A few weeks ago I was sorting through a very old cupboard of equipment at VC and found a stash of old and antiquated camera’s.

Most of which where not much interest – the sort of thing you can pick up at any car boot for pence.  However, amongst the hoard, I spotted a particularly fine Box Brownie – not the usual really old type either, but an all together snazzier more beautiful version. The Brownie F to be exact.

Kodak Brownie F

This golden beauty stared up at me and begged to be freed from her prison and I was happy to oblige.  However, this was only part of the treat, inside, lay the ultimate gift – a film!  I love it when I find an old camera that still has a film in it – in fact, you can often find me riffling through the camera’s in charity shops – just in case one contains the golden nugget of an undeveloped film.  Rarely, however, do I come up with the goods.

This find was especially exciting because it was a Medium Format film and I had literally no idea where it had come from, who had donated it to the college or when the film was taken…so I developed it.

The film was starting to degrade quite badly and there were only 3 exposures that actually were images – after that, it is like the camera died.


What I love about a find like this is that all you have of the person whose camera and film it was – are the images you develop from the negatives.  The only information and insight into their lives are contained here in a chemical reaction with light. A fragment of their time is given in those negatives for someone like me to look at, make judgements from and share a very small part of their life.  No doubt at the time of taking the photo’s, the photographer would not have considered a stranger would be developing them years in the future, most probably they were private images for a private audience.

I particularly love this set of images because it is almost as if they are the lust mutterings of a dying camera.  It degrades as the images progress – finishing with a cough of light and marks as though it were the last breath it had left.

What we can get about the owner from the images on the negatives I do not know – but I thought I would share them with you along with my thoughts.

This find has inspired me to dig out my other found negative collection and see what treats they have in store.


BOY (2011) I love this image – a young spectacled boy in what looks like school uniform stands holding a tortoise. In the background it looks like there are houses and shrubs, suggesting this is in the setting of a garden. Then emerging from the black is an old gent to the bottom right of the photo. A grandad perhaps?

OLD COUPLE (2011) Another tortoise picture and perhaps the grand parents of the small boy. Is this their tortoise and he is visiting them – or perhaps vice versa.

COUNTRY HOUSE (2011) This is the third picture on the film and shows a rather grand looking estate. I wonder if the visit to the house followed the tortoise admiring and whether this was part of a family day out? The building looks almost like a castle, but with the body of water in front of it, my suspicion is that it is taken at Sheffield Park.

DEATH (2011) The last splutterings of a dying camera – desperately attempting to make one final mark before it passes.


I wonder what conclusions people might draw about my life based on a small selection of photo’s they may one day come across.

I also wonder why it is so interesting to peer into other people’s lives we don’t know and never will.

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