My mother passed away in December of 2019, it was a very hard time, thankfully my family and faith were able help us endure. Shortly after that, as we all know, the pandemic hit, and a lot of tough times were headed our way. Through this time, I was able to get married, and keep a job, and there were beautiful moments amidst it all.

I went to visit My family up in Michigan for Christmas 2021, our second Christmas without my mom, and as we were opening presents, it was hard to not miss her every moment. Then my dad brought out a pristinely wrapped box with my name on it. I opened the box to see his Nikkormat.

In 2010 my family’s house burnt down, and we lost everything that we grew up with, but somehow this Nikkormat survived; the same Nikkormat my dad used when we were growing up to capture all of our family memories. The camera still has soot stains on it, and the camera bag it was in still has burn marks where the faux leather had melted, but I was ecstatic.

I immediately began researching, and studying how to use this camera. After a month went by and maybe a week of obsession, naturally work came back and I was distracted from my Nikkormat. Later that year I came home and my beloved Haylee, my wife, informed me we were pregnant with our first child. After tears and thankful prayers to God, I found the Nikkormat and told myself you have got to learn how to use this, this camera has gone through too much to not be used to capture our families magical moments.

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I got my first roll, my second roll, my third roll, working diligently to figure out the focus and light meter and all the bells and whistles of this camera. Then I was at Ace photo, a camera shop in Ashburn, VA three weeks before our baby was due one of the employees told me ILFORD HP5 PLUS was an incredible film to shoot on. So July 19th my son Judah was born, I shot a lot of his first moments, his first snuggles with my wife, and I had let almost 6 months go by before I took the film in to be developed, and then we got them back and I was just blown away.

Film photography has been to me, been therapy. In a fast world of now, now, now, film photography teaches you to be patient and let things develop. I am grateful for these images, and I am grateful to have a camera that will one day be my son’s, and I pray that he will be able to enjoy the magic of film photography using a camera that has gone through generations of our family. I have been urging everyone I meet that as we come through these hard trials in our lives, we need to understand that within all of us, is an ability to create.

So the next time you are wrought with grief or an insurmountable trial think of a roll of film, think of how it takes patience to get through a roll of film, and like trials, you don’t have any guarantees about what will be on the other side, but with diligent exposure and attention to detail, you can just do your best and hope that just as the film develops so do you through various trials of many kinds. So grateful for film photography, and I hope you are encouraged to get out there and paint with light!

~ Spencer

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