BRONWEN HEALY PHOTOGRAPHY

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05 February 2013

Postscript...

For some reason my mind is still swirling on the subject of photographers, their work, and their legacies.  Tonight I am sitting on my own, with my own glass of wine, now that the kids are quiet in bed.  Because my mind has been busy with the subject, I pulled out my Jacques Lowe "Remembering Jack" book, and, on my own, began to re-read the chapter titled "The Lost Negatives" by Thomasina Lowe (Jacque's daughter).  

She wrote this:

"Countless times I had heard people tell my father where they were when JFK died, their recollections an expression of how deeply they had been affected by their president's death.  Four decades later, two tragic moments in American history intersected for me in a very personal way.  Deep within the rubble of what used to be the World Trade Center sat a safe filled with more than 40,000 negatives of President John F. Kennedy and his family.  Those slips of film were my father's life work, each one a reminder of an era when, as my father often said "people still believed in something'.
There are no words to describe how attached my father was to his Kennedy negtives.  They defined who he was as a person and as a photographer.... Those images were priceless, their value beyond calculation.  So he stored them in a fireproof bank vault in the World Trade Center".  "In his cautiousness, however, he could not have foreseen 9/11.  And not even that fortified safe tucked in a vault could protect his work from the inferno that raged within the World Trade Center".  "In early 2002, the bank called.  'your safe has been found'.  I went to claim it, clinging to the hope that some contents - anything - might have been rescued.  To my surprise and horror, what I found was a safe, surrealistically intact, with its door open and a symmetrical hole where the lock had been.  I peered in.  It was empty".
I mention that it was not a complete loss, as Lowe had kept all the proof sheets and there were a large number of prints already taken from some of the negatives, and due to advances in scanning technology they were able to retrieve some of the work.  But nothing can ever, ever, compensate for the loss of those precious original negatives.


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