Found Photos
November 11, 2007 10:36 PM   Subscribe

Man comments on Flickr photos he discarded in an alley dumpster 30 years ago. Vietnam 1967-1968: Darrell Hill, Photographer
posted by thisisdrew (28 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
Fantastic. These sorts of discoveries and reconnections are, well, so much of what makes the internet a great thing.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 10:58 PM on November 11, 2007

[this is good]
posted by Rumple at 11:02 PM on November 11, 2007

I had boxes and boxes of slides, photos etc. I had all this stuff in storage for years and upon moving decided it was time to move on and get rid of it. I tossed all the slides and numbers of photos in a dumpster by the alley of our old business - Grantree & Hill Gallery and Framing in Siloam Springs.

How strange, that he would throw stuff like that away.
posted by jayder at 11:11 PM on November 11, 2007

Good photos, fantastic story. Great post, thisisdrew.
posted by sveskemus at 11:20 PM on November 11, 2007

Cool pictures & post, but I found this hilarious:

"Please respect copyright."

Just on reading that, I laughed.

Then I realized that the guy with the flickr page wants us to respect his copyright while (I believe, not a copyright lawyer.) he blatantly violates the copyright of the photographer. Lulz. He should just go ahead and hack flickr to bring up a warning message if I right click.

(If these were taken as part of the photographer's military duties, I think that actually makes the originals public domain, but the flickr guy didn't know of that possibility initially.)
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 11:21 PM on November 11, 2007

I laughed.

I think actually the idea is that, while he is now apparently publishing them with the (implied) consent of the original photographer, their presence of Flickr does not imply anyone else can use the pictures as they like.

Though, yeah, if they're military, then it's moot.
posted by blacklite at 11:39 PM on November 11, 2007

(their presence on Flickr, I meant)
posted by blacklite at 11:40 PM on November 11, 2007

When he first put them up he had no idea where they came from. So it's fine for him to use other people's pictures as he likes, just not for anyone else to do the same.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 11:45 PM on November 11, 2007

Isn't the issue (I don't know, I'm asking) - that no one use the photos for profit (the guy who posted them isn't getting paid)?

What a crazy story: So easily resolved is, I think, the interesting part.

Thanks for the post.
posted by From Bklyn at 12:05 AM on November 12, 2007

I just want to say that I love Kodachrome.
posted by Potsy at 12:10 AM on November 12, 2007 [1 favorite]

check out his other work at, and
posted by mxmiller at 12:33 AM on November 12, 2007

Perhaps the poster wishes for the pictures not to be used commercially, a worthy concern given the nature of the pics.
posted by Pope Guilty at 1:10 AM on November 12, 2007

Funny how little vietnam has changed, visually, in 40 years.

The only glaring difference is the lack of traffic; even skirts have only recently gotten that short again.
posted by grubby at 1:15 AM on November 12, 2007

To me, the fact that the person who posted them on flickr went through non-trivial trouble to find the original photographer -- and received the photographer's implied consent to display them there -- makes the "please respect copyright" line apt and sincere, not hypocritical. He's talking about the photographer's copyright.
posted by churl at 2:06 AM on November 12, 2007 [3 favorites]

That's remarkable.
posted by dbarefoot at 4:19 AM on November 12, 2007

"I'm gonna ditch this machine for a bit. I let you know if the weirdness persists outside this room."

... now where have I heard that one before?
posted by From Bklyn at 4:46 AM on November 12, 2007

One would assume that since the original photographer threw the pictures away, he relinquished all ownership to the pictures. So the new owner, the finder, wasn't violating any law when he posted them or if made plans to publish them. I haven't had a chance to look in depth, but if the photographer kept the negatives or something, thats a whole other matter entirely.
posted by Atreides at 5:29 AM on November 12, 2007

These were terrific. Thank you!
posted by chihiro at 6:00 AM on November 12, 2007

I love this kind of thing about the internet.

A minor version happened here just last week when I posted about a random exhibit of 1970s street photography, and mefite NickySkye turned out to have known people in the photos.
posted by CunningLinguist at 6:13 AM on November 12, 2007

For some reason, the vibe I get from this picture is that he's a miniature prisoner about to be executed. Maybe it's the yellow jumpsuit.
posted by tehloki at 6:15 AM on November 12, 2007 [1 favorite]

How strange, that he would throw stuff like that away.

