I happened upon this extraordinary set of photographs on Flickr this week.
They are so for two reasons: Firstly because if you are searching for this genre there is certainly enough of it; although almost without exception, all of the material is American.
Secondly, I remember it well. How often can you say that? “I remember it, because I was there”.
New Lynn was near enough to the family home , but still far away enough that it was still a bit of an “outing” for special requirements. Seeing photos of it – boom! – instantly transported me right back to shopping with Mum alone in too tight toddler shoes; and then later when my sister was added, her and I chasing each other around amongst the huge plant pots in the ubiquitous “modern age finish” of the bleak, pebble encrusted courtyards. And amongst the shelves and aisles of Woolworths to keep ourselves entertained, probably knocking things to the ground with our antics, to disapproving result.
The photographer has enjoyed the medium as a hobby for over 55 years without any formal training. ” These are Images of Woolworths Stores in New Zealand I worked at, or visited.The Lynnmall photos were taken night before official opening in 1963.This was a big event in Auckland, as it was the first regional shopping centre in New Zealand (this was six years after the first one in Australia opened at Chermside in Brisbane). I worked on setting up the store here, then three months later came back from a stint with Woolworths in Australia to manage the Food Fair in Lynnmall. there are probably thousands of occasions where people have captured similar moments around the world. The photos, most likely, get looked at, put in albums or boxes and stored away. If only they would dig them out and add them to a service like Flickr – just brightening one person’s day would be worth the effort “.
Well, to me this series is an incredible documentation, especially for more personal reasons than others. Brighten my day it did. It’s the kind of stuff I often think “I wish someone had taken photos of something like that – but they never do…” and then, what do you know. Thank god for people with cameras at the ready.
I love to zoom in and look at the designs of the packaging, most now long gone. Here is a digital recreation of a can label I was able to make from the almost indecipherable image of the Wattie’s product stacked on the shelves in the store over to the left in the photo above. I also recreated the POS cardboard display. I’m not sure about some details such as the medallions on the can, but I was able to work with details from another 1950’s can label and photos I’ve collected.
Check out the full set here:
Thanks to Degilbo for use of the images.