Man develops 70-year-old film from second-hand camera

Martijn van Oers' greatest passion in life is photography. Beyond creating his own picture series to tell short stories, the Dutchman is also fascinated by cameras and the technology behind them.

His enthusiasm for photography recently allowed him to open up a gateway to the past and delve into the lives of three unknown faces.

While shopping at a thrift store, Martijn bought a Zeiss Ikon 520/2 — an old folding medium-format camera from 1929. To his surprise, he found a roll of film in this camera which, he later discovered, dated back to the 1940s.

With his curiosity aroused, Martijn wondered whether the old Kodak film could still be developed and, if so, what the photos would show.

Martijn then contacted his friend Johan Hollemann, who has many years of experience in developing film. He kindly agreed to help Martijn get to the bottom of this mystery.

Johan set up a small photo lab in his kitchen and carefully got to work on the Kodak film. Martijn documented the entire process.

Martijn described how he and Johan were left stunned when they removed the processed film from the container — there actually appeared to be images on the negatives.

The two photographers were delighted to find that four of the photos contained enough recognizable details.

Johan scanned the images onto his computer. One of the pictures shows the man who probably owned the Zeiss Ikon, since he is seen holding the bag for the camera. Various women appear in the other photos.

After Martijn posted the pictures on Facebook, his friend Wilco Westerduin quickly got in touch to tell him that he recognized the places shown in the images. The photos were taken in Biarritz, a small town in southwestern France.

Wilco even traveled to Biarritz with his girlfriend Coralie to re-enact the images shown in the original pictures.

"Looking at the images, I feel I stumbled across a small treasure chest — or time capsule — giving us a tiny glimpse into the past," Martijn said. He now wants to find out who the people in the pictures were and one day hopes to hand over the negatives to the unknown photographer's relatives.




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