The image collection of LFK actually consists
of two types of images - photographs AND drawings. Initially the
latter dominated, as photography was expensive and it was rather
difficult to take a picture on site. Even the code letter "v"
was initially meant to indicate a drawing (see genres!),
and came to mean both drawings and photographs later, as already
in the first years of LFK's work the first photographs were submitted.
Among the first persons to add photographs to their materials was also the outstanding ethnomusicologist and composer Emilis Melngailis (1874-1954). He has also the largest number of photos in a single collection - 46. Comparatively many pictures can be found in the collection of Karlis Bukums (1884-1979), among his 18,000 items there are 11 photographs illustrating the texts. Around the same time also Martins Berzins (1874 - 1950) sent in his 7 images. But these are just a tiny part of his collection of ethnographic images.
After World War II the number of photographs grows quickly. Both professional photographers and LFK staff members contribute to the growth of the collection. Recently with the change of technology gradually colour images become commonplace, also digital pictures have been taken in several cases. No negatives of the first images are at the disposal of LFK, while most of the post-war pictures are available in both negative and print form. There are also colour slides in the archive.
At the moment the archive (images and sound recordings) is being digitised, the work was started with the support of UNESCO, that provided the opportunity to purchase the necessary equipment, create the catalogue data base and hire the staff for the first year of work. Currently the work is continued thanks to the funding from Kulturkapitala fonds, but it might take some time before the aim is achieved, as the number of items reaches 6,000.
Here just a few samples for the moment being
From E. Melngailis note book. An interesting misunderstanding - she was a Livonian (in Latvian - "libiete") and her actual name was Marija Saltjare. The great scholar has mixed the both into a wrong name - "Liba" (Latvian abbreviation of Elizabeth)...
E. Melngailis at work. the picture comes from E. Melngailis collection, no indication as to who has taken it.
Informants of E. Melngailis (from the left) G. Elksne, A. Borozinska and B. Kokare
A strange situation the political leaders oversee folklore (the year is 1950)
Preparing for expedition with a tape recorder on the famous bus of that time.
Choreographer Harijs Suna and linguist Laimdots Ceplitis performing a vital task moving portable equipment