The April 2018 Vancouver Camera Swap Meet 


The time seems to move so darned fast, has it really been six months since I just wrote about one of my favourite yearly photo events, The Vancouver Camera Swap Meet?

There was a three-day break in the heavy snow that has frequently blocked the high mountain road between Kamloops and Vancouver, and we snuck through. As I am writing this, the news report is predicting heavy snowfall and recommending extreme caution for anyone that absolutely must drive the Coquihalla highway to coastal cities.

We made it, and in spite of three days of pouring rain my friend Laurie and I had a great time. As always, we ate and drank too much and stayed up too late the night before. Nevertheless, we were up early, ate a good breakfast (with lots of coffee) and arrived by 8:00AM to spread out our array of camera equipment on the table we had rented, walked around for a quick visit with long time friends that I have been meeting once or twice a year for the past twenty years, and looked at and drooled over all the exciting photographic equipment waiting for the doors to be open to the public at 9AM.

As usual there was a rush of people as they vied for positions at each table. I will say that there is never rude pushing and shoving, those avid photographers are quite adept at peering between those in front and somehow are able to reach with long arms to pick up the camera or lens they spied.

I have never had anything stolen, but I will admit to being on edge when there is a rush of excited photographers at my table. Keeping an eye on something picked up off my table and answering questions about six different items all at the same time is unnerving.

That said, what actually happens is I get to make a lot of new friends very fast. And there are always those that come up with a wide grin and say hello as they remind me about something they bought from me last year. My feeling is that I am in a large, noisy room filled with a thousand friends.

I have written before that the Vancouver Camera Swap is filled with a diversity of human beings that I enjoy. Photography brings people of all kinds of lifestyles, interests, and photographic specialties together. Everyone is interested in photography, whether film and vintage cameras, or modern digital technology, it’s just all about photography and can be found set out on someone’s table.

Twenty years ago it was really a good old boys club at these camera sales. However, I am delighted to say that those days are long gone in a forgotten past.

Ok, I guess there are a few like me that somehow are still hanging around.

It is now over until this fall, and was no different than the last that I had an exhilarating day with other photographers, and even got time to wander when the crowd cleared at days end.

As I wrote last fall, “a good word to describe the Vancouver Camera Swap meet? Invigorating, energizing, stimulating, exhilarating? Or maybe I should just say it was just good fun.”


The Vancouver Camera Show and Swap meet 2015

Linda at the SwapMeet

Linda at our table

Camera Swap find

A good find at the Swap meet

Camera Swap Meet

Check out this Leica

Vancouver Swap meet 2

Lets assemble this 4X5 camera 

Ziggy Rhode

The Swap Meet organizer, Ziggy Rhode selling a Hasselblad

Vancouver Swap Meet 1

Wow, a nice twin lens at the Vancouver swap.


The Western Canada Photographic Historic Association hosts Vancouver, British Columbia’s, original camera show and swap meet each year. This long-running show has now reached its 39th year, and makes the claim of being the largest in Canada with I believe approximately 120 tables, and I have no doubt well over 1,000 people walked through the doors this year.

I can’t remember exactly when we (my wife and I) had our first table there, maybe some time late 1990s. Since then each year we join an always-interesting diversity of photographers in a large, photographic equipment packed hall in Burnaby, BC, who are eager to exchange information and ideas, and, of course, are looking for great deals on all kinds of camera equipment.

Each year we make the three and a half hour drive from Kamloops the day before and lodge overnight and eagerly join other vendors the next day at 7:30AM to setup. The early morning scene is so much fun as we interact with others busily arranging equipment on tables before the show even begins. When I arrived I was happy to see people I have known for years. Better put, I was happy to see people I have known for only one day a year for about 20 years.

For me it is always a rush to organize my table quickly so I am ready for the swap meet’s early bird shoppers who pay a premium to begin shopping at 9am. That group of shoppers isn’t so much into browsing as they are searching for specific pieces, and they will walk quickly by a vendor’s table unless they spy that item.

At the 10am regular admission I always am glad to get a chance to sit for a moment (only a moment) after the hour of non-stop showing, demonstrating, explaining, and, of course, bargaining with savvy photographers.

Spending a day surrounded by a huge selection of cameras and other photography equipment is exhilarating, and getting a chance to talk with other photographers about their different interests is invigorating. Even after all these years I always learn something.

