Last weekend I decided to finally take my dad's old film camera, a Minolta Maxxum 5xi which was made in 1992, mainly because of a mysterious roll of film still in the camera. A roll of film with sixteen exposures already taken out of the twenty four available.
My dad passed away suddenly on June 28 2015 and my mom cannot remember the last time she saw him use the old film camera so knowing what was on the roll of film was a tantalizing mystery. This was by no means his first film camera as there are photo albums at my mom's house with pictures he took dating back to the 1960s. He had moved into the digital world like everyone else and had been using a Sony DSLR for as long as I can remember. Thinking about when this roll of film could have been placed in the camera and when the last shot was taken peaked the interest even more.
Back in the summer of 2015, after he passed, I found the camera and noticed the film canister through the little view window but decided to leave it alone and packed it back up. Over the Thanksgiving weekend I finally decided to take the camera and see if I could get the film developed and share the images with family despite a part of me wanting to leave the film in the camera yet again.
My previous experience with film involved point and shoot cameras and disposable cameras which my dad would make sure I took with me when I was a kid for road trips and field trips (including shooting an entire roll of film at the Royal Tyrel Museum with my finger over the flash in grade 3 or 4).
I decided it would be best if I finished the roll of film in the camera as I could hear my dad in my ear saying 'what are you doing? Don't waste that film, finish it off'. We decided to go to the park to take a few landscape shots to fill up the roll. I could not wait to drop off the film.
On Thursday afternoon I dropped off the roll of film at the local London Drugs photo lab, one of only a few places to process film I was told. The wait between Thursday afternoon and Friday afternoon at 4:00pm was surprisingly exciting. In a world where we want and get things instantly it was refreshingly satisfying to slow things down and have to wait. As it turned out, I had to wait another day as a film processor at the photo lab went down and needed repairs. The extra wait did nothing to curtail the excitement.
When I got the envelope of photos I couldn't wait to open it. I had to see them and I had to see what the camera last saw and captured. Knowing my dad, I fully expected to find some pictures of family, perhaps his grandkids, and/or the farm.
Opening up the envelope and seeing the first few pictures I could not help but smile as I was looking at photos of family during Christmas, my youngest sister opening up birthday presents and an Easter egg hunt. It took me and my sisters a little while to try and figure out when these photos were taken and we think they span from Christmas 2006 through Easter 2007. Decade old photos finally get to be seen and all I can do is smile at them. They are by no means the best photos in the world. They won't be published or made into large prints and hung on a wall somewhere. But they are going to be something that our family will cherish forever.
I am going to keep shooting the film camera, I even picked up a few rolls of film. I am thoroughly enjoying the process of shooting with a film camera gear, the re-educating myself on photography principles that sometimes get taken for granted when shooting digital and the thrill of not being able to see what you just shot is a little addicting. I have already caught myself taking a photo and moving to look at the back of the camera for a LCD screen that doesn't exist. Plus the sound of a film camera shutter click is.....so awesome!