Lauren Walsh, Editor, America discussed on B&H Photography Podcast
Honey, a Balkan war journal Afghanistan, the road to Kabul and Haiti twelve January two thousand. Ten his most recent book lost roles led to the project. We're going to be discussing today lost roles America. Lauren Walsh, should we also had the pleasure of speaking with it photo Ville is a writer and professor at both the new school and NYU. We, she's the director of the gallatin schools. Photo journalism lab Lauren is the editor of Macondo a photo book, documenting the long-term conflict in Colombia and co editor of the collection, the future of text and image. She's also the co editor of the millennium villages project of photography book on efforts to relieve extreme poverty, and sub Saharan Africa her latest book conversations on conflict, photography examines, the value of documenting war, and humanitarian crisis in the contemporary moment. She's also currently co directing with Rana Vive biography of a photo, a documentary film about two iconic images of conflict that have shaped the course of history. Welcome, lauren. Welcome Ron great to see you. Is again, like earned having us this project. We were talking just before the show started up, we've been reviewing it lately, and it's more than just pictures from rolls of film that people have finding it's an incredible insight into people's connection to photography. Before we start talking back bring us up to date about how this project started with two hundred rolls of film, and how it got to where it is today. Well, it started actually with a conversation with Dan Milner, a photographer, large in amazing expert on photography who works with blurb, the on demand publishing covering and blurb had just come out with new technology to do on traditional press photo books, and they were looking for people to work with to show how great the quality of these books were sedan came me today. Do you have an idea for a book, and I kinda thought about it, and we're kind of batted around snidey as and I said, you know, Dan, I've got, like thirty forty rolls of film in. A ziplock bag in my studio that I shot I don't really know what's on it. Maybe we should take a look at that. And said, sure, you know, we'll pay for the processing, which is obviously expensive, especially for freelance photographer, like myself. So I was like, okay great. It was sent off the film, and we got the pictures back, and it was like, oh, this is kind of interesting. It was a mix of personal and professional and sedan is kind of interesting. You know, I have another sixty seventy rolls of film. Okay. Come on. Let's let's do that one. We did that in law, this really getting interesting. So, Dan, you know, I have another hundred rolls that I found kind of basically going through my studio, and finding bags where former assistant to sort of talk them into filing cabinets and so on stuff. I didn't even know where it was collected as much as I could find and we processed all the film. And what kind of started out is one, a exercise, just get film developed, and then to kind of all of this could be come a gimmicky kind of thing all of a sudden turned into something much more serious. And as Dan and I started to look at the work as kind of came across and started to answer the question me about some of the photographs which were connected, of course, to my life about my memory, what I remembered, what I didn't remember and how we were looking at a number of the images had actual physical mold on it, and color shifts. And it was it was a mix of everything from processing. Coda chrome. In the black and white process lab to color nag to slide film that, you know, the greens shifted, and so on and, and other stuff like black and white film, Triax came out, like the shot twenty years ago, it was perfect, and that those sort of changes on the decoration, the film, started to mirror, my all sort of degradation my memory as I'm getting older. I was starting to realize that I wasn't remembering everything, and I was starting to look at photographs, and I would not know where these photographs were taken, I knew people were, I know what was happening and one of the things for throughout my career having documented, so many historical moments from nineteen eighty nine till present that people would often come to me and say, do you have a diary, or do you take notes and say, like, no, I don't because I know that whenever I look at a photograph I can tell you what's happening in that for rap what happened before. What happened after insanely couldn't I realized by not having? That connection of processing, the film within a certain period of time after shooting it, I lost that that bond between or the meta data creation. I lost it and this became one very disconcerting to me, again, kind of talking about my own kind of memory, but also the, the fascinating kind of exploration, and there were also like all of a sudden photographs, kind of appearing, all of a sudden of, of great friend allies on Boola, who was one of the founders with me at seven, who passed away a few years ago, and all of a sudden, she pops up on the screen at a wedding, and it was like all of a sudden these like bitter sweet like I'm so happy to see her she's smiling. She looks beautiful, but at the same time kind of ignoring the loss of a friend, or there was another series of photographs of these people middle-aged couple or maybe a little bit older. Looking at me, like I'm family. It was a kind of one of those family pictures. I had no idea who they were I went around to my family. Nobody else. Who, who they are to this day? And no idea why these people are on my phone, and then I wasn't your and it was your film, though. It was yes because there were other images on that role. I recognize but not right. Were there any chance that there would have been an incredibly important photograph in any of these films? I mean so, so happens a word on there were a few photographs primarily because, basically, I guess people the first questions people as a professional photographer. How did you wind up with so many roles that you never do out and actually cheesy? But also just to explain it, so basically. That's two hundred rolls of film is from twenty five years. Right. So you're talking about less than ten roles a year and what actually happened