I am a photographer, a camera collector, and a huge photo history nerd. I got into photography at a young age. My black and blue Fisher Price camera was always around my neck. But, I didn’t become interested in collecting cameras until I was in college. As I learned about alternative techniques, and studied photographic history, my interest in vintage cameras peeked. After I graduated, I only had a few that I picked up from a local antique shop. I had borrowed some to experiment with, but I had to return them.
So when my best friend offered to give me a box of old cameras from her grandma’s house, I was ecstatic. I was reluctant to play around with them at first. Her family trusted me, and I didn’t want to cause damage to them. There was so much of her family history in this one box. I have since taken them out and played with some of them. They are still on loan to me, and if any member of her family wants them back, I will be sad to see them go.
I also have cameras from my own family. Again, one that belonged to my own grandma is my favorite. It’s a Kodak box camera that she was known to carry with her wherever she went. My grandpa gave it to me, and it’s something I will have with me forever.
My camera collection is modest, compared to some I’ve seen. I don’t have the most expensive ones, or the most rare. A few cameras won’t open, or the shutters get stuck. Others require defunct film sizes. A lot of them are junky or super dirty. But, all of them have a story.
When I get a new camera, I wonder what that story might be. I love to think of all the photos that were taken with it. Maybe it was used for family vacations, or possibly to document special events. Unlike a postcard, I can’t read the message, or look at the postmark, to get information of who it belonged to, or where it came from. All I have is what is told to me. I can only speculate the rest.
Hi! I'm Lori. I live in Rochester, NY, and teach for the Community Darkroom & Studio 678 at the Genesee Center for the Arts and Education. I love old cameras, film, and working in the darkroom.
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