The Photo Man: Collecting and Selling Forgotten Photographs

For Mark Kologi, selling orphaned personal photos at Los Angeles’ Melrose Trading Post is more than a business or a hobby—it’s art. “It’s this tide of humanity that’s just flooded my life,” Kologi says, and this wave sweeps into the souls of all who stop to sift through photos. In this short, poignant documentary by Ben Kitnick, we see the world through the eyes of “The Photo Man,” where even ill-exposed snapshots are treasures waiting to be discovered:

Having sold over three million photos and sorted through millions more, Kologi has had plenty of time to ponder the implications of selling others’ memories.

“But what else can I do?” he asks. “I think it’s better than having them thrown in the garbage. Particularly since when you can sometimes look into the eyes of someone who lived a hundred years ago and you can see yourself.”

To ‘The Photo Man,’ that’s what a photograph is — a fleeting moment that provides a window glimpse into someone else’s life, in the same way that Kologi watches passersby from inside his garage. They remind us that we’re all connected, living each other’s lives and intersecting every so often in a glance, a grazed touch, a simple hello.

Mark Kologi

Kologi enjoys watching customers react to his photos — some even move customers to tears.

The Photo Man

Watching passersby from Kologi’s garage is like sorting through photographs. “It’s like I’m in the movies,” he says, laughing.

“It’s the totality,” Kologi says. “That’s who I am. I’m the Photo Man.”

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