was, especially in the beginning of my career where was so expensive to process. I would go and shoot something on spec. Then I would pitch it and if nobody was interested, I would just put the rolls aside and said later, when I have money, I'll develop it, and they never happened. And then as I got more successful, I would say off to incitement for the New York Times, magazine and Kathy Ryan and say, okay, we want to shoot it this way in colored, I would doubt put all the energy into that. But it also have a two and a quarter black and white camera just to shoot gave her an option. And sometimes the editor weather's Kathy somebody else will say, yeah, we'll process it and other times it say now we're not really interested in also kind of put it aside. Or now, I know this is like again going way back to the days of film. But there were times when you're shooting in advance in New York, you're inside shooting, a press conference, you're shooting, tungsten, three twenty and all of a sudden you have to run outside. You've only shot five frames on that role. You rewind. I'll shoot it later, you put it in the bag. Then you go to the airport five times, you realize, oh, that we'll film is still there. I'm not going to give that to anybody put that aside. So it was kind of all these mix of different things and then stuff of my family or, or girlfriends, or so on kind of all getting kind of mixed up into pile, so that eventually winds up into this amalgamation of a lot of roles and kind of these little snippets of, of my life. And it was so this, this book, the loss roles became the sort of fascinating conversation about memory about the end of the analog error about my own life and the first thing that. This sort of conversation on the bigger picture was asked Loren Loren. I had met, we, she interviewed me for her book conversations on conflict photography in Lawrence, an expert, a memory and photography. So I asked her to write one of the essays in the book the book was published, and they went out on this book tour. And as I traveled around the United States, I would ask people who here has a roll of film undeveloped, in undeveloped, roll of film, that's exposed sitting in the camera box and almost always more than fifty percent of the audience would raise their hand and say, I don't know what to do with it. The phone amount is gone. I have no idea what to do this film, or there's no place to do it. Or we just put it aside and start shooting where their iphone or whatever or before that the instamatic. So there are all these different variations of things that replaced kind of traditional negative film shooting, and at that point, I was like, wait a minute. This is really interesting in that I started to hear stories like one friend of mine came to me and said. My father just passed away. My sisters went to the house to start cleaning up in he arrived, a day later or something like that. And he asked him like, what did you guys do they, and they said, oh, yeah. We found a bunch of film will obviously, there's nothing to do with it of film, so we threw them away. Oh. And that's not an unusual story that people think like this is basically useless that are start throwing away their film and all sudden it's like, wait a minute. This could be a real opportunity, a call to action like to save these memories that are locked away. Exactly, like what happened with me. So basically that was the sort of the birth of loss, roles America, and then basically asking Lauren to get involved in Robert peacock on to get involved on. We decided to expand this and most importantly, we brought Fuji film America on board who are processing scanning the film, free. I mean, this is all for free, and then we're cricketing to crack otherwise. Major piece. So this is a huge part. In Lauren talk a little bit more about the value of this public archive because it's pretty it's pretty unique. I think one fast question I do have you when you start asking people if they had rules of film is about fifty percent of the audience would have film ranges, from Eleni all to up. Okay. So there'd be millennials who's like when they were fifteen were given a camera and shot it. And then just toss it aside to what percentage of these people said, I don't even know it's on this role compared to people said, you know, I have is film. I know it's on it, but I never developed any idea what the ratio between unknown mysteries. And I'd say the majority did not know what they say. I'm really not sure what's on new based on what I read in the archive description. Okay. So just immediately put out, which is obviously the first the next question, somebody will ask is, I don't want you looking at my. So we set up a system, another important partner in the project is photo shelter, and so what photos, the film gets scanned at CRC labs here. New York sent over to photo shelter to secure website that only the viewer can see viewer then chooses. The one one or two images are right about they can download the scans the negatives again. Then get returned to them. And basically, we don't we don't go and look at the work is completely Mitch determined by by the so you haven't used that you end up keeping with it. They ended up donating to the project who owns those pictures. Is it a shared copyright, you own them how we have the rights to use the photographs it's part of the agreement? Okay. Submit to use the photographs in relationship to anything connected to loss roles America. Gotcha. But we can't I can't go and give the extra Getty or sell it to coke Farren. I would immediately goes, I'm a photographer. I'm obviously. The Tigers and you don't take a look at the, the other the only they choose the ones they want and the rest are unknown to you guys pretty and how do you feel about that aspect of it? And wondering as a photographer and editor, whoever, you know what if there's something much better on that role and what's more interesting or that's of no concern? It's really their memories and there, it's a power of that archive and learn go more into it. It's exactly what it is. I think it's a different way of thinking about what is better or best when it comes to Darby, it's not about the composition, or the visual per se. But it's, it's the combination between what you're looking at and the, the memories in stories if people decide to share..