Since the very beginning of my life, I grew up with photographs. Not really snapshots, but photographs in the house. When I was four, I remember a photo my dad had printed of me in a white cabled turtleneck in our kitchen in Virginia – holding a spoon, which is interesting considering one of my other passions is food. So, photos were always of a higher quality or aesthetic level than just snapshots. My grandfather had a darkroom in his basement in the 50s and produced these great custom Christmas cards – something else I grew up with (and wish I had saved). When I hit the sixth grade my best friend’s family had a similar aesthetic and love of photography and I remember starting to enjoy the feel of a camera in my hands. Enjoyed cranking film through a camera and spending time in the darkroom watching images come up under the safelights.
When I look at the photos in the archives of the New York Times or an institution like the Museum of the City of New York, I connect to the man or woman who did those things – held the camera, wound the film and spent that time in the darkroom. Photography has been a constant in my life since the very beginning, so that’s what brought me to Archivast – and to a dinner in Brooklyn last summer with a friend in the media business.
We were chatting about the extinction of traditional newspapers and along with them the merciless trashing of their old photography slides and images. It got me thinking about the scale of these newspaper’s photo archives and the fact there must be ‘some’ art in there along with the 100s of 1000s of forgotten news photos – and it was in danger of being lost forever. Archives cost the papers money and with revenues going south, it's frequently something that is shed in the name of cost-cutting.
I began once again thinking about connections, about who was taking those photos, who the photographers were at a paper like the NY Times, and then at smaller papers. People who were passionate about telling a story with the camera – I realized there must be art in these archives if you just spent time digging for it. You might have to do a lot of digging I thought, but I knew it was worth doing, there were images that needed to be rescued and deserved to be given a new lease of life by being exposed to the world on our site, at our pop-up galleries, but most importantly as art in people's lives.