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When I was 11 I can remember being absorbed by the National Geographic Magazine. I was growing up in the dreary Northern England town of Scunthorpe in the early 80’s, a dying steel town with little prospect for some outside of a UB40 form.

I remember the exhilaration of the stories within the magazines pages of photojournalism from the 4 corners of the globe, be it climbing K2, canoe trip down the Amazon or adventures with nomadic tribesman of Senegal.

Within these amazing stories there was always one thing in common

Nikon, Olympus ,Canon and Pentax 35mm film camera’s

They seemed (Nikon F2) in particular to be rugged, indestructible and cutting edge.

To me they represented a way out of my world, and thus my dream was to become a National Geographic photo journalist…

I remember before leaving to SA, my thirteenth birthday i was asked what i wanted, of-course i wanted a Nikon F2 with motor-winder and a 105mm F2.5 Nikor lens.

I remember the expression on my parents face as we stared at the prize in the window of Dixons in the Scunthorpe high street.

Roughly it cost more than my fathers car.

We settled on a Pentax MV with a 50mm lens.

The proverbial water has passed under the bridge & i have remained true to film, in particular medium format B&W, although i have experimented with digital i did not receive the same dopamine dump i receive from film and thus i have sold my Leica M9 in favour of the brutally honest Hasselblad SWC and today i shoot exclusively in that medium (for my sins).

In this busy world where the new cocaine is distraction, i shoot film to create in me a sense of mindfulness and careful introspect….my life is better for it, and more importantly I’m constantly framing my world, looking for pleasing composition irrespective of whether i have a camera in hand or not.

I established the Vintage Camera Trader SA as a engagement tool for like minded individuals to share, trade and discuss the re-emerging art of light, silver, space and speed…

My hope is that the platform can reach and encourage would be photographers & artists to engage in for the first time or return to the art of film photography.

Over 100 film cameras have been dusted off the shelves and sold on the site to date and are now finding there way into new and loving hands.

At VCSA, we have 1 rule in respect to engagement….”its more important to be nice than it is to be right”

I believe film photography teaches us patience, temperance and brings a self esteem back to the art of photography lost in todays inane iPhone self portrait culture which has little to do with expression and more to do with being popular.

Explore with us..light, silver, space and speed

Written by James MacCallum



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