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Photographer Discovers Incredible Negatives in Thrift Shop, Needs Our Help

By Trevor Dayley on July 29th 2015

Many of us have read the stories in the past about shoppers discovering old negatives. One of these discovered treasures, for example, was the of the amazing collection from Vivian Maier. It’s fascinating when these old negatives are found, scanned and come alive in prints. It’s then very special to watch as the internet comes alive to help find those people in the prints and return the images back to them or if possible to the original photographer. One such hunt is now underway.


Photographer Meagan ‘Irene’ Abell recently discovered four sets of medium format negatives while thrift shopping in Richmond, VA. They were sitting inside a box of some vintage photos preserved in plastic sleeves. Meagan was able to scan the negatives, and the images they produced were truly stunning.

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When Meagan inquired with the owner of the Thrift Store to see if she knew who might have dropped the box off, the owner had no idea. So now Meagan needs our help to find the subjects in the photos or the original photographer. From the looks of the images, it appears that they were shot around the 1940’s-1950’s. There are two subjects in the negatives but shot at different times which makes her wonder if maybe the two ladies were photographing one another.

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A hashtag has been set up to help organize any leads or clues that might help Meagan with more information. Please share the story and any information that will assist Meagan along with the hashtag #FindTheGirlsOnTheNegatives. Looking forward to following Meagan’s story and hope we can all lend our support to her in this exciting hunt to find the models and photographer beyond these gorgeous images.

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CREDITS: Photographs have been used with permission for SLR Lounge. Do not copy, modify or re-post this article or images without express permission from SLR Lounge and the artist.

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Trevor Dayley is a full-time wedding photographer based out of Arizona. He has six kids and has been married for 15 years. When he is not shooting weddings, he loves helping the photo industry. He has written hundreds of articles and shared countless tutorials. In 2014, he was named one of the Top 30 Most Influential Photographers in the Industry and one of the Top 100 Wedding Photographers by BrandSmash.

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Tina Church

    I don’t know where they are from but I did write a piece for my blog and included this photograph a year or so ago. I am a writer out of New England .This is that piece including the photograph.

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  2. Neil Holloman

    Pretty cool window into the past. My thoughts immediately go to non-photographic things like “I bet the air quality there was so much better than it is today”. or “I bet the water isn’t nearly as polluted as it is now”. It’s also interesting to look at the dress and see how clothing looked at the time too. On the photographic side of things, the technique is definitely there. As for the emotion/meaning of the photos…. It certainly leaves a lot to the imagination. Suicide? Nostalgia? Hot day? I can’t believe the boat left me behind?!? My vote is that these negatives are a truly great discovery.

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  3. Gabriel Rodriguez

    Pretty cool shots..

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  4. Lee Hughes


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  5. William McEwen

    And my wife thinks I’m crazy when I go to estate sales and look through boxes and boxes of negatives…

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  6. Bill Bentley

    Okay Jack, you win. The images are stunning. I hope they get framed and displayed in a gallery somewhere in Europe and whomever owns the rights to them collects millions of dollars.

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    • Lee Hughes

      What a bitter old fool you make yourself out to be.

      Given the estimated date of creation of these STUNNING photographs, surely even someone as wrapped up in the dark side as you seem to be, can appreciate the athletic, compositional skill in these of shots?

      * an open, well fed and nurished mind will always overcome the negative and malnourished

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  7. Bill Bentley

    @ Jack. I couldn’t care less if I make a penny with my photography. The photos are NOT stunning. That word stunning gets OVERUSED every day. They are pictures of women standing as statues on the beach in front of some nice skies. Big whoop. They look like they are contemplating suicide. Anyways beauty is in the eye of the beholder. You love them and I don’t. The thrift shop comment was sarcasm by the way. :-/

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    • Jack Yaholo

      Hard to detect sarcasm when it’s surrounded by cynicism dripping with negativity. The photos ARE stunning. If they’re not your thing, I’m not sure why you felt the need to comment. You obviously can’t offer the photographer constructive criticism, so what’s your motive? A personal crusade against people enjoying things that you deem unworthy? Seems legit.

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    • Wilburn III

      They’re pretty good but by the standards of the 1950 and earlier, they’re extremely
      Beautiful and stunning.

      Ever shift through vintage photographs? The horror, the horror…..

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  8. Tom Blair

    Call me weird but i like the dress length and the style. Great job on the photos

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  9. Bill Bentley

    Sorry, but if these are considered “stunning” then I should be making a fortune in photography. They aren’t and I’m not. I think there is a good reason they were found in a thrift shop. The maker wasn’t too happy with the results.

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    • Jack Yaholo

      Oh Bill, there’s so much wrong with your comment, it’s hard to know where to begin.

      1) I love how you state your opinion as fact: “They aren’t”. I think they are, and obviously so do others.

      2) You seem to have an unfounded premise that anyone who makes “stunning” photography should be “making a fortune”. The two things often are not related.

      3) There are a lot of reasons why something ends up in a thrift shop, and it’s not uncommon that something in a thrift shop ends up being valuable. Your presumptions say more about you than about the situation.

      4) Perhaps your inability to see the beauty in these photos is related to the fact that you are not making a fortune in photography. Maybe you just have bad taste.


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  10. Samuel Sandoval

    Let me guess, no EXIF data? :P

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  11. Andre Queree

    Some lovely shots and a mystery too! :)

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