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Why do I Shoot with all of these Cameras? – Hoarding VS Enjoyability

The definition of hoarding according to the Mayo Clinic is: a persistent difficulty discarding or parting with possessions because of a perceived need to save them. A person with hoarding disorder experiences distress at the thought of getting rid of the items. Excessive accumulation of items, regardless of actual value, occurs.

I am guilty as charged, and I don’t mind, but I don’t feel distress in getting rid of them if they are going to someone else who appreciates them. I simply want to rescue them from being trashed.

The other day I was listening to my favorite podcast Sunny 16 episode 141 To Hoard or not to Hoard, and I got to thinking about my own collection and why I have so many cameras.

Graem, a host on the podcast, tried to explain why he likes cameras that are, in Ades opinion, useless doorstops, and it seemed to me they represent the two different types of film photographers: those who mainly care about the quality of the pictures their camera produces and those who thoroughly enjoy the entire process of taking the picture.

While I love taking good pictures, obviously all photographers do, I think there are those of us who appreciate an interesting camera more than we do just the photographs it produces.

I feel I am doing my part to save film photography in my way. I find cameras that may be thrown out, fix them, shoot with them and get my enjoyment out of them. I then review them on here and my YouTube channel, hopefully encouraging others to go out and do the same.

We all have our reasons why we started shooting with vintage cameras. (Face it, all film cameras are now considered vintage, at least in my eyes.) Some genuinely just want a well built machine that will give them great results. These people usually aren’t attached to their gear in any way. Then there’s those of us who want to rescue these cameras, as Rachel said in the episode, she goes to shops and sees these cameras and wants to rescue them from going in the trash.

That is how I feel. I feel almost a responsibility to try to fix the camera and bring it back to life. If I fail I actually feel a genuine disappointment in myself.

The Capitol 120 Box Camera
Taken with the Capitol 120 Box Camera

One camera that could be considered a doorstop, the box camera, is literally just a box with a tiny lens on it. Why would anyone still want to waste film with one of these? I can’t answer for anyone else, but for myself it’s the thought that another human being almost 100 years ago held this camera and saw their world through the same lens. It feels like a time capsule in my hands. Now it’s my turn to record my world with it and pass those pictures on.

Granted, those pictures aren’t the best you can get from a film camera, but I still get excited every time I get film back from the lab that actually came out exposed from a really old camera.

Argus Argoflex Seventy Five before I fixed the shutter
Argus Argoflex 75
Taken with an Argus Argoflex Seventy Five

To me these vintage cameras are small pieces of history that deserve our care and attention. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think bad of those who don’t care about saving an old camera, everyone sees things differently. We all have attachments to different objects in our lives. As Ade said in the show, his brain just doesn’t work like that. He just doesn’t see them in that way.

Just like one would spread awareness for a disease I feel that my blog reviews and YouTube videos are also a way of spreading awareness for an institution that will eventually die because these cameras will at some point become extinct. I think it’s this knowledge (unless some company decides to start making film cameras again) that makes photographers like me want to collect cameras and shoot with as many as I can, while I still can.

So let me know in the comments below, are you a self proclaimed vintage camera hoarder, or do you shoot with whatever is going to give you your best pictures?

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Check out my camera collection here, and go take a listen to the Sunny 16 Podcast on Podbean or iTunes.

10 thoughts on “Why do I Shoot with all of these Cameras? – Hoarding VS Enjoyability

  1. I love using vintage cameras but I’m also have a minimalist lifestyle, with very few personal possessions. Having said that, I do own five film cameras, all different: 2 SLRs, a rangefinder, a zone-focus (all 35mm) plus a medium-format SLR. In the next couple of years I’m planning to get that down to four by selling the zone-focus, and replacing the medium-format SLR with a TLR. Let’s see how that goes!

      1. If you have vision in both eyes, zone focus is not so hard, just needs practice 🙂 You might know some (all?) of these tricks already, but you can teach yourself to recognise some standard distances. Like how far away is something if you can reach out and touch it (length of your arm), or if you lay down and your head would touch it (your own height), is this distance longer than your living room, etc. Sometimes I play a game where I try to guess how far away something is, and then “measure” it with my SLR or rangefinder – that’s a good way to practice too, without wasting film. If you can drive you’re probably an excellent judge of distance already, just need to convert that intuitive knowledge to metres (or feet).

        The scale-focus marks on lenses can be a big help. At longer distances (say, more than 5 metres) there’s a lot more margin for error. Same goes for wider lenses and smaller apertures. Your estimation doesn’t need to be spot on.

        My zone-focus camera is a Rollei 35 and it’s such a pretty little machine that I will be a bit sad to part with it. But I don’t use it that much, almost always tend to pick one of other cameras. So I’d be happier knowing that it’s with someone who will use it. 🙂

  2. If it weren’t for financial limitations I’d probably own many more cameras. But I’ll still grab them when I see something vintage that I can afford. Maybe this is the same sickness that affects people who love old houses? They’re expensive, stuff breaks, but there is an intangible quality that makes you love them. I have a few digital cameras and if one broke I’d probably be irritated for a day, but I’d be genuinely upset if one of my film cameras broke. I get that same feeling of wondering “who owned this and where has it been?” when I use any of them.

  3. “guilty as charged”. Agree with most of the sentiments expressed in this article. Good article. Photography is history.

      1. I enjoy my 1914 Kodak No. 2 Brownie, Model D, every time I get it out. It takes 120 film, avoiding the whole 620 hassle! My only complaint about this camera is its tiny viewfinders.

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