I was just writing about my collection of photographs and I realized I have another photo collection. Photographic negatives. It started back in 1999 when I discovered that I could buy old negatives on eBay. I bought some old 1960s medium format negatives of the backstage of a Paris burlesque show of some sort. Those negatives sat around for years. The story of which is here: http://radiantcomics.com/art-writing-paris-1964/

Since I bought those Paris negatives I sometimes look on eBay to see what other negatives I can find. The main idea is to find some old forgotten images that I can use to make something new out of. I love creating my own images when I make art but every now and then I like to make something out of someone else’s image. I even once found a negative being sold on eBay by the photographer hoping someone would do that very thing with his negatives. That was kind of cool. I made something and sent it to him.

That was the exception though rather than the rule. Most of the negatives for sale on eBay are not by the artists or photographers but by people who buy up lots of random things to sell on eBay. The vast majority of it is old pornography. Sure there are auctions that have random old family slides or negatives in them but they’re generally useless as far as I can see. At least I’m not willing to pay money to take a chance on them.

The old pornographic negatives are generally pretty useless too. At least as far as I can tell. The photos are of low quality and the imagery is dull. Just some random naked woman standing there not looking very interested in life. I bought a couple of lots of such negatives over the years hoping I could get something out of them. I picked the best ones I could find and got them for dirt cheap but I still haven’t ever done anything with them. That just sit on my hard drive unlooked at. I see four sets of negatives that fall into this category.

The best stuff I’ve found on eBay is stuff by “Name” photographers or models. I don’t actually know who these people are but some pin-up photographers and models are better known than the rest. I can see why. It’s usually collectors or dealers who sell this sort of stuff. The few pieces I’ve picked up have been fairly cheap. In this category prices can get high. I’ve seen a single negative go for a hundred or two hundred dollars. That’s rare but I guess there are collectors of vintage pin-up negatives and photos out there.

I’m good at organizing stuff and my hard drives are no exception. I know right where to find all the scans I’ve made of these negatives over the years. They’re in a folder called “Ebay Photos.” Pretty simple. The strange thing is all the stuff I’ve forgotten that’s in that folder. I haven’t worked on anything in it in what looks like three years. That’s a while. Let’s see what’s in there.

The first one on the list is one of my masked photos. Since I’m looking to transform these negatives into something new rather than just make prints of them one of the things I do is draw masks on the faces. In the case of this photo named “Amateur Big Butt” (probably what the auction was named) I also drew a mask on her butt. It’s tough to transform pornography into something else so masking her butt became my solution. I also see “Busty Brunette Studio Pose” is another photo I drew a mask on. This one is more of a fine art photo. There are also two “named” photos, Cathy Crawford and Cassandra Robinson that I drew masks on.

I have a single non-nude negative of the actress/model Mila Jovovich. I never did anything with it. I probably bought it because of her celebrity but never came up with an idea of how to use it. Probably because of her celebrity. It’s also not a great picture. Just an okay one.

One of the folders is named “Female Nude Figure Models” and has a bunch of scans in it. I looks like I started three photos that were supposed to go together that I don’t think I ever finished. It looks like I did a lot of work on them. They have masks draw for their faces and “Tattoos” for their arms. I wonder what I was up to with these? I’ve long forgotten.

There is a folder called “Four Negatives” from February 2020. I think these were the last negatives I bought. I scanned them in, cleaned them up, and then lost interest in them. I haven’t done any work on them since. I also see a “Harrison Marks UK Model” folder from 2017. Nice photo but I also never did anything with it. This one catches my eye right now though.

Next I have a folder named “James Schuckner Reference Photos.” It turns out he was an illustrator and he took photos to make his illustrations from. Pretty cool. They look almost like someone took photos of his photo session though. The model is always looking like she’s posing for another camera and not the one taking these photos. It’s a little bit weird.

The last folder is filled with negative scans of photos of a model named Rachel Wilson (whoever she is). I remember the “Exposure” menu in Photoshop helped me out a lot with these ones. They’re from back in 2014 and I had already been working in Photoshop for 20 years at that point but had somehow never used the Exposure menu much. That menu helps correct a photo when the exposure wasn’t quite right when the picture was taken. You can under or over expose the digital file to make it look better. I liked these photos and ended up using two of them to make masked photos out of.

One final note on the negatives and my use of them is that those masks were really hard to draw. I used to have a whole convoluted system for making them that always took more time than I thought they should. Then I got an Apple Pencil and iPad and they became a lot easier to draw. I’d draw the mask in Procreate right over the photo. Yet after a couple of those I lost interest. I’m not sure why. Now I feel like going back and revisiting my masked photos.