Every year at this time I attend one of my favorite events, the Vancouver Camera Show and Swap Meet. It was held again this past weekend and the Vancouver Camera Swap meet welcomed both vendors and buyers for a very enjoyable day. Put on by the Western Canada Photographic Historic Association, and organized by Siggi and Brigitte Rohde, this long-running show has now reached its 36th year and makes the claim of being the largest (and maybe the best) in Canada with well over 1,000 people walking through the doors of the Cameron Recreation Centre (adjacent to Lougheed mall) where it was held.
A large photography and sale like the Vancouver Swap meet brings out an amazing diversity of photographers and what could be better then spending a day surrounded by a vast array of cameras, photography equipment, and talking with other photographers? I’ve been attending over 20 years and for me it’s a great place to sell photography equipment, and it’s a fun day of meeting old friends and making new acquaintances.
My wife and I drove from Kamloops the day before and stayed overnight so I would be fresh for an early start the next day. As I entered, there is a buzz from other vendors busy setting up, talking, buying, and selling to each other. I greeted lots of people I have known for years, and then prepared my table to be ready for the swap meets’ early bird shoppers who pay a premium to shop exclusively starting at 9am. By 10am with the regular admission I was busy showing, demonstrating, explaining, and, of course, bargaining with photographers looking for whatever desirous item they had spotted and hoping for a deal that was just as sweet.
Every year I go wondering what the latest trends are, or what is popular with photographers I will meet there. This year I noticed a change in those I am accustomed to seeing. Many long time sellers and attendees I have known from previous years were absent and were replaced by a much younger crowd. The easy answer might be, like me, they are growing older. But I think it also might have to do with photography’s changing times, and for those that want to hang on to the “good old days”, so that modern technology and how young photographers are using it might be quite unnerving. In previous years I could expect to be accosted by aging “experts” that shuffled up to my table. They usually weren’t there to buy anything, and mostly were only there to show sellers and buyers how much they know, and how much experience they had. This year most of those I have become familiar with over the years were noticeably absent and, in spite of how exasperating some were, I missed them.
Young photographers stopping by my table introduced (for me anyway) a new way of doing photography. I had brought many older, manual-focusing lenses expecting there might be some individuals keen about “retro” equipment and interested in using older cameras from the 1970s and early 1980s, but that didn’t seem to be so this year. This year photographer’s would lay adaptors for different lenses on the table and try different manual lenses with each. They were using modern digital SLR cameras and the adapters allowed them to use the old lenses. And where I would have chosen a focal-length lens like 70mm or longer and stood back to take a portrait, these innovative photographers were selecting 28mm and 50mm lenses, and then moving in very close for portraits of each other when they tested out the lenses. Photography is certainly not a static medium and is constantly changing.
In my opinion, an occasion like the Vancouver Swap is a perfect place to meet other photographers, learn what others are doing, and of course find excellent deals on many kinds of photographic equipment. Whether buying, selling, or just having a good time with other photographers, other than actually taking pictures, I couldn’t recommend a better way to spend one’s time.
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