I recently met up with with Fernando Morales, the Head Curator of Photography of IMS Vintage Photos, talking about how photography came in to his life, about the work he is doing for IMS, what is so special about vintage press photographs, and more – enjoy the conversation here!
Can you describe your background in photography and how did you find photography or photography found you?
I grew up reading newspapers, my father was a page designer in a newspaper in my hometown in Chile and he would bring home old wirephotos he picked up from the garbage can, I was fascinated by them. At an early age I became interested in World War II and general world history. When I was 17 in 1990, I started studying photography and shooting for a small crime news magazine and newspapers in Santiago, Chile.
After graduating and acquiring some experience I traveled to Central America to work for News wire agencies. Later I moved to Canada where I worked as a photojournalist with The Globe and Mail, Canada's National Newspaper.
During most of this time I was collecting photographs from other photographers, I also opened a small photography gallery in Toronto in 2004 that I had to close after a few years, to focus on my photojournalism career.
How would you describe the work you do for IMS?
It is a very fascinating work. As IMS digitize thousands of photographs every week, I keep a close eye to the folders and collections trying to discover authors and important world events from the archives being processed. Most of the selected material goes to Catawiki and other premium photography auctions in Europe and the United States. I discovered IMS vintage photos website soon after it was inaugurated and became obsessed with the photographs IMS was selling to the general public, that made me turn my focus from recently printed photographs to vintage prints.
What is so special about vintage press photographs would you say?
The most special part for me is the opportunity to find early work of photographers I admire, find lost photographs from these authors and important unseen images of world events. I enjoy helping collectors to acquire them for a fraction of what they would need to pay at an art gallery. I certainly feel it is a privilege to search these newspaper archives that have been stored, in some cases, for 100 years or more.
Do you have other assignments within photography besides IMS?
Since the irruption of digital photography I started feeling disconnected from photojournalism, the arrival of video cameras in the newsrooms sealed my retirement from the profession. I still take photographs and develop black and white prints but not commercially. I used to take hundreds of photographs a day and now I shoot probably one canister of film a month. I certainly like it and enjoy it more this way.
Creative & Photography Director of IMS Vintage Photos