Shirin Marshall & The Lost Exposures Project
Photographer Shirin Marshall’s The Lost Exposures project all started thanks to one old camera. “I bought an old camera from a second-hand store one day and noticed a film roll still in it,” says Marshall. “That’s where the journey began.” What was on this mysterious roll? Whose was it? From that point on she’s been hunting and collecting old used film rolls and has so far collected 31 undeveloped vintage rolls/cassettes that date as far back as the 1930s. Marshall says, “On the 29th January 2014, I had them shipped to a Canadian photo lab called Film Rescue International, who specialise in developing virtually all obsolete and expired analogue film – salvaging images from even some of the most weathered and damaged rolls. The wait was spellbinding, and at times painful. On the 22nd March 2014, I received the first negatives.”
A glimpse into other people’s memories, homelands and family portraits, the viewer is left to make up their own narrative to these at times serene, sometimes strikingly beautiful and at other times wonky black and white snapshots. We chat to Marshall about it all…
Where did you buy your first roll and what did it have on it?
I bought my first roll on eBay which appeared to feature post-World War II images of Denmark.
What’s your favourite photo from one of the rolls?
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 one man on his own walking in the distance. There is something so intriguing and mysterious about the photograph.
What have the film rolls been able to reveal about people/everyday life?
The importance of family and a sense of place. The desire to document life and preserve memories.
Do you prefer to work with film or digital cameras?
I prefer the magic of analogue photography but I tend to shoot more with digital cameras these days for its convenience.
How do you know how old the film is?
I ask the lab that processes the film for me.
What do you plan to do with the photographs?
I will be exhibiting some of them as large prints in 2018.
Do you collect anything else?
Yes, cameras and notebooks.
What got you first interested in photography?
I have always been interested in documenting the world around me since I was a child, and creating images that evoke a response in others. Professionally, I began to take it more seriously at uni when I was able to witness the magic of developing my own photographs in the darkroom.
What do you enjoy taking photographs of?
People, buildings, landscapes, abandoned houses, everything.
What’s your favourite part of the photography process?
When shooting film, it’s watching a photograph come to life within the grasp of your hands. There is also something so intimate about shooting the world through the camera lens. For a moment, it’s just you and the world.
And your least favourite?
It can sometimes take a while to capture what it is you are envisioning. It takes patience.
How does Australia influence your work?
I feel like the contemporary arts scene is really beginning to emerge in Australia. There is so much interesting work coming out of this country and it’s so exciting to be a part of that.
What make your heart sing?
A beautiful photograph, a good piece of music, people I love.
What leaves you speechless?
A powerful photograph, Europe in winter.