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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Spencer Cameron

I am a video producer and part time photographer. I live in Virginia with my beautiful wife and my amazing son. We are very blessed and love to enjoy hikes in the mountains, finding new book stores and taking pictures of all the blessings we get to enjoy in...

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  1. This is an inspiring story in so many ways. I look forward to “5 frames on my grandfather’s Nikkormat” in 18 years time 😉

  2. Beautiful photos and a beautiful story! You will treasure these forever. I still enjoy the photos I took our boys’ births (they are now 17 and 14), also on HP5+! For this “can’t fail” moment I used my most trusted camera, a Pentax K1000, and my most trusted film! Thank you for sharing your story and your pictures. They made my day.

  3. My wife had a difficult pregnancy with our daughter. I was in the middle of teaching a HS woodworking class when I got the ‘come quick, I’m in labor!’ Out the door, mad drive to the hospital, and a 48 hour labor. The doc & I delivered a healthy girl. I shot the whole thing with a Nikon FTn/50mm f/1.4 Nikkor. Tri-X. 37 years ago. Your beautiful shots brought me back to that crazy, blurred time. I remember feeling in awe of what I participated in. The birth of a child, a tiny human. A little girl who, to this day, costs me $$$ whenever she comes home to visit! You have the most unique, never before seen images of your wife and child. The only person in the world that has this miracle on film. That makes you the world’s greatest photographer!