The Paris Review

Other People’s Photographs

Over the years I’ve accumulated thousands of other people’s photographs. I began buying them in the early eighties, at flea markets and in junk shops. At first, I rarely paid more than a nickel or a dime. I was drawn to those that contained some aesthetic quality or bit of sociohistorical information, or ideally both at once. Often the selection was made rapidly, purely by intuition; only later would I be able to name the qualities that had caught my eye. The pictures were orphans, in several senses. Anonymous photographs had little commercial value. They were considered detritus, as inert as the grocery lists or medical

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