'Other People's Pictures'

Film Examines Discarded Snapshots and their Collectors

A woman smiling through a glass ball. Courtesy Peter Cohen hide caption

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itoggle caption Courtesy Peter Cohen

At New York's Chelsea Flea Market, collectors sort through boxes and albums full of discarded snapshots: a black-and-white photo of a yawning girl, a Polaroid of a couple embracing at the kitchen table, a yellowed print of a group of Nazis smiling in the snow. Kaleidoscopic slices of life, these abandoned photos can sometimes bring in hundreds of dollars a piece.

Other People's Pictures, a new documentary from filmmakers Lorca Shepperd and Cabot Philbrick, examines the lives and minds of nine people who collect these lost and discarded photographs. One man searches only for "male affection" snapshots of men embracing or holding hands. Another looks for pictures that simply tell an unfinished story. An Israeli immigrant who lost family members in the Holocaust and whose own family album was destroyed years ago, owns what he calls a "banality of evil" collection: photos of Nazis in everyday situations.

NPR's Andrea Seabrook speaks to Shepperd and Philbrick about their film and the people obsessed with the snapshots of strangers.

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