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Indiana Wants Me


When FOUND magazine co-founder Jason Bitner stumbled across several boxes of old studio photographs stored in the back of a small town diner, he discovered the found photo equivalent of a goldmine — some 18,000 formal portraits of the residents of LaPorte, Indiana dating from the ’40s to the late ’60s. Some of these images have been collected in a neat new book called (appropriately enough) LaPorte, Indiana. On the whole, it’s an intriguing look at how ordinary people once saw themselves at their best. Whether the subject is a smiling baby or an elderly couple, most of are dressed in their Sunday finest and posed stiffly against neutral backgrounds. The photos are nicely arranged in ways that underline their similarity — a spread of women holding a rose by their cheek, for example. Often the same subject is shown in a formal pose, then in a more spontaneous casual pose. It’s fun to glance at the sheer variety of faces on the subjects, while the hairstyles and (often dorky looking) fashions remain constant. One unsettling spread juxtaposes a small child and an older woman wearing virtually identical cat-eye glasses. Definitely a window into another time and place.

Although the people in the photos weren’t identified, the official LaPorte, Indiana weblog points out that some current residents have come forward with names. Pretty cool! Pre-purchase the book at Amazon here.

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