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Like other snapshot collectors, the psychology student devotedly scours flea markets, estate sales, and the internet in search of her quarry.
She sifts through the discarded memories of other people’s lives in order to find images that are personally significant.“At the time, I thought it was purely aesthetic. “It was just recently that I realized how precisely that theme corresponded to a major crisis in my life: destruction, danger, inevitability, tension built up over many years.
Scattered facts like these and the volumes that Ahmad owns are perhaps all that remains of one man’s life.
For Walker, that kind of impermanence is something she experiences in her own life as well. Today I am me, and tomorrow I'll wake up as someone else.
Sometimes, it almost feels like I can whisper back.”* * *The origins of snapshot collecting are unclear, however, as a collector myself, judging by price increases of old photographs at flea markets and online, the phenomenon is growing rapidly.
The 70-year-old has published several books of found photographs, displaying them in pairs intended to evoke specific connections between disparate subjects: a prisoner and a baby, kids with toy guns and a wounded soldier, a woman in a hijab, and a woman in a catcher’s mask.
Among these, as among all snapshots, there is a broader connection too.
“The photographs have lost their original meanings,” veteran collector Joel Rotenberg said.
“Now they have room for the meanings we give them.”Still, remnants of original meaning persevere, in a scribbled note on the back of the picture, perhaps—a name, a date, a place, or even a personal reflection.
Everyone except the man in the back row, second from the right.