Junk Shop Konica
I moved to New York in the fall of 2000. For the first couple of months I couch-surfed at my friend’s place and when his girlfriend got too fed up with me I moved to a rented room in an apartment with two aging hippies. It was very clear from them that I was just renting the room; we weren’t roommates. While I am sure that I was paying the majority of their rent controlled monthly rate, and while I had my own bathroom, it wasn’t exactly the most social of situations. I was occasionally invited to “their end of the apartment” for dinner, which was entertaining to be sure, but I couldn’t exactly call them friends.
I was new to the city, and because the few friends I had lived in Manhattan, I felt very alone in Brooklyn. I spent a lot of time exploring the city the same way I am currently exploring Saint Louis – on foot, just walking around, seeing where the streets took me. The difference between now and then is that back then I didn’t have a camera. I spent that fall walking around just lookin’ at stuff. Then one day, I was walking down a random street and found an antique store, junk shop, something or other. I don’t remember what compelled me to go in, but in I went, and found several cameras in a glass case. I hadn’t held a camera for at least a couple years since college, and it just seemed right. I chose a Konica Autoreflex T3 with a 57mm lens. I don’t remember why I chose the camera – it wasn’t even that clean. I think it was the one I could (barely) afford. I think I paid $140 for it, which was a ton of money for me at the time and I’m sure that was more than it was worth. But I was all excited and rushed out to buy some film.
It was incredibly cold at the time, and about three quarters of the way through my first roll of film, the shutter started locking up. I think the cold was just too much for it, and I didn’t have any money left to fix it. I was really discouraged. I was sick about spending the money and the fact that I would have to shell out even more money to have the film developed, and I was still alone! I finished out the roll, convinced it would be a failure, put the camera down and didn’t pick it up again. Later that year I saved and scrimped and bought my first digital camera, a Canon G1. I haven’t shot film since.
I never developed the roll of film I shot with the Konica and never tried to use it again. But I hung on to it for all these years. I’m considering film again now, as an exercise. I want to see what it is like to have a finite number of frames to shoot, to have a little more guesswork in my exposures, and just to try something new (old). So I rolled out the Konica and cleaned it up. I have five rolls of 35mm film laying around which I found in my dad’s camera bags last summer (who knows how old those are), so I’m committing myself to shooting all of these rolls of film, having them processed and seeing what I’m able to make of it. I’m going to use the Konica even though the meter is broken and not having developed any film from it I have no idea if the thing even works. It could have light leak, the jammed shutter may be a problem (although it is certainly not cold in Saint Louis at the moment.
We shall see what happens, won’t we? Wish me good film karma!
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In college I used a bunch of photo paper that my grandfather had given me- it was probably twenty years old, but still good, much of it. I love the limitations of film and paper and the physicality of them, that they could be held onto and used- that a camera and even the supplies could be passed down instead of thrown out. This is a good experiment for exploring your new city, a way to shoot more and shoot blind (without on the spot editing)- a metaphor? Enjoy! You should have plenty of good karma.