As I have mentioned before when I have written about this exciting event, one will find photographers of every age, from experienced elders to young people accompanied by patient parents. This congregation includes all kinds of lifestyles, interests, and photographic specialties. There are those that are dedicated to film, historic cameras, and processes of the past, walking alongside others that carry the latest and brightest in modern technology.

Other than actually pointing a camera at some inspiring subject, a gathering like the Vancouver Swap is a superb way to meet and exchange information with other photographers, and look at and check out the many kinds of photographic equipment that would not be so easily available anywhere else.

I had a great time with the photographers I met this year and the depending on who joined me at my table, the conversations always changed. My day of selling was a success, as it was for most of the dealers I talked to at the end of the day. And I even had some time to purchase another lens for myself, which is always nice.

I always look forward to any comments. Thank you, John



The Vancouver Camera Swap Meet for Photographers

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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Planning a Photography Excursion to the tulip festival.


Now that the February blahs are over, and March has come and gone bringing warmer days (regular readers know how I feel about March, “Ides of March. 15 March 2012”), I am thinking about planning a spring photography excursion.  I am hoping the weather will be cooperative as I don’t enjoy photography in the rain, and don’t want to get my camera equipment wet.  I think I should include some protective rain gear in the event of bad weather.

I would like to go on spring excursion heading west and south and that should give me the best opportunity for photography that will not include snow or cold temperatures.  I want to go somewhere along the coast I think, as spring comes earlier along the west coast and I should have my choice of flowers, landscapes, or any possible wildlife.  A friend phoned last night from Vancouver saying there was green grass, and flowers, and the temperature was 12 degrees, and expected to get warmer.

I just received an email reminding me of the spectacular blooming events along Washington State’s northern coast.  I could attend the 29th Annual Skagit Valley Tulip Festival from the 1st to 30th of April.  I know I could link up with other photographers going there from BC, or I could just head to LaConner or some other town on the coast of Washington, find a place to sleep, and join the festivities.  I am not so much a flower person, but like so many other subjects I photograph, I think multicolored fields of tulips would be an interesting photographic challenge. Choices ranging from extreme close-ups to landscapes would be just plain fun.

I don’t tent or RV so I will start browsing the internet for reasonable lodging. I have found fun places to stay in the past by checking out lodging websites, however, I have also ended up by chance in neat places just by going where I want to be and looking around.

If this brings up the question, “Have you ever had bad luck finding a place without advance reservations?”  Oh, yes!  I remember pulling our tiny Suzuki Sidekick off the highway at a roadside rest stop late at night because every hotel and motel was full.  My wife, Linda, and I tried unsuccessfully to spend the night sleeping in that cramped car. Morning came early (4am) and because nothing in the nearby small town was open we drove off tired and hungry. We finally ended up gobbling donuts and coffee hours later at a Tim Horton’s, then later collapsed on a sandy beach beside a lake and slept much of the day away.  Oh well, we will never forget that excursion!

I like to plan and organize such events to include preparing the vehicle, so when the time comes I will ensure the car is tuned up, and the winter tires are changed.  I like lists because I always forget stuff, and so I’ll begin making several brightly colored checklists of the items I will bring, and then I will start looking forward to the photography excursion, and have fun just thinking about the pictures I want to take.

That brings up the best part of planning.  What camera equipment do I bring?  I could bring every lens and camera I have, but that’s just silly as I wouldn’t have any room for a change of clothes.  Too much of the time I over pack my camera gear and end up stashing equipment in the car because it isn’t being used, so I will make an effort to minimize this year.

I don’t like to venture very far with only one camera, so I always carry a backup camera.  Cameras can malfunction and I don’t want to take the chance of reaching my distant destination and not being able to do the photography I went there to do.

Next on the list are the lenses I think I’ll need.  If I attend the tulip festival I’ll need a macro lens for close-up photography and a wide-angle lens for those colourful, flowered landscapes. There will be other opportunities and I’ll bring my 70-200mm and for wide low light opportunities will include a 24-70mm f2.8.  And very important, I will pack lots of memory cards.  By now the camera pack is getting full. That’s three lenses, two camera bodies, and I haven’t yet included my infrared camera that I think I’ll also bring. Oops, there is also my wife’s camera gear. Add her camera, macro lens, and favorite zoom lens, a 70-300mm.

Of course we will take our tripods, that’s a given.  Ahh, the decisions we must make. I just think it is so much fun.  The planning and anticipation of any photographic excursion is as much fun as the actual trip.  Whether I make it to the Washington coast or have to pull back my plans and stay closer to home, I will soon be venturing out camera in hand.