And I’m a camera junkie.
This shot is from my latest acquisition – an Ansco Agfa Shur-Shot B2 from about 1935. And I totally didn’t mean to buy it.
It happened like this –
I was down in the New Haven area last week to see Barnaby Bright perform. That in itself was a bit of serendipity, seeing as I had only become aware of their existence a few weeks before, when my cousin began singing their praises on Facebook (my cousin is a professional musician and composer, so I tend to listen when he recommends something). By a social networking coincidence, I found out about their show in Connecticut the Monday before and decided I was going to be there.
The Space, where the concert took place, turned out to be one of those odd little performance spaces that only an ex-musician could invent. Part rock club, part recording studio and part Grandma’s attic (if your Grandma also liked to collect vintage arcade games). At one point, there was a lull in the music while they swapped performers, so I went exploring.
Upstairs, they have a little vintage shop – mostly clothes and jewelry, with a healthy dose of random crap, too. And some of that random crap was photographic. They had a bizarre collection of old plastic box cameras. Most of them were broken, but it was a bit of fun trying to figure out just how the hell you’d use them if they worked. They also had a 581 Polaroid Close-up Kit, which is pretty much a direct route to my heart for anyone. And tucked away on a shelf by the window, stuck between a basket of scarves and an old movie camera, was the little Shur-Shot with a $13 price tag on it.
I didn’t even see it at first. I had exactly $13 in my pocket and I was pretty sure I was going to want a CD, so the last thing I wanted was to see something I wanted to buy. But my friend picked it up to look at and once I began to look it over – especially once I saw what good condition it was in – the wheels began turning.
I didn’t buy it right then. No, I put it back on the shelf, saw an amazing show, bought my CD and went home a very happy camper. It was only the next morning that the regret began to creep in. How often can you find a working camera for $13? Why didn’t you just get it? Two days later, I wound up commandeering an entire carload of friends who had gone to see a movie in New Haven so that I could go back and buy it.
It was only after I developed the first test roll and saw how generally crappy they came out that I realized something rather momentous – somewhere along the way, I went from being the kind of person who freaked out at the slightest affront to my sense of control to being someone who would intentionally buy an 80-year-old camera with one shutter speed and two aperture settings that very likely wouldn’t produce anything but crap shots. What?
If I knew how that happened, I’d bottle it and make millions.