‘Found Film’… are there ghosts in my camera?

In all my years of collecting vintage (well they weren’t always considered vintage) cameras, I’ve come across my fair share of ‘found film’. I enjoy finding a roll of film left behind by the previous owner of the camera – from a collectors viewpoint it’s a great way to add some vintage film cartridges or 120 rolls to your collection of film. It’s fun to see if you can guess (from the brand and design) the what and when the roll was purchased and then the why didn’t they finish it… and of course, the who took the pictures? The who took the pictures really didn’t interest me. Sounds strange to write that being a photographer, but I’m more about the subject and not the picture taker.

I’ve never been tempted to have the film developed – why spend good money to look at things and people I don’t know? But there’s always been a slight twinge of curiosity inside me… very slight. Until recently. Money be damned! I’m lookin’!


The ‘Found Film’ from the 1960s? Maybe late 1960s.

The camera is a Yashica model A twin-lens reflex (TLR) from 1961. The film could be from the late 1960s or early 1970s but the camera is in mint “new” condition and doesn’t look like it had any previous use. So in reality, it could be from 1962 or so. Just guesses here on my part. So I spent the nearly $20 to send the film off and waited to see what developed (sorry about that). But then Carol (my wife) and I discussed if it was right to look at other people’s pictures. You know, privacy and all that. I reminded her that the pictures could be nearly 50 years old – no privacy issues there. But what about… ghosts? You know if there’s pictures of people they may be dead now and you know, they’d be ghosts. Not everyone becomes a ghost I reasoned. Just looking at them doesn’t mean they’re even dead. If they’re young people they might still be around and they might even want to see the pictures. It would be hard to find them I thought. All we knew is where the camera was from… not a small place by the way. Maybe a landmark or two would help.

Panic! Wrong time to panic. What if there were, “bad” pictures in the camera? Oh crap! Wrong time to think of that after the film was sent off! I’d call them. Call the company that was about to develop the film and explain that it wasn’t really my film and if there was something “bad” on them not to accuse me! We didn’t call – we took a deep breath and decided to wait and see what happens. We promised not to send other people’s film off ever again.

Since it was Kodacolor II negative film and was nearly 50 or 60 years old we didn’t expect much. The lab did the best they could. We did tell them ahead of time that the film was really old. Everything had a strong blueish tone so I’ve converted them to black and white using a red filter. Check it out!


Image 1… ghosts? I hope not! Mom and daughter?


Image 2… nice garden. Nice couple. Hmmm. Mom and husband?


Image 3… a Wisconsin garden. Nice.


Image 4… ghost?   


Image 5… awesome double exposure!

Well no known ghosts were found real or imagined. The remainder of the exposures didn’t come out. Was it worth the $20? No – but it was still fun!

Comments? Have you ever developed found film?

Thanks for your visit! Chris and Carol