Photographer Buys Used Disposable Camera and Finds Family in Photos

A photographer developed the images on a used disposable camera that she bought at a thrift store and then managed to track down the family in the seventeen-year-old photos in a heartwarming story.

Photographer and student Aila Cason purchased a Kodak disposable camera at a second-hand store in Stone Mountain in Atlanta, Georgia.

Cason, who has the username @fairyonfilm on TikTok, could see straight away that all of the photos on the 2006 disposable camera had been taken already.

But out of curiosity, Cason, who has a particular interest in film photography and development, decided to process the film on the second-hand camera herself and see what photos were on the device.

@fairyonfilm developing someone’s long lost dispoable camera :) i rly hope someone who sees this recognizes the people in these photos! i apologize for the poor development & scanning, i was in a rush! #disposablecamera #filmphotography #expiredfilm ♬ rises the moon – liana flores

“I actually picked up the disposable camera at a local thrift store a couple of years ago,” Cason, who is based in Lilburn, Georgia, tells PetaPixel.

“I recently taught myself to develop and scan film at home so I thought it was the perfect time to get the disposable camera developed.

“I could tell that all of the photos had already been taken. The expiration date was 2008 and Kodak disposables usually have a two-year life, so I knew the photos were likely taken in 2006.

“I thought that might be some precious memories in the camera so that’s what inspired me to develop it.”

Treasured Memories

When Cason developed the film, she found a series of family photographs and she realized the images would have undoubtedly been treasured memories for people in the images.

The photos were taken a someone’s 21st birthday and showed various family members spending time together, gathering around the cake, and hugging and laughing as they celebrated their relative’s milestone day.

Cason knew she had to track down the family in the seventeen-year-old photos and return the heartwarming images to them. So she posted a TikTok video of the photos with the caption: “I really hope someone who sees this recognizes the people in these photos.”

Cason’s video quickly went viral and racked up 4.7 million views — with thousands of emotional TikTok users declaring “we have to find the owner” of this camera.

Before long, Cason managed to find the owner of the second-hand disposable camera after relatives and family members reached out to her on TikTok.

“I was hoping the Tiktok video I made would reach enough people to find the owners, but I never expected it to go so viral! I was so happy that I was able to reach the family in the pictures and send them the photos,” Cason explains.

“One of the family members I got in contact with informed me that one of the men in the photos was her brother, who had recently passed. She said that seeing those photos meant a lot to her and her family.”

More of Cason’s work can be seen on Instagram and TikTok.

Image credits: All photos by TikTok/Aila Cason/@fairybyfilm.