Tag Archives: camera

Like A Kid In A Camera Store

I grew up in the sixties and seventies in Southern California and my father, an avid photographer used to take me to many camera stores.  He bought me my first Kodak Instamatic when I was nine, and though it is long gone, it has been replaced by an exact replica, as  I now collect cameras.  These old camera stores were cool with all the iconography and signage of the era, the  Kodak displays, and the faint smell of stop bath from the back room.  My dad could spend an hour chatting f-stops and fixer dilution with the guy behind the counter.  Maybe he’d pickup a new wide angle lens, or a yellow filter, or maybe just some lens cleaning tissue.  There are few such places left, but most have gone from darkrooms to self serve kiosks, and from negatives to pixels. The only cameras marketed to kids today are based on lame cartoon characters, though back in the day there were of plenty Barbie cameras too. ( we can argue Barbie v Dora The Explorer later)

Along with the recent resurgence of film has come a new generation of analog camera lovers.  When you combine that with return of “Polaroid” style instant films and Polaroid camera users you get kind of a Father and Son meeting all over again.  At Photoworks, I thought it would be fun to sell a few used cameras.  I started out with some Polaroids, and now have all sorts of used film cameras.  I can’t keep the stuff on the shelves, and the whole vibe of the shop has picked up with the new camera offerings.

Now I’m searching eBay for SX-70 cameras, and old signs to decorate the shop.  Everyday some new camera comes in the mail.  I clean them up, put them on display, and then they are gone.  For the first time in 23 years, I have people asking me for a ” 28mm nikkor” as if I’m an actual camera store.  I say, “let me check in the back for you,” even though there is no “back.”  So, I am clearly enjoying all of this camera business, and something about it has rekindled some nostalgia in me.   Maybe we’ll have to bring back the old darkroom, now that would make my Dad proud.

Come to Papa

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The Sweet Bird Of Youth

This post has little to do with the Tennessee Williams play or the Paul Newman film based on the title.  I just like the phrase, and since I’ve turned fifty I’ve become horribly nostalgic.  I have a new employee at Photoworks.  He is in his early twenties, and I hate him because he has such a bright future.  Just kidding.  I can say he has a bright future because he is so genuinely enthusiastic about his job, and has such an upbeat outlook on life and the pursuit of photography.  When I go to a chain store I get a false “have a nice day” greeting even though it might be 11:00 at night.  “J” as I will refer to him greets every customer with sincerity and when he says, “how is your day going?”  He actually really wants to know.  I’ve had some other staff here in the past that would not bother to make eye contact, and the typical camera store worker is pretty detached and at best a snob.  Why is J smiling all the time, why don’t I smile more?  Shit, I own the joint.  Now the kid is not perfect, half the crap on his ipod is annoying and I’m not even sure I like his photos, oh and he’s running a bit of tab on his own work, but who cares?

I can’t just pigeonhole J’s attitude as youthful exuberance, because there are plenty of mean 23 year old’s walking around town scowling.  I can only say that this “kid” gets it, and that he actually loves film photography so much that he can’t wait to tell every customer about the fine grain of Ektar 100.  So at 50 years old, and after standing in the same spot for 23 years, I am getting some new energy for my job in the form of J’s positive attitude.

Customer service, what a concept.

                                                                                             Just Happy To Be Here

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Root Root Root For The Film Team

“And if they don’t win it’s a shame.”  Well it seems like the film team is going to win after all.  Much like the SF Giants, the film shooters are a band of over achieving misfits coming together at just the right time.  And like our World Series Champs, the film team was born out of  disenfranchisement .  In this case a frustration with digital photography as an art form.  I’m certain that The SFAI teaches plenty on digital photography, but isn’t it ironic that many people I meet prefer to explore the boundaries of film and alternative processes.  The toy camera, holga, and lomo are the low fidelity player’s choice around here.

This Friday we will hold a reception here at Photoworks to prove the point.  Hope you can join us, and meet the members of the San Francisco Toy Camera Club, or as I call them, The Film Team.  ( certainly not misfits)

"doubles" not really about baseball

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Analog Debauchery

I received an email from someone asking if I would process some film that he had found in his desk.  The rolls of film he said were very old, from his “college days”  back in the eighties.  As a member of the Class of ’84, I was intrigued and it made me remember how back in the early days of one hour photo printing, subject matter was always a concern.  Remember the days of “caught on film?”  There even used to be a company called Discreet Photo Services.  You could  mail order film to this so called safe haven, and get your pot plant photos back without any risk of some Walmart employee calling the cops.

