RICHMOND, Va. -- Richmond-based photographer Meagan Abell hopes the internet can help solve a mystery that started in a local thrift store. Abell said she recently bought some old negatives she found in a box of vintage photographs at Heritage Antiques & Collectibles Mall on Hull Street Road in Midlothian. When she scanned the old negatives, she was taken aback by what she saw.
"Holy wow they are beautiful!!" she posted on Facebook. "I would absolutely love to find the women in these photographs/the photographer who took them. The only info I have is that the negatives were found in a thrift store on Hull St in Richmond, VA. They are medium format, and judging by the style of dress, made in 1940-1950."
Abell's Facebook post had been shared more than 6,000 times in the hours after it was posted. She encouraged others to share using the social media hashtag #FindTheGirlsOnTheNegatives.
Facebook detectives are helping Abell do just that.
"This definitely looks like the California coast!" Louann Walker commented. "Just a guess but it's possible this was after the war near one of the bases where a soldier was stationed. That could be an explanation for it later ending up on the East Coast. Whoever shot these was definitely in love with this woman. I hope they are still alive, still living this beautiful love story."
"These are amazing and look so much like where I grew up in San Diego," Kymberly Joseph-Farrell commented. "Even more so where we use to go camping in Baja, California."
Abell said while the reach of her post was shocking, it really made sense.
"Everyone loves a good mystery," Abell said about her post's popularity. "Everyone wants to be Nancy Drew."
Based on the film stock and setting, she said most of the speculation is that the photos were taken by a professional photographer on the West Coast.
Do you have a theory? Leave it in the comment section.