To the small group of photography experts aware of its existence, it was known simply as “the Mexican suitcase.” And in the pantheon of lost modern cultural treasures, it was surrounded by the same mythical aura as Hemingway’s early manuscripts, which vanished from a train station in 1922.
Robert Capa left the negatives in his Paris darkroom when he fled Europe for the United States in 1939. He assumed that they had been destroyed in the Nazi occupation. The story of how they got from Paris to New York via Marseille and Mexico City is almost as exciting as Capa's life.
Capa, one of the most famous war photographers of the last century, was most well-known for this photograph The Falling Soldier made in 1936 during the Spanish Civil War. He died in Vietnam in 1954 while on assignment.
Today's war photographers use primarily digital cameras. One wonders how accessible and usable their photographs will be in 69 years.
Perhaps the best way of preserving today's images is to make prints from them and then store those prints carefully. Perhaps we should also make film negatives from those prints. I'll discuss more practical approaches to preserving digital images later.