Photographer Shirin Marshall has been hunting and collecting old undeveloped rolls of film, sourced everywhere from thrift stores, vacant estates and camera collectors as part of a project called The Lost Exposures. So far she has collected 31 rolls – some dating as far back as the 1930’s. We chat to Shirin about glimpsing into other people’s memories and unraveling the stories they tell.
Can you tell us about your project Lost Exposures?
The project involves finding and developing old rolls of photographic film to unravel the stories they tell.
Chicago historic preservationist John Maloof discovered a trove of negatives and uncovered the incredible work of Vivian Maier. Did this inspire your work on Lost Exposures? What lead you to do this project?
I saw Maier’s work in the process of my project, which certainly fuelled more excitement and curiosity! The journey began when I bought an old camera from a second-hand store one day and noticed a film roll still in it.
Do you have a selection process for how to choose the negatives you develop?
I’m drawn to any image that tells a story or is compositionally interesting to look at.
I read you’ve developed film taken from as far back as the 1930’s – have you noticed or thought about the difference in people from then to now?
The people certainly dress differently but there is a timelessness about their behaviour, their expressions, their connection to family and their sense of place and their desire to document and preserve memories.
Do you ever try to trace the people in the photos to find out the story behind them? I can imagine some would be very emotional to see them!
Not yet, but it’s certainly something I would be interested in doing!
Do you have a favourite photograph?
Yes, There’s one photograph that appears to be after the second world war with one building standing on its own in a desolate landscape with a solitary man walking in the distance. There is something so intriguing and mysterious about the photograph.
Will you be exhibiting the Lost Exposures collection?
Yes, I plan to exhibit in 2018.
Discover more of Shirin’s work here