New Mexico native trying to identify people in 40-year-old photos

Albuquerque News

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – A UNM alum is on a quest to find people from photographs taken all over New Mexico decades ago. He just recently developed the film that was given to him back in the 80s.


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Memories made in New Mexico are being shared 40 years later. “It’s a window into a different time,” said Robby Poore, who is sharing the film.

Poore, a Los Alamos native, was working as a lighting designer in Albuquerque in the 1980s when someone gave him a canister of film. “I did psychedelic lighting, which means I used film strips,” he said. “They said you might want to use this for one of your art projects or for the Strawberry Zots light show.”

Poore never used the film but he still kept it. “About 60 rolls of films that are wrapped up in this thing. And they’re people’s pictures. I couldn’t throw it away,” he said.

Now living in North Carolina, Poore decided to use the extra time at home during the pandemic to scan the photos. From the Rio Grande Valley, to filming sets, to friends at dinner, the photographs highlight New Mexico’s beautiful scenery, culture, and people all from the 70s and 80s.

“They’re not looking at cell phones. They’re all talking. A lot of them are smoking and having drinks and food. It’s a fascinating glimpse. This is a time capsule,” said Poore. “We’ve kind of forgotten those times…I’m not going to say it was simpler, but it was a time that was very different than now and I miss a little bit of that.”

He’s trying to learn the story of the people photographed, sometimes creating his own along the way. “I have no idea what they’re doing and so I’ll make up a narrative. And I’ll sort of write about it in a funny way,” Poore said. “There’s one woman called the ‘Lady In Blue.’ I don’t know who she was, she’s in several…There’s one guy called Captain Cool. He had a cool mustache and he had a sailboat.”

Poore is now turning to the new to connect the old. He creating a Facebook page called The Unknown Metal Box, where he uploads the photos in hopes of sharing the memories with the people who lived them.

“I would love to get these photos back to whomever the photographer was or at least to the people who are in the photos,” he said. Since starting, a daughter of a couple whose wedding photos are posted reached out identifying her parents.

“She said that’s the missing roll of film they didn’t have from that wedding,” he said. “I’m blown away. That’s amazing.” He’s now printing the photos and sending them to the couple. He hopes he’ll get to send more photos to others soon.

“It’s just a fascinating mystery I’d love to be able to solve,” Poore said.

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