My father died in the May of 1999, but it wasn’t until the December of 2020 that I was unexpectedly gifted his Nikon FG-20 by the executors of my late mother’s estate.
Initially dismissing the camera as an entry level 35mm it was consigned to a cupboard, not as a camera that I would use, but as the only item I had from my childhood home. However, with the camera there were a few developed negatives; taken by my father some thirty years ago on his only visit to America. Not only were they sharp and beautifully composed, but they also showed the talented photographer he was.
I remember as a child him showing me the many slides he had taken whilst based in the far east during his RAF career; in particular one of a roaring lion, which he always told me was just the lion yawning! There were also numerous photographs he took of me as a small child, but sadly these few negatives, of an unknown place in the US, are all I have. Where his collection of photographs, slides and negatives are I don’t know, I’m not even sure if they still exist.
It was on suggestion of a friend that I decided to run a roll of film through the camera, just to see if it still worked … this was then followed by various different film stocks, including my fathers preferred reversal film.
This little entry level 35mm Nikon has now become my everyday camera, and with it has come a renewed connection with a man who was not only a great photographer, but also my much-loved dad. The tatty black leather strap has been replaced, but other than that it is just as my father would have used it. It has been on seaside visits, to the first festival following the pandemic, and next month it will come along to my graduation.
Family rifts can cause long lasting negativity, but I am a great believer in that all things happen for a reason, and this little camera finding its way to me has healed a little hole in my heart. I hope my dad approves of the photographs I have taken with his camera …