For his book The Invisibles: Vintage Portraits of Love and Pride, Sébastien Lifshitz collected portraits of gay relationships he found at yard sales and flea markets:
Lifshitz, who also made a documentary film on this subject, raises an important point when he reminds us that all of these photos are pre-digital era: “Because to obtain these images, they had to have gone to a small neighborhood photo lab to develop the film and then go back to pick up the prints. They, therefore, had to run the risk of exposing themselves socially. The need to keep a memory of their love was certainly stronger than the disapproval of some business or any concerns about what others might say.”
Lifshitz spoke about the collection in an interview earlier this year:
Who are the individuals featured in these photos?
I don’t know these people — they are anonymous to me. I can’t really even say that each person photographed into the book is gay, except when it’s obvious. What I like is that there are different levels of reading these photos — I would say three levels to be exact. The first one is the pictures of obviously gay single people or couples, the second is the pictures of people which can be seen as “undefined” (we’re not sure) and the third level is the ones that are obviously not gay but playing with a gay attitude (cross-dresser, some “garçonnes,” etc.). I love the ambiguity and diversity of these pictures. These photographs ask questions. I didn’t caption the photos because I don’t know quite anything about each of them (no name, no location mentioned most of the time). I wanted to expose them like the way I found them: without any information, like mysterious pictures.