Around Christmas, I take a lot of pride in the gifts I give. Sometimes, my closest friends and I don’t exchange out of budget and opt to spend time together, but there was one opportunity I couldn’t say no to. For JMCS, whose photography I’ve always admired, I was asked to deliver a full box of working, retro cameras from as early as immediate post-WW2. Fascinated, I dug my hands into cleaning them up. The gifting was one to remember, with a majestically awestruck JMCS sitting cross-legged on my floor: His wide eyes gazed hungrily at the contents. One camera in particular though, my hands wouldn’t let go of.
It too, was no beauty queen when it arrived, but the subtle charms of midcentury make me all too sympathetic. It’s a Kodak Duaflex for those interested. Initially I was going to name him Kilroy, but after remembering the peeping nature of the historic character…. Perhaps that’s not appropriate… At all! Clicks, as he came to be known (for the sound of course), is going on quite an adventure for his first reels of film. He’s a natural fit for the Retro Revival!
With the wonderful pointers from JMCS, I managed to get manual film ordered online. I know what you’re thinking. Old car parts are stupid-expensive, so obsolete camera film must be pricey too! It’s a proud day for revivalists because a 12-picture film reel is $3.00. Yup. Three US dollars. Make shipping worthwhile and stock up at once! These little gems are not only aesthetically pleasing, but the hobby is dirt cheap! Move over, Instagram!
Now let’s clear something up. We’re not here to bash the digital world. We’re here to promote a broad skill set. The generations following millennials won’t understand the concepts of getting film developed or winding the camera film after a shot is taken unless we teach them. It’s not their fault- technology is ever-progressive. These are just normative, which makes learning dated skills all the more important.
Clicks’ first weeks here were just before Christmas. Thanks to B&H, I was able to get film relatively quickly. Of course, I also got educated relatively quickly. These oldies (but goodies) are very particular and sometimes require meticulous tweaking in order to work. The $20 worth of 120 film was Jerry-rigged again and again without much success. It continued to get stuck when reeling. Frazzled, I turned to the experts (Joseph). This may take some time, so Clicks’ debut may be delayed. Until then, we will provide updates on his progress as they become available.
Clicks’ first adventures will be developed and scanned into his own column on RR, which will hopefully be ready to come in August. Clicks’ Pics will feature all kinds of things from artsy snapshots of my dog, nature, cityscapes, and more. So stay tuned: this little box camera’s second life is sure to be a fun one!
If you’re interested in tying out one of these timeless gems for yourself, usually I’d recommend a website like etsy.com for a healthy search. Truthfully the cheapest way to acquire a working camera from yesteryear is to shop your local antiques stores or take a trip to vintage hotspots like New Hope, Somerville, or other (respectively local) Antique Meccas. For specific questions regarding film types and finding your photographic match, try JMCS at DeviantArt
Post your scanned pictures on Clicks’ Pics if you’re thinking of developing some film yourself!