When I printed photos here at the lab, I have to admit I did look twice at the sexy photos every now and then, but we never considered making copies of things, it was just a perk  (sorry) of the job, and of course you lose interest after you’ve worked here a bit.  Nowadays the workers here don’t even blink at what comes through as there is so much free crap like Girls Gone Wild, that we have become immune to any tantalizing photos that we see.  I want to make it clear that we conduct ourselves professionally. We look at every photo to insure quality of color, etc, and believe me some stuff we’d rather not see.   And we don’t run down the hallway saying , “ooh I just saw a boob photo.”  Okay, there was this one sordid moment that happened many years ago, and the worker was quickly sacked.  The lab tech in question had printed a roll of film and decided to show another customer some “super hot photos.”  The customer has a look at the photos  and says, “that’s my girlfriend.”   Small town I guess.

It’s amazing how little discretion the amateur photographer has today.  Much like people volunteer personal information on Facebook, people also seem cavalier about photos, and what they are willing to show.   Has digital made us lower our guard?  Racy photos used to be better too.  I think that’s why they invented grain because some things are better kept in low light or low fi, or even arty.

So now that you are confident in our discretion here at Photoworks, go ahead and send in those rolls of film that you find in an old camera or sock drawer.  I promise you, I WON’T LOOK…….

nothing to hide?

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If You Love Her, Get Her A Camera

Been looking at the new Nikon 7000/ million, some camera huh?  Looks like you can shoot in deep space with that thing.  Despite my passion for film, you’d have to be nuts not to want a camera like this.  My birthday is in May.

Need to get my betrothed something for V Day, and would like to avoid a Hallmark moment.  I found this amazing camera here.

The Lady Carefree, which I believe used to be available on makeup counters in your finer department stores.  An unfortunate name for a camera especially if you’re a dude or a feminist…  So I will present this little gift today and see what happens.  She will probably ask for the iphone 4, but this is better because it comes with a rose.

above from: http://www.flickr.com/photos/32214524@N00/1806297604

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“How About Two of Each Today Sir”

Here’s another post about the good old days of photo processing……..Believe it or not I actually took a course in how to develop film and operate a One Hour Photo establishment.  Circa 1987, though our store was to be here in San Francisco, the course was offered in Minnetonka, Minnesota, the actual One Hour Photo capital of the world.  So when I say I’m an expert, I can back it up.   One of the things we learned in the course was to up sell customers.  The script went like this, “matte or glossy, 3 1/2 x 5 or 4×6 prints, would you like a second set?”  I’d say at least half the people went for the double prints.

Nowadays it’s a struggle to get anyone to print at all.  Just for kicks I broke out with the old “how about a second set today” line the other day.  The customer responded by saying that it was a “waste of paper and bad for the environment.”   Seems like a weird place to take a stand if you ask me.  I once lived in an old house that was wallpapered with photos.  Now I live a less cluttered life, and like many of you my “mess” is confined to my computer’s hard drive and my phone.

Speaking of prints, there is a new show up for viewing at Photoworks.  We are proud to display the work of Aeschleah DeMartino. These pieces are striking to say the least.  Moody, joyously morbid, posed yet voyeristic.

I asked our artist for a bio, but she was humble and did not send much.  I’ll use the old cliche and say that these images speak volumes.  Perhaps some of you will be inspired to print some of your own work, and remember to ask for, “two of each.”

dh

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Holga Hot Tub Time Machine

I wanted to remind everyone that there is still time to sign up for the big holga workshop on Sat Aug 21st.

get your camera wet

You can find the details in our flickr group.http://www.flickr.com/groups/photoworkssf/  We’ll teach you a bit about the holga camera, we’ll go down the coast and shoot some pictures, and then we’ll drink beer and get naked n the photoworks SF hot tub. Sound fun? How about everything before the getting naked part?

As a bonus we’ll be printing a magazine to commemorate the event.  The images will be pulled from what we shoot that day.  I am also thinking about some holga related activities for the workshop.  Holga relay race, holga toss, musical holgas, holga truth or dare, and of course, the holga dance contest.  So, if haven’t yet  signed up, get a hold of me here at photoworks.  Space in the hot tub is limited.

dh

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Photos With Santa

I was over at Serramonte Mall the other day, a God forsaken pit of a shopping mall, but it’s the closest thing to my house so I’m stuck with it.  Anyway, I was with my kid so we checked out the whole pose with Santa program.  Sit on Santa’s lap, take a picture, and then buy the obligatory print package of say, 4 wallets and a 5×7.  When did 4 wallets and a 5×7 become a $20.00 item?  Maybe if that was the real Kris Kringle, but this Santa wasn’t even fat.  He was some skinny ass hippy from Daly City.  And, the photos are not even on real photo paper.  They are printed on a xerox photo printer by some 16 year old kid.  Sorry Son, we’ll have to skip this.  Can I buy you an ice cream cone instead?

