I/Eye: On Photography

Man of many cameras

Posted in Artisans & Merchants by Sheila Newbery on October 2, 2009

From the Artisan & Merchant series: Graham Pilecki’s antique camera shop used to be on lower Solano Ave. in Albany (California).  The old cameras, arrayed on the shelves, were magnificent to look at—and the darkroom gear enticing.  I’d go into the shop, wander around wistfully, telling myself what I couldn’t or shouldn’t buy.  But once, in a fit of optimism, I bought a darkroom timer—which proved to be something of a ‘gateway’ gadget.

About a month ago, I was wandering through the Alameda Point Antiques and Collectibles Fair, camera at the ready.  I was looking at a box of glass transparencies, when a voice over my shoulder called out, “Nice camera!” I turned and there was a man in a cap, who said, “Hey, I know you!”  It was Graham. He’d been picking through the large-format glass negatives and had found some  treasures. “People don’t  understand the historical importance of what they’re selling!”

Graham’s storefront on Solano is no longer—he sells online now.  So this portrait  has acquired its own  historical dimension, especially as I realize that I’ll  never again see a person surrounded by so many venerable, old  analogue cameras!  (Note: the portrait was made using a circa 1952 Rolleicord that was restored to pristine condition several years ago by Harry Fleenor  in Los Angeles. The camera had belonged to my mother and was rescued from oblivion by my brother, who later gave it to me. I still have it).

Graham Pilecki in his camera shop (Albany, CA) © Sheila Newbery

Graham Pilecki in his camera shop (Albany, CA) © Sheila Newbery

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