Lewiston "Orphaned Photos Project" Gains National Attention


It's been nearly one month since we first introduced you to the Steigers family and their labor of love project to put a name to every face.

Their "Orphaned Photos Project" was already gaining popularity locally through social media, but when we returned to see how the project was going, KLEW News reporter Shannon Moudy found out it's now gaining national attention.

"It just really, really exploded," Char Steigers-Sauer says.

When we last saw Char, she and brother Mike were just beginning their journey reuniting 35 years worth of portraits taken by their mother, Mary.

Char says, "Hundreds of people stopped by. Call, email, text." Char has meticulously kept record of every "lead," much like a detective putting together a mystery.

She estimates in just under a month, they've reunited around 120 photos.

"But," she adds, "we still have hundreds more. We keep finding more and we probably have 300 at least."

The task has not been easy.

"It's been wonderful and a little overwhelming," she laughs. With calls and messages mounting up, and more pictures turning up in every corner of the little studio on Cedar Avenue, Char's started an organizational process. The unclaimed snapshots also have a new digital home. "We've started our own Facebook page now."

Perhaps most surprising was when Char received a phone call from a national news outlet. "CBS News wanted to talk to us about possibly being on a morning show." No word yet on if they'll be featured on CBS This Morning's "A More Perfect Union" segment.

The project was never about notoriety or even going viral locally. At its heart, it's a labor of love, carrying on a legacy of care Mary gave each subject and photo.

Char says each person who has picked up a photo has shared something with her. "They may have some tears or tell me a wonderful story."

On its face, a photo may just be ink on paper. But in these faces are the people we love.

Char describes one instance where a woman picked up a photo of her late husband. They knew he had cancer when they took the photos, but wanted to capture him happy in that moment. "She was kind of chuckling and said she cannot believe after all these years he managed to get himself on KLEW TV and let her know he's still thinking of her. I know, it's really sweet."

You can view the Steigers Studio Orphan Photos and Negatives Project at or email

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