Photographs are an important primary source of information in Timor history but information on their creators is often lost. We post a few such images here and ask: Who were the photographers and where are the original hard copies?
Thousands of Timor images for the 1974-1999 period can be found in private archives or online on social media or in archival databases* – but seldom with any record of the key information needed to extract their full historical value. Photographs are most valuable when we know the photographer’s identity, when they were created and where.
Identifying the photographer serves a number of purposes. It assists in determining the date, location and context of the images. It increases the probability that the image is depicting real events and is not fake. It also ensures proper attribution or credit to the original creator of the photo.
In many cases however, the actual photographer may never be known. This is particularly so with photos from inside occupied East Timor such as the many available images of the armed resistance. To establish authenticity of such images, we can draw on whatever knowledge we have about the ‘chain of custody’ or the first identifiable owner of the photographs.
In the interests of long-term historical knowledge and research, a case can be made for a central online register of historical photographs of the 1974-1999 era. Such a register would enable researchers and publishers to identify the origins of a particular image. It would also provide an opportunity for missing information to be provided by anyone with such knowledge; so-called ‘crowd-sourcing’ the data.
Ideally, such a register would be established and maintained by a relevant institution in Timor-Leste.
Who took these photos? Do you know?
We present here a few images for which we would like to establish the name of the photographer and any known location of original prints or negatives.
We invite you, the ‘crowd’, to assist us in this task by making a public comment on this post or emailing us at: blog[at]timorarchives.info
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* Some image sets can be found online through the following links: