Fredericton photography studio purges old negatives

Fredericton photography studio purges old negatives

A Fredericton photography studio is cleaning out some of its archives to make room for an expansion of the renowned business that's played a role in documenting the city's history. 

Harvey Studios has been in business since 1883, in the same downtown location on Queen Street. 

The business is well-known for its portrait sessions, school photography and sports team photos.

But Harvey Studios also captured much of Fredericton outside the studio walls and in the community as a commercial photographer, snapping decades of history, and selling the photos to the newspaper and businesses. 

Gary Moore/CBC

"There were not many photographers back then, so we were always part of the 'main event' photographers," said Mehrdad Bastan, president of the company. 

"We have many visits, royalty visits, Queen Elizabeth, of course, when she was young," Bastan said, describing some of the black-and-white photos the company snapped over the years. 

"We were official photographers for those events."

When Babe Ruth showed up at a sports store in Fredericton wearing an elaborate fur coat, looking at hunting rifles, Harvey Studios was there to capture the Great Bambino in the moment.

The business recently donated thousands of negatives documenting Fredericton's past to the provincial archives. 

"They are taking enough [space] that I can't expand and bring more employees to do the job," Bastan said, adding that the company employs between 15 and 45 people, depending on the season. 

Gary Moore/CBC

But it's not just commercial negatives the company is purging.

Harvey Studios is selling its 1950s negatives of family portraits and weddings before the business gets rid of the boxes. 

Gary Moore/CBC

The company will search its database for a match "if you come and tell us the name of the person you're looking for and what year and what event," Bastan said. "Are you looking for a wedding, or you looking for one of your birthdays?"

The old negatives are documented by hand in various oversized notebooks.  

Bastan said it can take 30 to 45 minutes for staff to look up an old negative when a customer inquires about old photos. 

Submitted/Harvey Studios

"Some people — they're surprised that we still have it."

Bastan said people interested in getting some old family photos should contact the shop before the end of March.