By Leonard Powell of RNZ
An Auckland photographer has been reunited with her beloved camera four years after losing it, after a stranger got the film developed.
Ally Lase’s Pentax 35mm point-and-shoot camera was passed down from her late Nana.
“Nana would capture all our childhood memories on that camera. She went to Samoa when I was 12 years old, and passed away during her travels. My mum had to go through all her stuff and somehow I ended up with the camera.”
The camera led to a career in photography for Ally, but went missing when her partner borrowed it for a night in 2019 and could not recall where he had left it.
Ally, who was pregnant at the time, was devastated to lose the sentimental artefact.
However, the day after that fateful night four years ago, Grant Stone made a discovery while cleaning up after a party.
“This camera just showed up in the morning. I thought someone would hit me up and tell me that they left their camera, but no one ever did.”
Grant and his friends snapped the remaining four photos on the roll, but the camera was soon forgotten about.
“I did think to myself that the only way I could find out [the owner] was by developing it, but I guess I just put it in my cupboard or something and completely forgot about it.”
The camera remained out of sight, out of mind until recently, when Grant found it while moving flats. He got the film developed and saw who the likely owner was.
“There were a few mirror selfies with her, so I figured it was probably her camera. The fact they were pregnant ... I was just like, ‘This has to get back to this person’.”
After checking with friends and having no luck, Grant made an Instagram story with a photo of the woman’s face. Someone replied, saying it was Ally. He sent her a message to confirm.
“I opened up the photo and it was me with my pregnant tummy out. I was like, no way. It was so surreal. I cried, I was so excited.”
A film photographer by trade, Ally has multiple cameras worth far more that produce better pictures, but none as important as the Pentax.
Grant was thrilled to bring her so much joy, but the happiness was also tinged with some remorse.
“The reaction I got from Ally was everything that I wanted - I didn’t realise the camera belonged to her Nana or anything, so I was really stoked.
“But then also I felt even worse about taking so long because I was thinking, oh man, you’ve just been real gutted for so long.”
Ally joked that she would not be letting her partner borrow the camera again, and was excited to take photos of her now 3-year-old child with the same camera that her Nana had once used to capture her on film as a baby.