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The Tale of the Lost Film

September 1, 2010

These photos are special to me. Not just because they were taken when I was out camping with Mike and his family, not just because they’re taken by the sea. The real reason is I thought they were lost. And when you think you’ve lost something as fleeting as a photograph, only to find it again… well, you hold it just a bit tighter.

How do you loose photos you ask? I’ll tell you.

It started a week or so after our camping trip, in the middle of a hot and getting hotter July. I swung by London Drugs on my way home from work specifically to drop of film. There was a line up, I was sweating and all I could think about was a cool  Pepsi and the hope of an air conditioned skytrain on my way back home.  When I finally got to the counter, I pulled out two rolls of film in plastic canisters from my purse and slapped them on the counter, told the lady what I wanted and that no, I didn’t need a CD of the photos. She smiled and said they’d be ready the next afternoon. I smiled back and waved as I walked away in search of coolness and never gave it a moments pause.

The next afternoon I arrived at the photo counter, excited at the thought of seeing my photos from the trip and barely able to wait to hold the packet of them in my hands. I give my name and number to the clerk, someone I’d never seen there before, and leaned on the counter while he pulled out two packets. I was just grabbing my wallet out of my purse when he said the words that made me freeze. “One of the films was blank.”

Blank. Empty. No photos. I silently cursed myself. This had happened once before, I’d mis-loaded the film and ended up with nothing but an empty contact sheet to show for it. But that was when I first got the camera and was learning about it. I took extra care now, surely I couldn’t have been that careless. Not with my VACATION photos. Could I?

I muttered something to the clerk and tried to brush it off as if it was no big deal.  I didn’t want to think about my lost photos, the memories that were gone.  But the clerk wouldn’t let it go. For what felt like eternity he lectured me on how to properly load a roll of film so that this didn’t happen. I felt smaller and smaller the more he talked. Here I was trying to think I was a PHOTOGRAPHER, I knew how to load film and do all kinds of other cool stuff with cameras. He was treating me like someone who looked at film camera and wondered where the SD card went. I wanted to cry.  I went home that night and did. I felt better, I took a deep breath and moved on.

The next weekend Mike and I were heading out of the house to meet friends and I reached into my purse to pull out my bus pass. As I dug around, my fingers touched a strangely farmiliar shaped object that I wasn’t expecting. I pulled out a roll of film, no plastic canister around it, so it was clear that it was a used roll. Instantly I remembered that while we were camping I had stuffed empty rolls of film into my purse so I wouldn’t end up without film. I realized then that the empty roll of film had be just that, and unused empty roll of film that I ‘d accidently handed over to be developed. My photos, my memories, my vacation moments, were all still safe, still there, wrapped inside this tiny metal film roll.

I started laughing, could barely stop. Mike thought I was crazy until I told him what I’d just found. He didn’t say anything, just shook his head with an amused smile on it. After all, he’s the one who’s always trying to teach me to be more neat and organized.  I was the one who puts earrings in the bookshelf and wallets in sock drawers.


So that’s my story. A bit long for a late Wednesday night, but I hope you enjoyed it anyway.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. September 1, 2010 9:13 pm

    I love moments like that where things are spontaneously recovered. I had a moment recently of finding something I didn’t know I’d lost, which is also a rather marvelous thing. I was visiting home and when going through some old papers and school notes I found a journal–one completely full lined note book that I had no idea I had lost! I thought I had all of my journals safely stowed in Vancouver but it seems this one slipped through the crack and it was wonderful to hold it and know that I’d reclaimed a whole year’s worth of memories that might have gone in the garbage with my Psychology 101 notes.

    I hope the wedding plans are going well. I’ve been promised pictures of my wedding very soon and will have to share some when they arrive.

  2. September 2, 2010 6:09 am

    Glad you found these, because they are beautiful!
    I am always losing, and then finding (luckily) things, especially photos.
    I need to learn to label and file much better than I do.

  3. September 2, 2010 10:16 am

    Ahh! Wonderful story. I’m all too familiar with that sinking feeling, I recently lost my daughter’s baby pictures when my hard drive died (I had cleared out my external drive, where they were backed up, in order to back up my client’s photos – unfortunately, I’m really bad at sharing or printing my photos, so they only ever existed virtually). I was despondent. Once my partner figured out that I had recently deleted them, he jumped into action to recover them and there they were, all of them hidden in deleted file land.

    These photos are treasures. I love the collection of shells – what an amazing variety. I’m so glad you found them.

    Happy remembering!

  4. September 7, 2010 11:41 am

    These are such beautiful photos! I’m glad it worked out in the end. Shame on that man for lecturing you. Shooting film should be a friend to another friend thing!

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