The lost art of the end of the roll photograph

One of the lost arts of the digital age is the end of the roll photograph. These were the pictures taken, almost at random, so that a film could be developed before the significance of the events captured in the earlier frames was forgotten. These are some of my favourite examples from my father’s archives.


Market Cross Malmesbury 1951The market cross in Malmesbury, Wiltshire, taken in summer 1951. This is on the end of a roll of film that features a holiday in Devon, so this must have been the stopping point on the way back to the Midlands. The woman on the right hand side of the photograph doesn’t look as if she’s having a very good day.

Haste ye back to ScotlandTaken at some point in the mid-1950s as the last photograph from a holiday in Scotland, this end of the roll photograph was presumably a heartfelt wish. It was certainly a popular destination when we went on holiday as a family in the 1970s.

Hanging basket 1983A random photograph of the hanging basket outside our house from 1983. Looking at the angle of the picture I can only assume that it was taken from halfway up a step-ladder!

GNU 706NAnd finally, also from the end of a roll of film shot in 1983 a rear view of my first car that I don’t remember ever having seen before I scanned the negative yesterday evening. Complete with a Radio Derby car sticker from the era before the BBC insisted on imposing a boring corporate brand uniformity across all their local radio stations and a fluffy toy owl on the parcel shelf.

Which leads me to ask a question every bit as random as these end of the roll photographs are. Has anyone ever used a parcel shelf in a car for putting parcels on? No, I thought not.

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Reader Comments

    • tim

      I’d been having similar thoughts myself. I’ve had a look through lots of my old flms now as well as those my father took and there are some very odd ones! I’d love to see your project if you decide to go ahead.

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