This got me to thinking about a story my dad once told me about his first job.  He was 15 years old, this would have been about 1940.  He worked as a photographer for a company called Kidnappers.  He would go door to door with a camera and lights offering to photograph children.  He would take the pictures and then stay up all night developing the film and making contact sheets.  He would deliver the proofs to the houses the next day and take print orders for 8×10’s, etc…People would serve him coffee and cake while they made their selections.

Can you imagine trying to get in someone’s door nowadays with a camera, wanting to photograph children?  You would need 5 forms of ID and you’d still wouldn’t get through the door.  I wonder what would happen if I brought Santa door to door, offering that same service, but inside the comfort of your own home?  Not that lousy shopping mall Santa either…………..HO HO HO.

dh

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Drugstore Film Developing is Cool

Yeah I’m bitter, but this really annoys me!  There is a growing contingent of people here and mainly online via discussions who have flocked to drugstores, walgreens, costco, target, and various other crap ass discount chains to get film processed.  I get why, cause we are all penniless now.  Believe me I understand.  They charge 2.00 bucks or 02 cents, or free, I charge more.

My problem is not with people needing a more affordable situation.  I do have a problem with this dork on a certain popular photo sharing site who has devoted his life to seeking out cheap places to process film.  He has an on going thread about “keeping it affordable.”  Like he’s some super sleuth, the capped crusader of film developing because he has found that if he asks for JimBob at the Wallmart in Peoria that he will get his film developed cheap and without scratches.

Why do I hate this so much?? Because if enough people go this route, there will be no more photo labs, and when Walgreens decides they can’t make enough money developing film for .99 cents then it’s over for all of us.  I like to consider myself a high end place, so many drugstore film developers are not my customers anyway, but I do need the students and hobbyists.  So if you are looking to save a few bucks, why not take advantage of my student discount, or better yet try negotiating with me or other lab owners, maybe gather your film in bulk for a better price.  Hey if you’re really hurtin’ then you gotta go where you it’s affordable for you, but please don’t go around broadcasting the fact like you are consumer advocate out to save us, you’re just making it worse for guys like me.

dh (selfish and bitter photo lab owner)

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The History Of Photoworks Part 2

My Partners Mike and Leslie Looking the Part

My Partners Mike and Leslie Looking the Part

Halloween circa 1993. Since we are on the border of the Castro district of San Francisco, I thought it would be a fun idea to crash the big costume party. The event had become a magnet for the bridge and tunnel crowd to come and photograph all the wild and crazies. And with the locals all bringing cameras as well, the event seemed worthy of capitalizing on. I decided that we would walk the streets as vendors selling film and disposable cameras. I called my Kodak rep and said we had this event that may draw 100,000 people, and it is a few blocks from our store. He agreed to provide disposable cameras and film. I did not realize just how much film and cameras until the truck arrived with the boxes. They had fronted us around 20 grand worth of stuff to sell so the pressure was on.

On the night of the event there were 6 of us armed with ridiculous Kodak aprons and hats as we prepared to hit the streets. A few hours earlier I began to have my doubts about this task, and I soon realized this may be a big mistake. Decided to have a few drinks for fortification. When we got to the big party it was packed with Halloween revelers. No one was selling anything except weed. We looked like complete dorks. People thought I was in costume. The few folks who asked to buy something were turned off by the price. One guy gave me a 100.00 bill for a 2.99 cent roll of film. Someone dumped a dacquiri on my head. This is pre cell phone so I had little idea how my fellow salesman were doing, but I decided I’d had enough abuse and slinked back to Photoworks. When I arrived I saw all of my people had bailed out and returned to base even before I had.

TOTAL SALES: $45.00 Not exactly Apprentice material. Let’s just say that if I were project manager I’d have been “fired.”

Next day I had to call the Kodak rep and explain the bad news. The unsold merchandise was picked up at my cost, and Kodak suspended my account. This was one of our lowest moments for sure, but not as bad as my attempt to capitalize on the Sf Gay Pride  Day Parade (pre pc renaming) I’ll share that sad story another time.

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