I have been fascinated with found photographs for a long time. For 25 years, I have collected photographs found on the ground. Recently I have been drawn to more formal portraits culled from dusty cardboard boxes in thrift stores or ratty suitcases at flea markets.

There is an innate sadness connected to these photographs. Who are they? What are their stories? How did these photographs end up unloved, not with their families, discarded?

I decided to give them a chance to live again, to be seen again, to be considered part of our collective whole. In order to infuse life into the images, I asked people of the same gender and approximate age to hold the photograph, leaving room for the viewer to connect the living to those who have passed on.

I feel a quiet satisfaction that they got to see the sun and the stars again, be held again, and be recognized with love and dignity.

This series was shot with a 55 year old twin lens Rolleiflex, printed on Ilford warmtone paper and toned with sepia.

Prior to becoming a photographer, I worked for many years as the Fashion Editor for Vogue Patterns Magazine in New York City, and then continued on in Los Angeles as a freelance photo stylist. As a fashion editor, I had the privilege of working with many exceptional fashion photographers, including Horst, Mario Testino, Patrick Demarchelier, Arthur Elgort, and Bert Stern.

After standing next to the camera for many years, I have discovered that it is behind the camera that I find my joy and passion.

— Aline Smithson