• Michelle Levy

Finding the Perfect Antique Camera


My journalism professor's house was a photography lover's dream.

One year I was lucky enough to explore it when our class was invited over for a Christmas party.

As students mingled over hot chocolate, and bragged about their white elephant gift spoils, I solitarily drifted over to the fireplace. Antique cameras adorned the mantel and hearth, each with their unique casings piquing my curiosity, like costumes in a steampunk contest.

It was an eclectic mixture, from the simple pinhole-style camera enclosed in a black boxy plastic casing, to the cameras that collapsed into small leather briefcases, only to pop open like jack-in-a-boxes with their colorful bellows protruding, displaying lenses of various sizes.

This beautiful museum-like display, my journalism professor, with her career as a newspaper editor and creative photographer husband, appealed to my bohemian side. She had somehow achieved the dream us wannabe journalists were aspiring to, along with the house in the suburbs, and the 2.5 children.

My awe and pursuit of the dream dissipated a few months after graduation when my newspaper internship turned freelancing job ended abruptly, with the closure of the newspaper, and the looming collapse of the economy.

The dream would reawaken, intermittently, years later, in times of hope and times of struggle, triggered by memories of the past.

The gift is still there, it whispered.

__________

After an outing in San Angelo, Texas with family, I meandered into an antique shop. Mixed in between antique typewriters, vintage records, textbooks, old newspapers, and kitchenware, century-old cameras sat on the shelves, some with their original boxing and instruction manuals, listing off their state-of-the-art features.

I picked up a Kodak Brownie and quickly did a comparison check on the price on eBay using my smartphone. I set the camera back down and began to head toward the door. As I faced the checkout counter, a powder blue camera on the shelf caught my eye. I picked it up, inspected the accordion-like bellows, checked the price, and made my purchase.


My powder blue Kodak Petite now sits on the corner of my mantel, a daily reminder of the dream that is re-birthed with each blog post, job application, and glance at the fireplace.

The gift is still there, it whispers.

#photography #cameras #antiques #antiquing #writer

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