Production Trivia
The setting:
For decades, the Chelsea Flea Market — the primary setting for Other People’s Pictures — was made up of a collection of outdoor and indoor lots located near the intersection of 26th Street and 6th Avenue in New York City. Recently, many of the outdoor lots have closed or relocated to make way for luxury condos, but an indoor section of the market remains in operation. It is called The Garage and during the week it is, in fact, a working parking garage. On the weekends, however, it is filled with hundreds of flea market dealers, a handful of whom deal almost exclusively in snapshots.

The Garage is one of the few markets in the country — Ebay notwithstanding — where buyers can expect to find a preponderance of vintage family photographs for sale. These images are completely vernacular in nature, having been created by amateur and anonymous photographers, usually to record the everyday lives of their loved ones: the birthday parties, weddings and vacations that have come to be associated with the traditional family photo album. Snapshots can be purchased for as little as twenty-five cents or can go for hundreds of dollars for a single image.

Where the photos come from:
Snapshot dealers who sell their goods at the Garage often live outside of the city and travel from rural Pennsylvania or Upstate New York on Saturdays and Sundays to connect with their customers. They find the photographs at junk shops or auctions in their home areas. Estate sales are another source of family photos: an elderly person dies and their treasured snap albums, filled perhaps with faces unrecognized by their children or grandchildren, are sold for a few dollars or even given away for free. Snapshot dealers sometimes even stumble on boxes of snaps put to the curb on trash day.

The photos in the film:
In Other People’s Pictures, the snapshots shown on screen are as vital to the film as the collectors who talk about them. Because these collectors have such huge collections of snapshots, they were able to provide us with tens of thousands of photographs to consider for use in the film.  Primarily  city dwellers, they have little space in their homes to display their collections, and have to keep the bulk of their photographic treasures in boxes pushed under beds or stuffed in closets.  The collectors were generally thrilled to have an excuse to bring out their snapshots, and we spent countless hours with them sifting through piles of vintage photos in order to find the images we needed.

The snapshots are indeed treasures, and the collectors are understandably very protective of them.  To incorporate the snaps into the film we had to scan them, and needed to borrow them from the collectors to do so.  One of the first collectors who agreed to lend us his photos - Dan - met us at the flea market with his snapshots in hand, only to balk at the last minute.  He just couldn’t let them go.  After that, we invited each collector to accompany his or her snapshots to the scanning sessions in our home.  Most of them took us up on the offer, sitting with us for many, many hours while we scanned their photos for the film.  Finally, we came up against a collector — Fern — with a steadfast rule that her snapshots never leave the house — and so we packed up our scanner and a laptop and brought them to her home, in order to capture her photographs.

In preparation for the film, we scanned about 1500 snapshots at an extremely high resolution.  We estimate that at about 20 minutes per image, this part of the process took about 500 hours — or four months worth of full-time workdays — to complete.