Use that camera!

threecamerasOr sextant, or slide rule, or. . .

Getting venerable technology into your hands

It’s there, on the top shelf of your closet or possibly stowed away securely in a storage room: an intriguing device inherited from a grandparent or maybe handed down from a great-aunt.  You don’t know how it works, or even if it works, though you’d kind of like to try it out.

Or maybe it’s your own, a reminder of past days, and now you’d like to see it in your children’s hands.  But after years of digital technology you’re now a bit fuzzy on exactly how it works, or you think an experienced instructor could do a better job of getting through to your kids.

Or you don’t have an example at all and youre just curious about how these things actually did their job. (You can see some of the results in our photo gallery page.)

We can help.

Here’s how it works:

  • We meet for an evaluation of your camera.  At no cost (wouldn’t be fair) we see if it appears to be in working order, or whether repairs need to be made or batteries bought.  (We can provide a camera if you don’t have one.  Let us know if there’s a particular kind you’re interested in.)
  • If all is in order, or has been placed in order, we go out on a picture-taking expedition.  You learn the basics of how to operate your device: setting the exposure and focus, advancing the film, avoiding taking the close-up fuzzy picture of your thumb.  No one can have too many pictures of the Jefferson Memorial!
  • Film needs to be processed!  This can be done commercially at any of several places in the area, giving hard copy prints or a CD with scans of the negatives.  We are working on the possibility of offering a hands-on lesson in developing your own film, alchemy at its most amazing.  You might end up with images that have never been inside a computer!

You can take a look at our photo gallery page to see what kind of things you might come out with.  That may be all you want: one look at the analog world.  Film photography is an arcane art, after all, and there are reasons the world has gone digital.  But you may just get captivated by silver halide imaging.  We can point you in the right directions to learn more and develop your skills.  You could end up coming over to the dark(room) side.

Contact us with details of your camera or other device (that will speed things up) or tell us what you’re interested in using from our own collection.  You can send an email to or use the form just below. Then schedule an appointment with our photography consultant at a convenient coffee shop or meeting place anywhere within walking distance of the Washington, DC Metro system.

The fine print:

  1. We do not repair cameras or process film commercially, though we can send you to reputable repair shops or processors in the area.  We do not provide valuation estimates for cameras, though in most cases we can tell you whether you have a common example of mass production or a priceless jewel.  We do not teach photography as an art, though we can refer you to classes in the area.
  2. There are cameras beyond repair; cameras beyond economical repair (meaning you could buy a working model for what you’d pay for the repair); and cameras in good condition that just can’t be used.  Most of the latter were made for film sizes that just aren’t made any more.  Sometimes there are ways around these problems.
  3. We haven’t yet met a camera we couldn’t figure out, but the possibility is there.  If we need extra research time and effort, we’ll let you know at the initial evaluation.  If we give up, of course it’s free.