Photographer’s Thrift Store Find Leads to Viral Internet Mystery

·Editor
image

Photo courtesy of Meagan Abell

Meagan Abell went thrift store hunting and now the whole internet is trying to unravel the mystery she stumbled upon. 

The Richmond, Va.-based photographer found four sets of slide film transparencies sitting in a box of vintage photos at a local thrift store. Fascinated by the medium format slides, which she guessed were taken in the ‘40s or ‘50s, Abell took them home.

A few weeks later, on July 29, Abell had the slides processed and was delighted to find a series of beautiful photos featuring two women on the beach. The soft, colorful images could be mistaken for paintings.

image

Photo courtesy of Meagan Abell

Curiosity took hold, and Abell posted the images on Facebook and shared them from her professional photography page.

“Now this is where I need the Internet’s help,” Abell wrote. “I would absolutely love to find the women in these photographs/the photographer who took them.”

Never ones to turn down a good sleuthing, the online masses quickly jumped into action. They used the hashtag #FindTheGirlsOnTheNegatives to spread the word.

image

Photo courtesy of Meagan Abell

“I always like to give credit where credit is due,” the photographer tells Yahoo Makers in a phone interview. “And these photos are so beautiful, I just want to know the stories behind them.”

Apparently, so does the rest of the world.

Abell expected her Facebook post to “maybe get a couple hundred shares.” As of this writing, it has over 15,000. Not to mention extensive coverage from media outlets including ABC News and the BBC.

Though the mystery has not yet been solved, the overwhelming attention has led to several promising leads.

Abell tells Yahoo Makers she has just contacted the women who brought the slides to the thrift store. She said they wished to stay out of the limelight and did not have much information on the images, other than they found the slides in the Shenandoah Valley.

“It’s two sisters, I will say that,” Abell tells Makers.

Now that she’s found the people who brought the negatives to the thrift store, Abell is one big step closer to solving the mystery.

image
image

Photos courtesy of  Meagan Abell

Abell believes the photos were taken on a beach in California, after several claims from online followers and a friend overlaid the transparencies on a picture she had taken from a very similar spot that matched “almost perfectly.”

image

Photo courtesy of Meagan Abell

She’s also spoken with expert photographers, including a veteran who is well-known in the local photography community. The discussions have led her to believe the photos were taken professionally.

“Because of the style, the photography and the composition as well as the format, it was definitely done by a professional,” she says. “By somebody who was very invested in creating something – not just taking a snapshot.”

image
image

Photos courtesy of Meagan Abell

The photographer is still following leads, and will be posting more photos from the film transparencies once they’re done being processed. Abell says that she couldn’t have done it without Richmond Camera, one of few places that still process medium format photography.

“If nothing else, I just thought I had some cool artwork for my apartment,” she jokes.

We’re just glad she didn’t turn them into a pegboard.

Let Yahoo Makers inspire you every day! Join us on FacebookTwitter, Instagram and Pinterest.