My thoughts exactly - I can't imagine why anyone would discard something with such obvious historical (let alone artistic) value.

Then again, if I'd served in Vietnam, I probably wouldn't care to be reminded of my time there. I wonder if rediscovering these photos has been painful for Mr. Hill . . .

And so, I think I'll send him a tactful message. I'm genuinely curious.
posted by aladfar at 10:00 AM on November 12, 2007

O, very lovely. It's great that these were rescued and scanned - I wish I was that lucky, to find slides that are so beautiful.

Then again, my pile of stuff that I want to scan for my flickr pool seems bottomless, so maybe it's better that I don't find anyone else's.
posted by ugf at 10:40 AM on November 12, 2007

My message to Darrel Hill was promptly answered! With his permission, I'm reproducing the exchange here:

Mr. Hill,

I suspect you're being inundated with email about your recently rediscovered photographs. They're astonishingly moving in their own right, but take on added weight given Memorial Day and the conflict in Iraq.

I'm a member of an online community called Metafilter ( In a recent discussion thread, a question has come up more than once: what prompted you to dispose of the images in the first place? In your email to the Flickr poster you mentioned something about simply clearing up some space and getting rid of old things. Was it really that simple?

I ask because I can't imagine anyone discarding photographs of such historical (let alone artistic) merit. Then again, I've never served in the military and certainly have no conception of what it was like to be in Vietnam in 1967. Did you want to be rid of the photos? Has their rediscovery brought back difficult memories?

Forgive me for prying. I'm not a reporter of any kind, just an amateur photographer who admires your work.

If you'd like to follow along with the MetaFilter discussion I mentioned, you can find it here:

- Dave

Dave -

I guess more people are seeing my Vietnam photos than ever before. I was an artist in the Army and went out photographing every chance I had; it gave me an opportunity to get with the people and the land. I must say that I did some crazy things and ventured into some areas that were not that safe. However, it was an interesting time and piece of history.

Craig is the second person to find my slides at an antique shop and looked me up. Both finders purchased at the Arkansas shop owned by the lady that climbed into the dumpster to get them plus other items. I dumped the slides years ago as we were closing our business there and simply did not want to keep boxes and boxes of stuff around. I had keep the photos for years, but felt they had served their purpose. Yes, they were/are good photos, and I was so excited to see them again. Seeing them on the Internet was a joy. Remember years ago we did not have Flickr or other Internet systems; if we had, I most like would have posted them.

I under stand the "dumpster" lady has keep a lot of slides for herself. I have no regrets and feel happy that others can enjoy them. I have given the finder permission to use them with credit to my name. He may or may not do that, but at any rate it is good to see so many enjoying them. There are hundreds more, and I even had boxes of slides stolen in Vietnam when I was there. The ones stolen, were photos of blind Vietnamese musicians; those I would have keep.

All the best,
- Darrell Hill
posted by aladfar at 10:59 AM on November 12, 2007 [3 favorites]

Recently on facebook people have been putting up class photos from my school years. It is ridiculously interesting to me, particulary when I still have those class pictures stuffed away somewhere and have maybe seen them 2 or 3 times in the 30 years since they were taken. The big difference is that the pictures seem to magically attract the people who are in them. People I haven't spoken to or seen for decades. Old photos + internet is a weird kind of social magic.
posted by srboisvert at 11:01 AM on November 12, 2007

My thoughts exactly - I can't imagine why anyone would discard something with such obvious historical (let alone artistic) value.

The guy said he decided it was 'time to move on and get rid of it.' When he said he wanted to move on I don't think he was referring to the simple act of changing addresses.

Shit, it's lucky he didn't throw the pictures in the dumpster and set it on fire.
posted by chlorus at 11:12 AM on November 12, 2007

That he threw them out is not particularly surprising to me. My own father told me that he was very close at several occasions to just throwing out all his Vietnam-related memorabilia, including photos, his uniform, etc. Thankfully he did not, but I'm not surprised that someone else (with a lot more stuff, taking up a lot more space) would have.
posted by Kadin2048 at 1:44 PM on November 12, 2007

The photos have become private - anyone have any idea why?
posted by terrortubby at 5:12 AM on November 14, 2007

Answer to my question about the privacy here.
posted by terrortubby at 4:44 PM on November 14, 2007

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