Find the Girls on the Negatives: Searching for the Origins of Stunning Photos Found in a Thrift Store

Six years ago, one man purchased a box of old negatives and sparked an online hunt that would eventually shed light on former nanny Vivian Maier, one of the greatest street photographers of the century. Now, a similar search is unfolding, thanks to a series of mysterious negatives recently discovered in a thrift store.

While thrift shopping in Richmond, Virginia a few weeks ago, photographer Meagan Abell came across four sets of medium-format negatives encased in plastic sleeves and sitting in a box of old vintage photographs. Curious about the images, Abell bought the negatives, took them home, and scanned them. The stunning results, which she posted on Facebook yesterday, show two young women standing on a seashore, bathed in the dreamy, rosy light of the setting sun.

The owner of the Hull St. thrift store that Abell found the negatives in has no idea where they came from, so the Richmond resident has requested the help of the internet to find the subjects of the images as well as the photographer. Judging from the style of dress, Abell is guessing that the photos were taken in the 1940s or 1950s, and it’s possible that the two women took turns photographing each other. The film is most likely 60mm, and may be Kodachrome. Beyond that, there’s no other known information.

Internet sleuths are already taking a crack at identifying the location of the photos. A common conjecture is that they were shot somewhere along the coast in California. One commenter, Louann Walker, said, “This definitely looks like the California coast! Just a guess but it’s possible this was after the war near one of the bases where a soldier was stationed. That could be an explanation for it later ending up on the East coast.” Others chimed in with suggestions of San Diego, Baja California, and the coast around Ventura and Santa Barbara.

Abell encourages supportive netizens to share the photos using the hashtag #?FindTheGirlsOnTheNegatives?. Hopefully, the viral hunt will reveal information on the origins of the beautiful images. If you have any information, please leave it in the comments.

While the negatives would ordinarily reveal the film stock, these negatives were trimmed and have no identifying markings.

Meagan Abell’s post on Facebook