Outreach Spotlight: Lost Rolls America

Lost Rolls America / Generation Human Rights / VII Foundation


The Lost Rolls America project, founded by award-winning photographer, Ron Haviv, opens the magical reencounter with the past to anyone who possesses unprocessed film rolls. Contributors provide one roll of film, which is developed and scanned free of charge by FUJIFILM North America Corporation, and made available back to them. Participants then choose one image and, in a small write-up, explore the meaning of the photo and the significance of re-viewing a piece of their personal, sometimes lost past. Ultimately, these observations offer points of identification, through descriptions of similar memories or associations, for other viewers of this collective experience.


Lost Rolls America ensures the creation of a national archive of images from the public’s lost rolls of images that were never developed at the time of picture takingand were then forgotten—and acts as a digital repository of visual memories living on PhotoShelter’s unique platform. This is a form of collective memory that prioritizes the role of photos in constructing our personal and shared pasts. In revisiting the past, this project also encourages contemplation of how the present and future will be remembered: Which artifacts do we use to record and remember history? How do these artifacts evolve with time? In what ways has the shift from analog film to digital impacted our relation to our own personal memories?

PhotoWings’ partnership with LRA and Generation Human Rights explores the heightened role photography plays in how we document and remember our personal and shared pasts through a national high school curriculum, applicable to visual culture studies, civics, and social studies. The curriculum supports visual exhibitions, presentations, and dialogue on the value of old photographs and cross-generational communication. The LRA archive will tour across the United States.


Learn more about the project:


The Origins of The Lost Rolls Project

Award-winning photojournalist Ron Haviv looks back at more than twenty-five years of making photographs and shares his latest projects, The Lost Rolls and Biography of a Photo. The Lost Rolls explores a collection of forgotten moments and surprising discoveries leading to provocative questions from his previously undeveloped film. With Biography of a Photo, Haviv returns to countries where some of his most important iconic photographs were made. He explores the "lives of the photos" – the impact they've had on the historical narrative of the countries and the people who live there.

It makes sense that someone who is constantly photographing would have some rolls of film that wind up not being developed. But as Haviv set out on his book tour, he heard from the general public, again and again, that overlooked rolls of film aren’t just the domain of the professional photographer—everyone has that forgotten roll, misplaced in a cabinet or tucked away in the attic.

The lost rolls of one photographer thus led to Lost Rolls America, a representation of all of America’s misplaced, forgotten film. In turn, Lost Rolls America celebrates the once-misplaced, forgotten memories that are now being resurrected with the help of this archive.