A Collector Was Deluged With 400,000 Anonymous Family Photos And The Results Are Stunning

“Life, often unstaged, caught in lush Kodachrome color."

When Lee Shulman started The Anonymous Project to catalog American life over the past century, he expected to get a treasure trove of family photos. But he wasn't expecting to be inundated with 400,000 images — some of which dating back to the early 1940s.

Still, it seems this collector and filmmaker couldn't be more thrilled to be preserving so many slices of retro life for future generations. 



"Life, often unstaged, caught in lush Kodachrome color," the project's website raves. "These amateur photographs are a kaleidoscopic diary of that era, all the more fascinating and arresting because of their unpolished quality … Often these amateur photos are technically imperfect — like life itself — and all the more compelling because of their imperfections."

The subjects and the sources of the photos are all anonymous, Shulman says, because their identities aren't relevant. Instead, we can just focus on the stories they tell.

"We're not really trying to say anything about the people themselves but more about the experiences," Shulman tells BBC News. "There's a couple kissing, and there's a couple sharing a meal, and it's the same couple, actually, three times over. And we received this amazing box, and we open it, and this box was just a box about this passionate relationship between this couple."

As much as Shulman appreciates the Kodachrome format — the "HD of its time," he calls it — he's grateful digital technology gives him a chance to save these candid images before they fade into obscurity. "Giving a second life to these photos is really really important," he says.

See more photos from The Anonymous Project below:

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