Not the Camera Store One Usually Expects

Dave, Pat and Sam at Enman's Camera shop

Photographer Edward Weston said, “Photography suits the temper of this age – of active bodies and minds. It is a perfect medium for one whose mind is teeming with ideas, imagery, for a prolific worker who would be slowed down by painting or sculpting, for one who sees quickly and acts decisively, accurately.”

I included that quote because the words “temper of this age” to me seem perfect for both the time we are living in and, if you looked at the accompanying image, long time photographers enjoying a rebirth in this exciting medium.

There is not much that I enjoy more than spending time with other photographers. Whether it is pointing my camera at some subject, or just hanging out talking about any and all things photography, it is always a good time.

I don’t remember when it started exactly, but some years ago several photographers started hanging out Thursday mornings at my shop. The discussions, over coffee and doughnuts and are usually about photography, are more often then not lively and heated disagreements are not at all unusual.

After all, like the medium of photography itself, photographers each come with their own personal views of how and what should be photographed and which camera best accomplishes those personal views.

It’s that diversification of opinion that keeps me interested and, I guess, entertained, and I admit I really look forward to Thursday mornings, with the sometimes filled with talk and sometimes photography sessions with a makeshift studio in the large meeting area behind the space I rent.

The numbers change. There are days with only two or three, like the accompanying picture, while other times the only room left for anyone is to stand behind the equipment counters.

I only open on Thursday, Friday and for a half-day on Saturday, except for when I host my Saturday morning mini-sessions, and my store sells anything photographic I can find. The term “used” is my preference, but with the interest in studio type photography in the last few years, I have been searching out off-camera lighting equipment distributors more and more.

I meet lots of photographers that claim to be passionate about photography. I don’t know if passionate is a word I would easily use for myself.  I guess I could say the words of Master photographer, Wynn Bullock, best describe my feelings about photography when he said, “I decided to become a photographer because it offered a means of creative thought and action. I didn’t rationalize this, I just felt it intuitively and followed my intuition, which I have never regretted.”

I could easily hide away in a studio and did for years let clients take up all my time. But now I prefer to keep my options and interest open regarding my subjects and photograph everything, no matter what, with the same intensity.

As I wrote in the beginning, there is not much that I enjoy than spending time with other photographers. And my shop certainly isn’t the usual kind of camera store. Yes, there are glass counters filled with all sorts of used photography equipment and some shelves with bags and unusual items. There are tripods and light stands blocking the window and sometimes a box or two marked “free stuff” and pictures are hanging on the walls or standing on shelves.

Things change; I never am sure what I have for customers used to those big stores that always stock their shelves with the same items. But one entering will, of course, find chairs for sitting on and talking from. People asking me questions about anything photo-related will find their time well spent, and if they see something interesting I’ll actually go behind the counter, but usually my favourite location is sitting on the other side talking with other photographers about photography.


I always welcome comments. Thank you, John

My website is at


6 responses to “Not the Camera Store One Usually Expects

  1. You depict your store just how I think of it! It’s one of those places that make you glad you do photography! Always positive energy and new (and old) ideas to try out. If I want to learn something about photography your store is the place to go!
    Thanks for the many years of fantastic “used” and new equipment and the many hours of teaching. …hummm makes me wonder what I should try this week….


  2. You seem to offer a nice and personal point of difference to those photographic department stores who are only interested in a quick sale. I’d be your customer if I lived in your area.


  3. Sounds an idyllic place to visit, like some old book stores I knew of in York; go in not really knowing if you wanted anything. Come out feeling happy and a book wrapped in brown paper and string.
    Unfortunately stores run with your sort of passion are few and far between these days.



    • Since digital technology happened it is very hard to keep a float. Collectors are few and very far between. Once a 10+ year old camera could make just as good a picture as a brand new camera. All the wonderful medium format and large format cameras are things of the past. (as I think I have become).
      But heck, my strange little store insn’t in the best part of town. it’s fun for me and some others…so I shall carry on. I should get some brown paper and string.


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