Photographer Hunts for Vintage Cameras That Contain Undeveloped Film


Two years ago, photographer Chris A. Hughes purchased a 1914 French Richard Verascope camera (shown above) from an elderly man who was clearing out his camera collection in preparation for retirement. When he got into his car after the purchase, Hughes was surprised to find two packages of slides in the camera’s leather case.

Upon closer examination, he discovered that the photographs on the slides were captured by a French soldier during World War I.

All of the slides had “metadata” scribbled onto them, from the dates and locations they were snapped to random notes handwritten by the photographer. Some showed the daily life of the soldier, while others showed graphic images of death and destruction:

verascope-ww1-1 copy

verascope-ww1-4 copy

verascope-ww1-10 copy

You can find a larger collection of the scanned slides here.

After this interesting find, Hughes developed what he calls a “strange obsession” for found film. He was already an avid vintage camera collector with over 300 unique cameras dating back to 1847, but now he has shifted his focus to searching for vintage cameras in which the film is still loaded in the body.

His first catch with this new project was a Kodak Boxed Camera from an antique mall. The camera still had a roll of film inside containing photos that were over 60 years old. The whole package cost Hughes just $10.

After returning to his darkroom, Hughes managed to salvage 16 photos from the roll.

Since that Kodak camera, Hughes has taken his search for found film across North America. He has purchased a large number of cameras and over 50 rolls of antique film. Due to the high development costs, he has been developing them at a rate of one roll per week.

The results are being published through a webpage in which each gallery starts off with a photo of the camera the film was found in:


Here’s a sampling of some of the cameras Hughes has found, along with a sample photograph found within each one:

A Kodak Hawkeye Brownie purchased for $8 in Hamilton, Ontario:

cam1 copy

photo1 copy

A 1960 Yashica found at an antique flea market near Barrie, Ontario:

cam2 copy

photo2 copy

A Kodak Hawkeye Brownie purchased for $10 at an antique mall in St. Jacobs, Ontario:

cam3 copy

photo3 copy

A Brownie Target six-16 found in Niagara Falls, Ontario:

cam4 copy

photo4 copy

A Kodak Box Camera found during a roadtrip through Gettysburg, Pennsylvania:

cam5 copy

cam6 copy

Hughes says that he’s receiving more and more interest in the project as more cameras and film scans are added to the site. Head on over to the Found Film website to check out all of the published photographs so far.

  • Sid Ceaser

    This is fantastic. Little pieces of forgotten lives and history for him to rediscover. Magical.

  • Daniela Servin

    the links to the Found FIlm Website are not working

  • Mike

    What kind of a sadistic maniac would not develop the film?!

  • Mansgame

    Nice project. Any vintage porn?

  • Christian DeBaun

    Found memories. Now it would be really cool if he could find the shooters, and give them their images :-)

  • Flunn

    My mother bought me a used film camera for my and we found some fill inside. I voted to develop it and see what we got but sadly she forced to send the film back.

  • Devin Coldewey

    Really great finds.

  • Michael Zhang

    Might be too much traffic or something. It seems to be on and off right now.

  • Thanassi Karageorgiou

    This would be so much more exciting to me if I hadn’t discovered instagram, ever. Sad.

  • Kristy

    This is amazing. I bought a super 8 camera that has film in it. Might see if I can get it developed!

  • Al

    Someone else did the same thing many years ago. His images were a tad more interesting.

  • DamianM

    everything in photography has been done.
    You just have to push it further

  • Pavel Kounine

    Stuff like this will always fascinate me. The images are definitely ‘boring’, but it’s curious how their temporal distance completely waves such concerns aside and forces you to look and consider them on a deeper level.
    Sometimes I wonder if all that people will be find from the digital era will be discarded squares and rectangles of various sizes, in addition to rusty harddisks that will forever remain unmountable.

  • inek saban

    Two people prefer modern porn :)

  • John

    I think it’s worth mentioning that those WWI photographs are stereoscopic.

  • Chris Hughes

    Thank you very much Peta Pixel for a great article. My wife (Grace) and I are grateful, and we still spend every Sunday looking for “found film”. We will continue to update our archive at :

    All the best,

    Chris A. Hughes
    A Nerd’s World

  • Yang Zhang

    Those picture on top are 3D if you know how to look at it..

  • PhotoPicture

    Years ago I bought a Graflex Crown Grapic with a bunch of negative carriers, a huge case and all the accessories from a guy who said it belonged to his dad who did photography during Vietnam. I checked the carriers carefully in a closet to see if they had film in them and several of them did. I was going to school for photography at the time so I had full capacity to and intention to check the film edge for emulsion type and develop it all. I left it unattended for a few minutes and the next thing I knew my roommates photo/cosmetology student girlfriend had removed both pieces of film from each carrier. I’ve never told anybody but I secretly hate her for doing that.

  • Bill Sparkington

    The chemicals used in developing the older negatives and then printing are often banned in the USA. You wind up using substitutes that don’t yield the same results or you send them off to labs in Europe. One case was my cousin who gave me 50 reels of 8mm film to put into my home made telecine to transfer to DVD. After I had got through all the reels I found a couple that were exposed but not developed. It was all on Kodachrome stock. I spent a lot of time researching out the possibilities of printing it myself. But you have to create a lot of the chems used from substitutes sources. The best I can do anyway is to develop a black and white reversal. I suggested since they were now 50 years old, to go ahead and send them to Europe and pay the huge price for them to develop. Chances are I would not get good results. As for the homemade telecine, look at the Youtube videos of the guys who have modified projectors by removing the bulbs and adding a dimmer to both the low wattage lamp and the gate motor. You then mount the camera right up to the projector lens.