Charles Cushman on NPR multimedia Part 1

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A slide from NPR’s multimedia doc on early color photographer Charles Cushman

In September, NPR’s Picture Show published “Lost and Found“, an impressive multimedia project about the early color photographer Charles Cushman,  reported by NPR reporter Claire O’Neill and designed and developed by NPR web designer Wesley Lindamood.

It’s been about a month since this came out, and thus about a month since I became obsessed with it. I’ve watched it at least 10 times. Each time I see it, I want to share it with more people. I think it’s probably worth a lot more than one blog post, so I’ll break it down into a few different sections. This is the one where I simply freak out about how great the content is, i.e. the documentary geek version!

Why is this documentary (that’s what it is!) so great?

Here are my opinions:

1. Subject Matter: Charles Cushman was one of the first people photographing in color, and he was great at it. This piece is built on his beautiful photographs. Also the unbelievable fact that these photos were going to be thrown away? And someone rescued them? It’s a classic romance, except the damsel in distress is actually “boxes and boxes” of color photos? Swoon.

2. Great reporting: The voices in the piece–who are not Charles Cushman–really know their stuff, but the reporter kept the boring expert-y stuff out and left the human connection in. Near the end, one voice talks about the constant beauty and how it’s preparation for beauty in the next life.

3. Incredible pacing: (this has a spoiler, so make sure you look at the documentary before you read this) The pairing of metaphorical, rather than literal images is just breathtaking. I’m not sure when I noticed the pictures of fireworks paired with the unraveling of Cushman’s wife and the shots she fired, but once I noticed it felt even more poignant.

4. Great multimedia design: More on that later!

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Another slide from the Charles Cushman NPR special

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