a journey in photography with grandaddy

  • Polaroid Land Camera 440 that belonged to my Great Grandaddy Ollie
  • A scanned and blown-up photo that he took while stationed in India during the 1940s (film type and camera model that he used to take the photo are currently unidentified) 
  • A photo of me in my Grandaddy's lap during the holidays circa 1995
  • A test shot I took today using the Land Camera - the first time the camera has taken a photo in 50 years

Recently I have started a journey into the past, researching and learning about the cameras my Great Grandfather Ollie Shannon Swift (along with my Great Grandmother) used when he was younger. When he passed away a couple years ago he left his estate to his grandsons, and I ended up with the honor of receiving his collection of cameras. Among the cameras was the Land Camera 440 you see above. Today was the first day a fresh film pack has been loaded into it since the last time he used it many many years ago.

With anxious hands I loaded the Fujifilm FP-100c film pack into the back of the camera and reviewed the steps in my mind of how to actually make a photo. I walked to the bathroom and framed the shot - a self portrait in the mirror. I fired the shutter and sat down to pull the peel-apart film from the camera. I pulled the exposure out and waited the appropriate time until I seperated the negative from the positive. 

As I gently pulled the two pieces of paper apart my stunned eyes fell upon a photograph. I couldn't believe the camera could still capture images! The "selfie" I took, although blurry and a tad underexposed, seems an insignificant moment to capture, however the fact that I am the next person after my Grandaddy to have taken a photo on that camera is significant.

Other than a knack for photography, my Grandaddy and I share another significant thing in common. We have both spent time in India. He, as an American soldier during the second world war. Me, a handful of trips sprinkled over the past three years working with Asha Mission Children's Home and Ashraya Mission.

Although my Great Grandfather is gone, he is still present in our connection with photography and India. He is present in my passion for both of these things. I'm on a journey to figure out what these connections mean and how I can use them together to keep a relationship with him alive. I hope you follow along with me on this journey. 


hannah grace

Check back soon to see more photos of Grandaddy Ollie in India during the '40s.