The NPR Picture Show Lost and Found follows Charles W. Cushman, one of the first individuals to experiment with color photography, in the age of black and white photos. This story creatively weaves audio and photos together to tell his unique story.
To begin the story you hear a short introduction by Rich Remsburg (image researcher at Indiana University). The author of The Day In Its Color, Eric Sandweiss presents most of the audio as he tells the stories of Cushman and the photos he had taken throughout his career. Throughout the audio reporter Claire O’Neill provides short commentary that acts as transitions between actualities. The audio is delivered seamlessly as Sandweiss, Remsburg, and O’Neill educate listeners on a short biography of Cushman’s life.
Throughout most of the story instrumental music is used in the background, which intensifies as Cushman’s story escalates. This adds depth to the audio, helping listeners stay engaged with the story and feel the emotion of the story being told.
The photos in this story are presented in a hybrid of a slideshow and a gallery. They move as the story progresses, yet you are also able to scroll slightly ahead or behind of the slide the story is currently on. The photos do an amazing job of showing you who Cushman and his wife Jean are, the main characters. The photos also show the settings of Cushman’s life and where he traveled to take his photos.
By observing Cushman’s photos you can see he enjoys using leading lines, especially when taking photos of landscapes. He also used unique perspectives when photographing people, as some are taken from above, and some seem to be taken from lower angles. Cushman also played with depth of field…allowing focus to be on the background or focusing on a subject that was closer to the camera at times.
How These Form a Story
If someone were to just listen to the audio portion of Lost and Foundthey would be able to understand Cushman’s life story. But they wouldn’t be able to see that he was a visionary of color photography. The photos and audio are well matched as they follow the story. They show his favorite things to photograph, how he follows the American Industrial Revolution, and him and his wife’s travels. Through the audio you learn the background of all the photos, so they really do belong together and one is not complete without the other.
What Do I Think?
As someone who is interested in photography, this was definitely an interesting story to hear. It caused me to search deeper into the archive of Charles W. Cushman’s photos. But as a story in general it was rather dry, it truly seemed like they were digging for a story that wasn’t really there. It was interesting to hear about the struggles him and his wife went through, but it didn’t seem relevant to his role in photography.
This story gave me a few ideas for storytelling projects in the future. I really enjoyed the ability to scroll through the photos freely. And Lost and Foundalso allowed me to see he importance of really focusing on an important story and not making a story out of nothing.