My First Roll of Film

Envelope for processing film in 1971

50 years ago today, February 23 1971, my father brought home the prints and negatives from the first roll of film I ever shot. I still remember him walking in the door with the white envelope from Chick’s Camera Center in his hand. If you know where to look you can see the cost was 91 cents.

Diana plastic camera from 1971

The roll of Kodak black and white 120 film came with my first camera – a plastic, black and blue Diana. It was a gift from my grandparents, Grace and Pal. Based on subject matter, I probably received it for my 12th birthday in August 1970.

One of the only 2 photos to turn out is of my brother Neal as a baby sitting on our back porch with my mother’s hand resting on him. He was born in July 1970. The other is of my sister, Claudette and her friend Aggie, playing with their Barbie dolls on our front porch. That one is the first official photograph I ever took.

A couple of things that stand out to me is the wooden crate of empty Pepsi bottles and my banana bike in the lower right corner.

I must have also been disappointed on that day in Feb 1971, when only 2 prints came back. After all, for whatever reason, I had waited 4-5 months to have the film processed. Not like now when you can see the photo instantly. However, I was excited when I found the package recently with film and prints intact. I do wish though, that there had been a photo of my mother and father in there. A couple of other frames were of nothing special of the yard and blurred from double exposures. The rest were exposed to some very bad light leaks. Although the Diana cameras are known for their light leaks, these were probably due to my lack of experience.

Black and white negatives of 120 film shot in 1970 with Diana camera

Charles Register is a North Carolina photographer and videographer with over 30 years experience producing quality, creative imagery for corporations, advertising agencies, magazines and small businesses in boardrooms, resorts and remote locations around the world.  Emphasis on travel and tourism, master planned communities, lifestyle, environmental portraiture, architectural photography, scenic landscapes and golf courses. Contact for assignments at 919 414.8235 or and please visit

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Raleigh, North Carolina photographer

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