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News & Insight

Like A Nicholas Sparks Novel, Abandoned Photo Slides in NYC Uncover a Story of Life, Love, & Loss

By Shivani Reddy on July 17th 2016

What started off as an afternoon stroll through the bustling streets of Manhattan turned into a mission of mysterious wonder. New York Times Journalist Deborah Acosta stumbled upon a bounty of old Kodachrome photo slides sprawled across the concrete pavement near a trash can.


The young reporter immediately began a pseudo-documentary of her findings via Facebook Live, narrating as she held each trampled upon slide to the sky. Each image proved to be more puzzling than the next, having no connecting theme besides being beautiful photographs of disparate things.

Acosta, intrigued by these mysterious mementos, makes her way to the trash can to find any other clues that could lead to the owner of these slides. Meanwhile, commentators on Facebook add in their two cents, conveying their thoughts on the matter and possible theories.


After some sleuth detective work, Acosta tracked the slides back to a now deceased photographer, Mariana Gosnell. So why was, what appeared to be, a life’s work worth of stunning imagery tossed away like yesterday’s take-out? These fragments of a stranger’s life drew Acosta to delve deeper and deeper into the life of Mariana. They told a story of a passionate woman boundless in her own right, frozen in these photos from the past.


Commentators inundated Acosta’s live video feed as she unraveled the mystery picture by picture, uncovering parts of Mariana’s life adding more context to the case. In their search, they came across , a dear friend of Mariana’s, who immediately recognized the images once held into the light. This moment is a vivid reminder of how photos from the past can trigger a single memory and transport you in just a moment’s notice. The importance that printed images hold in a quickly evolving time of camera technology is the reason why storytellers like Fundy play such an important role in the present and future of our industry.



In the video below, Acosta untangles Mariana’s life through the existence of these photo slides, sharing that the photographer was “curious, passionate about passionate people, and found the beautiful in the mundane”. Find out how this story ends in Acosta’s New York Times feature:

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Shivani wants to live in a world where laughter is the cure to pretty much everything. Since she can’t claim “Serial Bingewatcher” as an occupation, she’ll settle for wedding/portrait photographer at Lin and Jirsa & marketing coordinator here at SLR Lounge. For those rare moments when you won’t find a camera in her hand, she will be dancing, eating a donut, or most likely watching Seinfeld.

Follow her on Instagram: @shivalry_inc

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Paul Wynn

    What an incredible story, just shows the power of imagery and social media! I always liked slide film, great quality.

    | | Edited