The Lookout

New Yorker’s mysterious photo quest ends in Paris

Screen shot 2011-03-09 at 11.17.17 AM

A Brooklyn man's quest to locate the owner of a roll of film he found in the snow in Prospect Park after a blizzard has ended with a reunion in Paris.

Todd Bieber stumbled upon the film canister while cross-country skiing after a 2010 Christmas blizzard that dumped more than a foot of snow over the city. Bieber developed the film and was captivated by the photos, which show what he surmised to be out-of-towners taking a snowy and beautiful journey from Central Park across the Brooklyn Bridge to an empty Coney Island amusement park, and then to Prospect Park, where they must have accidentally dropped the film canister.

Bieber's video about his quest quickly went viral, garnering over a million views. Thousands of people wrote offering tips and advice. Finally, he got the response he was looking for.

It turns out the photos were taken by a French student temporarily studying in America named Camille, whose brother was visiting her in New York when the storm hit. Camille's ex-roommate wrote to Bieber to say that she thought the photos were taken by Camille because she recognized the block outside her apartment. Bieber then decided to embark on a five-country road trip through Europe to track down Camille and return the photos.

He asked people in Europe who had emailed him about the video if he and his girlfriend could stay with them during their journey.

When he finally got to Paris, the meeting with Camille was a little awkward.

"We sat and drank tea and awkwardly talked," Bieber says in the video. "I threw her in this situation and posted photos of her family that ended up all over the Internet." She joked with Bieber that her family had started calling him the "boy Amelie," after the quirky character in the eponymous French movie who decides to change the lives of strangers around her.

Bieber tells the Lookout that Camille was happy to have her film back. "But could you imagine waking up one morning and finding out the whole internet is passing around pictures you took of your family on vacation?  Her initial reaction was appropriate given the circumstances," he says.

Bieber also met Camille's brother, who is pictured in her photos and is an artist. "Thank you for losing the film," he told them.

Bieber left his own roll of black-and-white film of the trip in Paris for a stranger to find, in hope that someone will track him down and have their own adventure.

The video he made of his road trip is above, and below is the original video about the photos he found:

(Bieber and Camille: Screenshot from Bieber's video)