Friday, April 5, 2013

eeBee Vintage

Arc de Triomphe c. 1949
This is a story about eeBee Vintage, and how a little Etsy store can pick me up out of an epic rut...

"You never know where an email will lead..."

I came across this little store randomly one afternoon when surfing Etsy, as I usually do. Yet, in the massive influx of professional photographs--both vintage and modern--that I come across when searching through the wonderful world of Etsy...something about this very special little store stood out to me. 

Eebee Vintage is certainly one of a kind.

Parisian Women Shopping c. 1951
I have to admit that I looked at the photographs before I read the About Me of the shop owner, because it was the photographs that intrigued me in the beginning. Admittedly, the photographs hooked me completely, and I haven't found myself turning away since. 

You may ask why I find these images so profoundly fascinating. You may wonder what is so special about this particular little store, both unassuming and unpresumptuous. The answer is in the pictures themselves. 

These pictures are entirely amateur in their vintage glory, taken by the mysterious hands of unknown photographers. They depict a sincere glimpse into the lives of those who have lived before us--their honest, unposed times. 

Lady in the Rain c. 1959
Perhaps more interesting--these pictures come from a little bit of everywhere! 
They are primarily, however, American and European--an eclectic hodgepodge of city streets, market places, family vacations, and quirky moments. 

The owner of this shop depicts himself as "an 8th grade English teacher, father of four, and loved by God". This is a very humble description for someone who is breathing new life into images that would have otherwise been forgotten! 

In the process of writing this entry, I took the liberty of addressing the man behind the magic himself, Mr. Eric Bjerke. I reached out to him over Etsy, and after introductions, I delved into his interest. I inquired about his process of obtaining and repurposing these photographs, and what the most enjoyable part of having this store is. 

Boat Passengers, Italy c. 1952

When and how did you come up with the idea for your store? 

One day I got an email from a local woman whose 95-year-old grandfather had passed away. She wanted to donate his old darkroom equipment to the club, and if we couldn't use it, she wanted advice on who might want it. 
Even though our club had no need for any of the items--or any place to store them even if we did--out of curiosity I agreed to come by and check out what he had accumulated over the years...

Swiss School Children c. 1952
Before long I was back to take the rest of the slides from the man's estate just before they were dumped in the trash. I estimate that it was 30,000 slides that I brought home that day. 
I have since accumulated more slides and negatives from other sources (don't throw them away! Call me!) and now most of my current Etsy inventory is a mix of slides I found that day and new ones I have obtained. 
I am having a great time!

Where do you find most of your photographs? 

I get some of my images off of places like Craigslist or Ebay. I got some from a local antique store, and I get still more from people who are just getting rid of them. 
I have a man who has thousands and thousands waiting for me as soon as his brother gives him the okay.

Trafalgar Square Stroll c. 1949

What is your favorite photograph you've found so far? Why? And, is it for sale in your store? 

This was so very hard. It's like asking me which one of my children are my favorite! Since I have to choose, it would be the picture of the Arc de Triomphe c. 1949. 
I just love how the little guy directing traffic is right in the middle of the arch, and there are vintage cars coming in both directions. I have edited this in multiple ways and I am sure I am hnot done with it yet. Also, it is my first photograph as well. It was in the original carousel of slides I got on that first day. 
Balcony Breakfast c. 1952
There are so many others that I love too, though, so it was close.

Do you edit these photographs, or do you leave them with blemishes before selling them? 

I do varying degrees of editing on all of the pictures. I use Photoshop, and various Topaz plug-ins. I do a lot of cropping and I even clone out items that are a bit distracting to the image too. If there are flaws, I mostly keep them in. Sometimes I take pictures with no flaws and make them look even older than they are. 
The Littlest Fireman c. 1968
I can't tell you how exciting it is when   I have a batch of freshley scanned photographs from the company, and I send them out to digitize them. I totally lose track of time!

What is the most enjoyable part of having your store?

The most enjoyable part of having my own Etsy store is finding out that there are so many people out there who validate my love for these images. I just love when I post something new and people express how much they love it or when they have some personal connection to the time or placed depicted. The other thing I love is when my ipad goes "chaching!" when I get a sale! I don't sell a lot, but it is so fun [when I do]. I love collecting these old nostalgic and/or quirky images, and it is neat to sell one every so often. 

A Boy and His Dog c. 1940s

This interview with Mr. Bjerke has only proved to strengthen the special bond that I have with these pictures. It was an absolute joy to discover this new friendship, and to also discover the amazing subtle magic in these photographs. The smile they bring to my face, imagining the stories they hold and bring forth to so many countless viewers, is so precious and so priceless. 

I know the rebirth of these little snapshots in time will make many more people, stop, smile, and ponder...

How valiant are you, mighty hunter and your noble steed! 

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