to pull itself from the shadows of war. One of the touching things about his images is that he was stationed in Germany undertaking national service in the military, finding beauty in some of the places with which we had previously been at war.

Lastly, is there anything you want to share with the rest of the community?

Just to thank all the friends I have made through this adventure. I have been moved by the interest and there are plenty of others who find joy and fascination in the depth of memory - recent or distant, lived or found - that this enduring and intense medium enables.

Credits: cjf

written by rocket_fries0036 on 2023-06-24 #culture #people #places #nature #street #landscape #water #portrait #slide-film #france #switzerland #germany-greece #lost-photography


  1. cjf
    cjf ·

    @klawe I think he was as surprised as me!

  2. mackiechartres
    mackiechartres ·

    I was already impressed to see the photos in your lomohome, and it was so interesting to follow you in your quest. To finally read the whole story is so touching! Thank you so much Chris to share it with us. 🥲👍📷

  3. leisuresuit
    leisuresuit ·

    Absolutely wonderful

  4. thehenrydemos
    thehenrydemos ·

    Beyond moving. Thank you @cjf for bringing this beautiful story to light. You carry this story with so much grace. This is an encouraging reminder to live to the fullest and try touch the world. Truly profound. I am in awe.

  5. papa-attila
    papa-attila ·


  6. mmstudiorec
    mmstudiorec ·

    Beautiful story. Congratulations Chris.

  7. hobbylinse
    hobbylinse ·

    Very interesting to learn the story behind the photos. And there really is a difference if you look at them with or without the knowledge of history. 👍

  8. lomo-elysion
    lomo-elysion ·

    Chris, this is a poetic story with very beautiful photos, lots of depth and sensitivity.
    It could be a story for a film script and in fact, it reminds me of the film "The Fabulous World of Amelie," where the young Nino Quincampoix collects photo snippets from photo booths and is on the trail of a recurring phantom image...until the riddle is solved at the end. The search and the solution to the riddle ultimately gives a new perspective when looking at these photos.

  9. polaroidlove
    polaroidlove ·

    Thankyou @cjf, that was a beautiful story.

  10. hervinsyah
    hervinsyah ·

    I have stalking consistently 🤭 Arbain Rambey, famous photographer in Indonesia who was retired from Kompas newspaper. He has this kind of hobby buying the old photo from the 2nd hand thing online reseller and he successfully found the owner of the old photo with the clue the situation of the city that not changed much. Remind me of myself at early year of my active year at lomography.com I uploaded almost all of my mom's 70s and 80s photo but in the end I decided to deleted it all since I felt it's not my work

  11. cjf
    cjf ·

    @thehenrydemos Thank you for your lovely and thoughtful comment. And thank you to ALL my friends here who have found joy in this. I am touched by how we all come together to share a little bit of our lives. I was pleased that the photographer was happy with the article and that his private story has been appreciated far and wide.

  12. stevejack0
    stevejack0 ·

    @cjf Epic! I'm so pleased to hear he now has copies of his slides. I've loved seeing them. Thank you
    @lomo-elysion I agree! A movie in the making!

  13. brine
    brine ·

    Wonderful pictures and story!!!

  14. fisheyemary
    fisheyemary ·

    You found him!! This is definitely very moving! Please give my greetings, doesn't matter that I don't know him!

  15. ketiluftwaaffe
    ketiluftwaaffe ·

    I like some of the shots so much that I feel like ending up at the same place and time.

  16. jeni3
    jeni3 ·

    Oh my Vivian Maier!! What a story.

  17. sylvann
    sylvann ·

    Bonfire photo reminded me of Dead Poets Society! What a story

  18. gump1950
    gump1950 ·

    I am a goodwill junkie . I Love that you posted this story , I reminds me that are so many of photographers that have something to say. Just wonderful

  19. an4
    an4 ·

    very nice journey with a very nice happy end,

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