When American tourist Tom Sponheim bought a stack of photo negatives for $3.50 in a flea market in Barcelona back in 2001, he probably wasn’t expecting to find the secret work of a master photographer hidden inside them. But that’s exactly what he found when he returned home and developed them, because as you can see below, the pictures he discovered are nothing short of stunning.

Keen to learn more about the mysterious person behind the lens, Sponheim set up a Facebook page in 2010. On it he hosted the images he’d developed and bought ads targeting photography enthusiasts in Barcelona. Despite the page’s popularity however, and despite various people identifying themselves or friends in the photographs, the identity of the photographer remained unknown until Begoña Fernández stumbled upon the page in 2017. Awed by the beauty of the pictures, she set upon a fervent quest to get to the bottom of the mystery.

First she managed to identify an elementary school in one of the photographs, and from there she learned about a photography contest in 1962 with similar shooting locations to those in the pictures. Her research eventually led her to the archives of an old photography association called the Agrupació Fotográfica de Catalunya, and there, after more digging, she eventually found a picture in a magazine that she recognised from Tom’s Facebook page. The image was credited to a Milagros Caturla, a woman who trained as a teacher but worked as an administrator. She was a keen photographer who won various local contests and even had a dark room in her apartment before her death in 2008. While she's sadly no longer alive, Fernández and Sponheim are determined to ensure her legacy lives on by introducing her work to a wider audience. Caturla’s photographs will appear at Barcelona’s Revela-T photography festival in May, and we hope it’s the first of many, because there’s no denying that her work deserves to be on the walls of galleries everywhere, and not on the tables of flea markets.

More info: Facebook (h/t)

#1

Lost Photos Of Barcelona

Milagros Caturla Report

John L 2 years ago

Three Padres heading out into the light of a new day.

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#2

Lost Photos Of Barcelona

Milagros Caturla Report

Burcu Erbakan 2 years ago

3 totally different aspects of similar girls, very nice catch at the right moment

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#3

Lost Photos Of Barcelona

Milagros Caturla Report

John L 2 years ago

The ever elusive Freedom, alway on the other side of the gate.

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#4

Lost Photos Of Barcelona

Milagros Caturla Report

Rebecca Everett 2 years ago

That wonderful lighted haze

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#5

Lost Photos Of Barcelona

Milagros Caturla Report

Tiana Vibhakar 2 years ago

i really admire the subtlety of this picture. it makes you feel something though you can't really name what it is.

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#6

Lost Photos Of Barcelona

Milagros Caturla Report

MagicalUnicorn 2 years ago

kitties been ruling humans since forever :)

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#7

Lost Photos Of Barcelona

Milagros Caturla Report

Diana CrunChewy Watson 2 years ago

That is one scary looking nun.

#8

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Milagros Caturla Report

Rutaichanok Satitnaosaran 2 years ago

warm morning

#9

Lost Photos Of Barcelona

Milagros Caturla Report

Sonja Götten 2 years ago

Looks a bit like little Frida Kahlo

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#10

Lost Photos Of Barcelona

Milagros Caturla Report

John L 2 years ago

Its nice to know that even when you stumble and fall, there is someone to help pick you up again.

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Lost Photos Of Barcelona

Milagros Caturla Report

DancingToMyself 2 years ago

I think I know that street! Omg, the '6o.'s

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#12

Lost Photos Of Barcelona

Milagros Caturla Report

Ouzodaki 2 years ago

Lovely.

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#13

Lost Photos Of Barcelona

Milagros Caturla Report

Wilma Gruen 2 years ago

Caught in the right moment

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#14

Lost Photos Of Barcelona

Milagros Caturla Report

Tyhoic Bee 2 years ago

Beautiful.

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Lost Photos Of Barcelona

Milagros Caturla Report

Mina VonBank 2 years ago

he look like a little man

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#16

Lost Photos Of Barcelona

Milagros Caturla Report

Teresa Hudson 2 years ago

Her lean lends itself to this photo's beauty.

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Denise Stark 2 years ago

Any ideas about what year this might be?

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#18

Lost Photos Of Barcelona

Milagros Caturla Report

Silvya Mazerolle 2 years ago

Escape!

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Milagros Caturla Report

Debbie Detmer 2 years ago

The agony of a toothache

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Milagros Caturla Report

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Lost Photos Of Barcelona

Milagros Caturla Report

Diana CrunChewy Watson 2 years ago

In a way, this piece speaks to how the young view the opinions of their elders. I don't know if that what this depicts literally, but that's of what I am reminded.

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#24

Lost Photos Of Barcelona

Milagros Caturla Report

John L 2 years ago

Having lived in Germany in the mid-60s, I remember the family visiting Franco's Spain. Two things have continued to stick out in my mind about the place: the crazy nun's head pieces, and so many women wearing black. It was the most somber place we ever visited in Europe. Italy was just the opposite.

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#25

Lost Photos Of Barcelona

Milagros Caturla Report

susan xD 1 year ago

This guy has a cataract eye

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Teresa Hudson 2 years ago

Great contrast!

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DancingToMyself 2 years ago

Wow, the dancing shoes then... I would like this one on my wall!

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Lost Photos Of Barcelona

Milagros Caturla Report

Diana CrunChewy Watson 2 years ago

That is a home haircut if ever I've seen one.

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Milagros Caturla Report

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Lost Photos Of Barcelona

Milagros Caturla Report

RustBunny 2 years ago

I think she looks like she's really tired, in the process of a hard eye roll or about to sneeze.

#36

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Milagros Caturla Report

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Milagros Caturla Report

#38

Lost Photos Of Barcelona

Milagros Caturla Report

Teresa Hudson 2 years ago

Doll would be worth a pretty penny today. Love her stylin' glasses!

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#39

Lost Photos Of Barcelona

Milagros Caturla Report

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Milagros Caturla Report

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Lost Photos Of Barcelona

Milagros Caturla Report

Teresa Hudson 2 years ago

Those are red now and stationed in front of Target stores!

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#42

Lost Photos Of Barcelona

Milagros Caturla Report

Ouzodaki 2 years ago

Looks as something out of "Blood Wedding" (Bodas de sangre) by Federico García Lorca.

#43

Lost Photos Of Barcelona

Milagros Caturla Report

Dragomir Boiadzhiev 2 years ago

La Rambla street?

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#44

Lost Photos Of Barcelona

Milagros Caturla Report

Ionela Zugravu 2 years ago

That was a time when you had lived more in reality with your friends, than online.

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#45

Lost Photos Of Barcelona

Milagros Caturla Report

Ouzodaki 2 years ago

There's nothing that can cheer you up more than a Catholic procession. ;)

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#46

Lost Photos Of Barcelona

Milagros Caturla Report

#47

Lost Photos Of Barcelona

Milagros Caturla Report

faithit 2 years ago

love the ease and familiarity between these two

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#53

Lost Photos Of Barcelona

Milagros Caturla Report

Diana CrunChewy Watson 2 years ago

The nuns' outfits make them rather ominous.

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#54

Lost Photos Of Barcelona

Milagros Caturla Report

Kira Leseman 2 years ago

It's I tersting to see how much men's "sculpted" bodies have changed over the years.

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Milagros Caturla Report