Wednesday Ephemera #8: Family Kodachrome Slides (1950s)

Above image: Kodachrome snapshots, stored in metal slide binders, displayed on my x-ray light box.

Hello my friends, welcome to the eighth installment of Wednesday Ephemera!

What is “Wednesday Ephemera” you ask? Well, it is a Show and Tell of sorts, a place where I share pieces from my collection of paper ephemera. Click here to read my extended introduction.

Today I share with you a selection of Kodachrome slides that Corey and I came across one Sunday morning while visiting the Long Beach Antique Market. Our mouths were agape as we stood there examining box upon box of metal bound 2.25″ x 2.25″ slides. We were introduced to the “Freemans” and the “Clarksons” in countless family snapshots, all soaking wet in 1950s Americana and joylessly displaced on a present-day folding table. We walked away that day with a slide box of our favorites and found some comfort in knowing that they had a new home.

Click on any photo below for a closer look!


Above is a selection of some of my favorite slides that I’ve placed on an old X-Ray light box to photograph for this post. I found this light box at an estate sale in Pasadena. An X-Ray examination light box may be a clunky addition to any “modern” apartment, but I couldn’t deny myself the excitement of viewing slides and negatives this way. I think most photographers with a film history would share this sentiment with me. Light boxes are truly a treat.






Left: When I want a quick peek, I use my “natural” light box (the living room window) to view my slides and negatives. / Right: I love group shots that allow the viewer to take in the environment around the subjects; photographs that ask you to consider “place” and “person” as equal. So many elements in this image inspire me to shoot. Even though the subjects are aware that they are posing for a photograph, I feel as if I’m gazing upon a moment interrupted. Swish-patterned clouds create depth in an otherwise faded blue sky, the windmill is caught in a vigorous full-circle motion, each person leaning in as they stare intently into the photographer’s lens.


Looking at family snapshots naturally leads me to think of The Kinks’ song, “People Take Pictures Of Each Other”. I guess it’s not surprising to admit that I’ve always been drawn to this song, along with another one of their photo-centric songs “Picture Book”. Anyone who has thoughts about the act of picture-taking will always have my ear.

“People take pictures of the Summer,
Just in case someone thought they had missed it,
And to proved that it really existed.
Fathers take pictures of the mothers,
And the sisters take pictures of brothers,
Just to show that they love one another.”

Ray Davies of The Kinks

Have a listen below:

Until the next time, be safe out there.

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