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Lost But Not Forgotten| Rescued Film Project Saves Undeveloped WWII Photos

By Justin Heyes on January 25th 2015

It’s a little saddening to think that in 70 years someone will come across a lost hard drive and on it will contain files of our lives (if it’s still readable). We are coming to a point where an entire generation will not know what film is and will only have memories coded in 1s and 0s. The Rescued Film Project specializes in lost memories in what is almost considered a dead medium.

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Unlike other online archives where the pictures are already developed and have been shared, the Rescued Film Project specializes in undeveloped film. Someone at some point thought a particular moment was worth saving. Each frame is a memory meant to be shared in photo albums and hung on walls. “We believe that these images deserve to be seen, so that the photographer’s personal experiences can be shared. Forever marking their existence in history”, says Levi Bettweiser, founder of the Rescued Film Project.

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[REWIND:Kid’s React Hilariously To An Old Film Camera]

What started as an online archive gallery, The Rescued Film Project has salvaged priceless memories from being lost in time. The project obtains undeveloped rolls of film between the 1930s and the 1990s. In late 2014, Bettweiser came across an auction in Ohio of 31 rolls of film from WWII; the biggest cache undertaken as of yet.

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Though nothing is known of the soldier that took the pictures, some of the rolls were labeled with various locations like “Boston Harbor” and “Lucky Strike Beach;” a few were covered with handwritten letters and poems. Bettweiser speculates that one soldier that appears multiple times was the photographer. “They are all totally anonymous. We don’t know his name. He had a poem and a letter wrapped around a couple rolls of film, but that’s all we have,” explains Bettweiser.

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The nerve-wracking and time consuming process of developing the images takes place in Bettweiser’s kitchen. Careful handling was used on the rolls as each one was subjugated to 70 years of wear. Not all of the film was able to be rescued, but a good portion of the images remained.

World War II Film Discovered

If you recognize anyone in the images, let the Rescued film Project know so they may reconnect them with their lost, but not forgotten history. To see more from the project, check out their archive.

[Via PetaPixel]

CREDITS: All photographs by The Rescued Film Project are copyrighted and 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.

About

Justin Heyes wants to live in a world where we have near misses and absolute hits; great love and small disasters. Starting his career as a gaffer, he has done work for QVC and The Rachel Ray Show, but quickly fell in love with photography. When he’s not building arcade machines, you can find him at local flea markets or attending car shows.

Explore his photographic endeavors here.

Website: Justin Heyes
Instagram: @jheyesphoto

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Basit Zargar

    cool one

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  2. Ralph Hightower

    This is one reason why I’m worried about the future of photography. Everything is digital now. I work in the computer industry; I’ve seen file formats change, external storage media change from 5.25″ floppy disk to 3.5″, to CD, to DVD, to Blu-Ray. Who’s to say that a photo software or cloud storage company won’t go bankrupt.

    With film, chemistry is involved with a tangible media; but in this article, images from seventy years ago were recovered.

    I’ve been shooting film since 1980 and continue to do so, besides shooting digital since 2014.

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    • Matthew Saville

      Ralph, I understand your worry, however be careful not to confuse file formats with physical media. Sure, you might not be able to read a floppy disk from yesteryear, but a RAW file has never once suffered from out-dated un-readable-ness. It is in Adobe’s and many other’s best interests to continue offering support for any and every image file format that ever was, or ever will be. Or, the day they decide to just randomly stop supporting NEF files from the Nikon D800, we can all go into business together and get filthy rich offering a conversion service / software.

      Secondly, regarding physical hardware, I think it is pretty safe to say that the HDD format is here to stay. Even if the next thing comes along, the SATA port or some new backwards compatible version of it will always be connect-able, let alone USB external drives. We’re on USB 3.0, with 4.0 on the way, and there is still no sign of abandoning the original port form factor, at least not entirely.

      So really, the only major risk is the fact that magnetized disks do eventually fail, and that is something that is rapidly being dealt with by the affordability of cloud storage and long-term archiving.

      In other words, by the time your hard disks do fail, Amazon Glacier etc. and Carbonite etc. will be so affordable, you’ll have to be downright reckless and lazy to lose more than a few photos to corruption or physical failure.

      Just my hopeful thinking, of course! :-D

      =Matt=

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    • Ralph Hightower

      Matthew,
      I am worked in the computer industry long enough to experience changing file formats. Applications change, or killed off. Companies go bankrupt. No one can predict the future. Who knows, Photoshop and Lightroom may still be around 30 years later.

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  3. aaron febbo

    Probably one of the coolest stories I’ve heard in a while. Thats what i call timeless images absolutely beautiful !

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  4. Brandon Dewey

    Very cool!

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