Unboxing the Past


A lifetime of memories on it could fit into a shoebox.

There was a Fotomat in most shopping center parking lots.

Ahhh, analog…

Flash forward to 2012.

I was working on a project in my garage when a FedEx truck backed up to the door. “Mr. Hawkins, where do you want ’em?” The unexpected “them” was nine bankers boxes – Second Day FedEx Air from Paris. As I signed the airbill – it wasn’t collect – I checked carefully. The customs label said PHOTOGRAPHS. As I began to open the boxes, I realized that there were no prints – just negatives and transparencies – one hundred and ninety seven pounds of negs and chromes.

It was a “moment” that lasted for several weeks. Many of the TIME assignment/caption envelopes contained negatives that I hadn’t seen since I shot it decades ago.

There were images of war and politicians, of the onion domes of the old Soviet Union and the children of VietNam, a priest I’d known who is now in line for sainthood and a death row story with men long since executed.

When you worked for a magazine and had an agency partner – in my case SYGMA – many times the photographs would be run in domestic and international publications for a week or two and then filed for posterity.

Unless there were tearsheets sent, you forgot a lot of those “1/125th moments”.

It was like reacquainting with some old friends…and some not so good memories.

A 197 lbs. of memories.

So I’m thinking “this is great! I’ll just scan them and get them into an online archive!”

Two years later, I’m still editing, scanning, spotting and captioning and I’ve now created an ecommerce online picture licensing archive at http://www.KenHawkinsPictures.com .

Photo editors and buyers can search an ever expanding library of imagery from 1970 to the present, license photos without having to talk with an agency salesperson or for that matter – ever leaving the site. Once our licensing and usage form has been completed, and the online invoice paid via credit card – a high resolution download is available.

I’ll be posting stories and imagery from the past and present and I hope you’ll find them interesting.


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