I was talking with another photographer recently and he brought up that he misses hanging out at camera shops.
I knew exactly what he meant. In the days of film, that was the place to meet, to see gear, talk and hang out with other photographers.
There was still a little bit at risk when making a photograph. And skill needed. It could be that the photos wouldn’t turn out, the exposure was off. Or the subject moved. We talked about techniques. We talked about photographic subjects. We talked photography.
I worked at The Camera Shop Inc. in the Oxford Valley Mall as a teenager, upstairs by Bamberger’s, if I recall correctly. It was such a good job, and we got to meet all the local photographers and shutterbugs who’d come in.
That’s all gone, in this age of digital phone snaps. There’s no more photography, with all the skills and tricks, there’s just the phone.
Snap, swipe, never look at it again.
When they added electronics, the big box stores like Best Buy and Circuit City took over the camera sales, and put the small camera shops out of business. Not all, but many. And many of the shops lived on film processing profits, and digital photography knocked that out, too.
This is Central Camera in Chicago, a favorite place of Vivian Maier, if you know her story. If not, look her up. You’re in for a treat. She’d hang out there.
Back when we hung out as photographers.