After a post here a few
weeks ago here about the new Found Magazine book, Found co-creator
Jason Bitner sent me a copy of his new book, LaPorte, Indiana.
I was excited, since I've been obsessed with found photos since
college, when I found a box of family photos from the 1890s-1970s at a
thrift store in Ybor City, Florida. Since then, I've collected about
200 (including a pendant that I wear on a necklace of a little boy from
the 70's I call "Chip.") Hopefully I'll get to share some of them here
during my guest blogging tenure.
Anyway, the story behind LaPorte, Indiana is this: a few years
ago, Jason Bitner discovered a treasure trove of over 18,000 portrait
proofs leftover from a portrait studio that served the citizens of
LaPorte in the 50's and 60's. He went through them and chose his
favorites and made them into a book.
When I first got the book last week I was rushing to the subway.
As I walked I flipped through it and was surprised to see that aside
from the foreward and Jason's brief background story in the front of
the book, the rest was just the photos. It just seemed so...simple.
But I got on the crowded train at rush hour and found a seat and
started from the beginning. Within about a minute, I was frantically
searching my bag for a tissue for the tears streaming down my face. I
felt exactly the way I did the first time I opened my first box of
found photos - there's something extraordinary about the cumulative
effect of all these faces of real people whose lives are (probably)
over. The Smiths song "Cemetary Gates" started going through my head:
"All those people, all those lives, where are they now? With loves, and
hates and passions just like mine, they were born and then they lived
and then they died."
I don't want to over-describe it because I think each person will
take something different away from this book, but it's an experience -
looking at these people's faces you see the inherent dignity of every
person who has ever lived or ever will live on earth. (How's that for
some heavy praise?)
You can see some of the photos here,
but I highly recommend sitting down with the book and getting the full
experience. Book report ending in 3...2...1: just don't try to read it
on the subway!