On Wednesday night, Richmond photographer Meagan Abell posted a set of astounding film photos on Facebook, writing:

Okay so here’s the lowdown. I found 4 sets of medium format negatives while I was thrift shop hunting a few weeks ago. They were sitting in a box of old vintage photographs in these plastic sleeves, and from what I could tell, they had been taken sometime in the 50’s. So obviously I brought them home, and today finally had them scanned in, and holy wow they are beautiful!!

NOW this is where I need the Internet’s help. I would absolutely love to find the women in these photographs/the photographer who took them. The only info I have is that the negatives were found in a thrift store on Hull St in Richmond, VA. They are medium format, and judging by the style of dress, made in 1940-1950. The owner of the thrift store had no idea where they came from. I’m posting the best/clearest scans of the images, so if y’all could share this around, HOPEFULLY we can make it go viral and find the original photographer/subjects!!!!

Well, sure, why not? Let’s #FindTheGirlsOnTheNegatives.

There are two different women, and they mostly keep their faces turned away, towards the horizon, but—unless this is viral marketing for a psychological horror movie in which they turn around and their faces open up portals to the heat death of the universe OR the origin story of such a horror movie to come, typed the blogger, her capacity for wonder permanently disabled by late-stage mechanical reproduction—they are both straightforwardly, profoundly gorgeous. There’s a dark blonde, willow-shouldered in a pale blue shirtdress with a red tie around her waist:

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And there’s a blonde woman, pin-curled in a red (polka-dotted) version of the same.

But the most beautiful thing about this photo set isn’t the women—it’s where they are, what is saturating them, the alchemical earthbound psychedelia of where the light and water meet. These photos were taken at a moment when day and night were slipping into each other, but this moment, simultaneously heavy and weightless, seems paralyzingly total, and it gets to live that way here:

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So—is this your mother? Your grandmother? Can you find the girls on the negatives? Is this a mystery whose resolution will end in a marketing campaign for The Notebook 2: More Notebooks? Area Blogger Unable to Sustain Secondhand Awe Without Suspicion, next up on your shitty local news.


Contact the author at jia@jezebel.com.

Images via Meagan Bell/FacebookB