Man reading a book under a Plane tree in Geneva, mediadrumimages/JackSharp/@jacksharp_photo

By Alexander Greensmith


A BRITISH man has unearthed his grandfather’s secret photo collection showing what life was like on the continent half a century ago.

Striking pictures captured an elderly outdoor toilet attendant in a French slum, and posters in Switzerland opposing women’s voting rights.

Another image featured a French fireman taking a cigarette break, whilst a separate snap captured a man climbing a gate to get a free peek at a bull-riding performance.

Beach bum. These negatives are over 50 years old, some even 70 years old, but have only been scanned due to the free time found from lockdown in the coronavirus pandemic. mediadrumimages/JackSharp/@jacksharp_photo

Having owned the photographic film for six years, digital engagement executive, Dylan Jack Scalet (26), of Brighton, UK, has processed and digitised his grandad’s pictures taken across Switzerland and France – offering vignettes of 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s life.

Engineer, Jack Sharp, was born in 1928 in Harrold, Bedfordshire, UK, and took up amateur photography in 1950. He moved to Geneva, Switzerland, in 1955 for work and to raise a family. He unfortunately passed away in 1992 – one year before his grandson’s birth.

However, Dylan, who took his middle name from the photographer, has started a website in Jack’s honour where he hopes to raise funds for Alzheimer’s and cancer research.

Vintage rollerskating at an unknown location in Europe. mediadrumimages/JackSharp/@jacksharp_photo

“Growing up as a kid, my mum presented a couple of small prints of her father’s to me and proudly placed them around the house. As a millennial kid, there is definitely something mysterious about retro black and white images. There’s a certain curiosity about them,” said Dylan.

“I was given a massive box full of negatives in 2014, while I was studying photography at university, but it wasn’t until March this year in lockdown where I finally got around to looking at and digitising most of these images.

“I’ve scanned three-thousand so far and I reckon there’s at least two-thousand left to go. When I first scanned them I was like ‘Holy crap. This is just like what is shown in academic photography textbooks.’

Love in Paris, captured from the edge of a building in Rue du Montparnasse, Paris, France. mediadrumimages/JackSharp/@jacksharp_photo

“My mum is over-the-moon. Jack was a really important figure in her life and she has been taking care of my gran, Jack’s wife, for the past ten years. I posted a photo of Jack’s to Reddit and it got seventeen-thousand upvotes. She was taken aback with a lot of joy and happiness. It was kind of a validation that her dad was a great photographer. Hopefully we can take this success further and in the future earn money for charity as well.”

Dylan had always intended to process the images, but the pandemic gave him time to research and purchase the best quality scanner. He acquired an Epson V850, and hopes to scan hundreds more of Jack’s images to share with the world.

HANDSOME JACK: Dylan’s grandad died from Alzheimer’s one year before he was born, but the grandson hopes he can raise money for Alzheimer’s research by sharing his grandpa’s work. mediadrumimages/JackSharp/@jacksharp_photo

Jack Sharp used the now-vintage Agfa Super Silette Apotar 45mm f/1:3.5 and Asahi Pentax K Auto-Takumar 55mm f/1.8 cameras.