The forgotten film

July 1, 2012

My digital camera broke. And of course it happened to break at the moment my husband and children were getting ready to glide across the zip line while on our Upper Peninsula getaway. Really? This was probably the highlight of our vacation for the kids!

I tried my best to take pictures of them with the camera on my phone as they zipped past me waving and smiling. I have the cheapest model of cell phone on the market so the pictures are pretty fuzzy and you can barely make out the person in the photo. I suppose there are worse tragedies in life than a missed photo opportunity but I sure felt bad that the zip line adventure was not captured on film for memory’s sake.

Growing up I always loved to take pictures. I spent several summers going to photography camps using the 35mm camera that was my pride and joy. I’d save up my money to get the pictures developed never really knowing what they would look like because back in those days that’s how it was done.

There was no screen where you could instantly see the results. The closest thing to a digital camera back then was a Polaroid camera (I had one of those too). It was a mystery as to how the photo would turn out as there were no instant results. The excitement of getting back the envelope with all the pictures that I had hoped turned out was an event that I really looked forward to. Of course I had to wait several days for the film to be developed which added to the excitement and anticipation.

Once I got the film back there was always a selection of good photos and bad photos. The bad photos usually had someone with their eyes closed or who had turned their head. The finger in front of the lens or the face that was funny but not intentionally so. It was a mixed bag as far as what the results would be when you took a picture. I suppose with all these variables that is why we switched to using our digital camera several years ago.

With my daughter’s softball games approaching and with no digital camera nor the funds to purchase a new one I decided to pull out the 35 mm camera that had been collecting dust for several years now. My photography skills must have escaped me as the first thing I did was open the back to find there was film already loaded in the camera. Oops!

I took the camera out to the ball field figuring that if any pictures were left on the film they were pretty much ruined in my haste. It was fun to hold that camera in my hands again. I liked hearing the clicking sound and trying to get the focus just right for each picture.

When the roll of film was used up (which went pretty fast) I took it in to be developed. Not hoping for much but wondering if any of those old photos were salvageable. The anticipation of waiting for the results of my pictures was there again, like being a kid.

When I opened up the envelope I half smiled and cried all at once. A photo from probably 4 years earlier had survived. We had taken a spur of the moment road trip on a snowy day with the kids and our dog. The kids were so little in the picture that they didn’t seem real to me. Our dog in the picture had to be put down shortly after it was taken. That trip didn’t seem so long ago in my mind but that picture told a different story.

I was so thankful that the picture survived to make it to me on that day. To remind me how precious our time on this earth is and how quickly it escapes us. Looking through photos can be very hard for someone as sentimental as me. I am instantly transported back to the time and place that the picture was taken to relive it for a brief moment. This is especially hard for me as a mother when I look through my children’s baby pictures. It’s hard to remember what it felt like to hold them in my arms. It seems so long ago.

So many times I think we focus on the “big” moments of our lives as being the most important. I don’t think that’s true. I think it’s in the small things that we find the greatest joy and most fond memories. The moments that touch our hearts are the ones that we don’t see coming. When that picture was taken it was a nice day but nothing about that day seemed extra special at the time. Looking back now it was a special day that has since touched my heart and helped me to relive a wonderful time with my family. It was a moment in time that I had forgotten long ago.

We will be purchasing a new digital camera in the near future. It’s not that I don’t appreciate my old 35 mm camera but the convenience factor is significant in comparison. But after this recent discovery of the forgotten film I do believe that we may use this last roll of film on hand to take some pictures of our family and activities to be set aside and developed years from now as our own time capsule. It’s kind of my silly and sentimental way to allow for the everyday moments of our lives to be transformed into a photographic mystery to be revealed and fondly remembered.


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