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Photo Finish?

Photo Finish?

Wednesday, November 25th, 2009

In a previous post I wrote about the hundreds of photos in my basement and pondered what will one day become of them.

Now, the same question applies to some 30 years worth of photo prints, most of them black and white, that have accumulated in The Jewish Week’s office. The office manager wants to be rid of them to make more room. To me, it’s akin to forgetting history.

The majority of the archive consists of licensed prints from photo agencies, or headshots of people who are dead or irrelevent now. But there are inevitably some hidden gems. Just at the top of the pile I found some shots of a young Wolf Blitzer from the days he was a Jerusalem Post reporter, when CNN wasn’t even anyone’s dream.

I tried to get the Center for Jewish History interested in the collection. Their representative determined it was useless to them because of all the copyrighted material that couldn’t be resold. These prints are from a bygone era in which they had to be reshot by a Velox machine and fixed to a page. These days the image is downloaded, inserted into an InDesign document and then PDFed to the printer. The actual photo never touches anyone’s hands.

But there was a time when those dusty old file cabinets were a centerpiece of the production operation, and staff writers and editors would spend much of their deadline time sorting through them looking for a suitable shot to bring an article to life.

So the archive is as much a part of history as the events and people they depict. Maybe I’m overly sentimental. But I think it would be a tragedy if ended up as landfill.

Know anyone who is interested? Email me at

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