For many, photography is just a hobby to pass the time. For some, it’s a profession meant to provide for friends and family. For just a few, photography and the art of image making is a way of life.
Filmmaker Andrea Casanova interviewed a mystery man simply known as “The Camera Collector” in this brief yet fascinating documentary. Though he had no interest in sharing his true identity with the world, he did agree to share just a fraction of his collection of vintage camera equipment, photographs, and accessories. For english subtitles, simply click the “cc” icon on the video:
The Camera Collector’s interest has spanned over 55 years. When he first arrived home with a Leica in tow, his father reprimanded him for his purchase. Ever since, he’s made it a point to prove to others the value of a camera.
At first, he studied hard to make a career out of photography. But as he learned about the romantic history behind the medium, he became increasingly enamored by the antiquated oddities and outdated tools photographers of the past once treasured.
Today, among collections of books describing the ins and outs of the trade written decades ago, The Camera Collector possesses an extensive archive of daguerreotypes, tin types, and cartes de visite from the earliest days of photography. Though the names of the subjects have long been forgotten, he treasures each image as if it depicted his closest family member. Also within his studio are cameras made over a century ago, preserved with the utmost care.
As he describes the intricacies of each piece, it’s easy to sense the pride in the Collector’s voice. Even after years and years of picking up new pieces, he’s able to rattle off specific details differentiating each piece from another. Toys and knockoffs have just as much a place in his heart as the fine bellowed large format cameras of yesteryear.
Though his name might always remain a mystery, his devotion and dedication resonates. Through his anecdotes and personal narratives, it’s easy to recognize the drive, intrigue, and love that lies within the core of every photographer, young and old.
“I’ve been buying everything that concerns photography. Every time I had some money left, I decided to buy something. Pretty, ugly, damaged, whatever…I entirely devoted my life to my shop and business in general.”
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