It's always fascinating to see a photographer's collection. Whether it's cameras, lenses, or other photo gear, there's always a story behind each piece.
Klara Keler, aka @almosthasselblad, finds beauty in old and quirky cameras. She owns an impressive collection, and one of the things that instantly makes her fall in love with a new find is its peculiarity. It's nice to know that people are still finding connections in old, pre-loved photo gear and we hope that the passion never dies out. We also sincerely hope that Klara’s experiences will inspire future generations of photographers to find their own unique counterparts, and to go out and make memories with them.
When asked about her favorite cameras, this is what Klara had to say:
“[My favorite cameras are] those that I haven't tried out yet! In all honestly, I don't [think] that I have clear favorites. I'm in it more for the process. I do cherish some more than others and I've had more history with a couple of them, that's for sure. But equally, they may not be my favorites due to the way they operate or handle sometimes... you know like the Pentacon Six TL is an awesome beast but you become its own beast of burden. There's always a pro and a con. The one I've been with the longest, however, is the Canon A-1 which is truly an awesome piece of equipment. I'm on my third unit now and I don't think I'll ever get rid of this model. It's just too good and ticks most of my boxes. The box it doesn't tick, however, is 'quirky' and that's a major box in my book, probably top of the list! Like I said, always a pro and a con. But that's just nitpicking and I really do enjoy all of them so much!”
What made you want to share your camera collection with the rest of the world?
I think it's just this basic need to share with other people what you've learned. A kind of an atavistic instinct, like coming back to your tribe after a week of hunting and gathering (quite literally with collecting and shooting cameras!) to sit by the bonfire and exchange tales of your adventures. That's kind of what it feels like to me!
How do you feel when you're "testing" a new camera for the first time?
Each camera is different from another, that's for sure. That variety is a rabbit hole I tend to get happily lost in constantly. It's exciting to wait for the results, especially with the test rolls because it's the biggest mystery. There are always questions running in your head. How does the lens view the world? How does this mechanical eye transform and translate what I see through it? Did it convey what I wanted it to? Or did it add something extra to my perspective? Sometimes it can turn into a bit of meditation about how technology becomes an extension of you—how far that can reach.
Do you follow certain routines when testing your new finds?
Technically, it's the usual run-of-the-mill performance check: does it work, roughly how accurate the shutter speeds are, etc. If some cleaning or basic repair is required, I do it myself. Then I usually just take a new camera with me when I go out and when I see something interesting, I take a picture. A roll can fly fast this way and then it's the develop and scan routine to see what actually happened in this co-operation of human and machine.
You have a lot of cameras in your collection. How do you decide which one to pick up? Do you switch things up frequently or do you just stick to one camera for a certain period of time?
I find that this depends, all in all. Some cameras sit unused on a shelf for months or years after the initial test roll, until they catch my attention again. Some are staples that I come back to when I need them specifically for a job because I know they will do it well. I can get fixated on a camera or a range of cameras and will use them every day for a while until my interest shifts to something else. I usually have them in quick rotation, though.
Have you ever gotten rid of cameras that you didn't like?
Of course! My collection constantly changes. There was a time when I gave up on it for a couple of years and sold most of my gear, only keeping some of the most significant or rarest cameras. Nowadays, I live in a smallish place so, sadly, I just can't keep them all. I'm also not immune to hype, so sometimes I will buy something only to realize it doesn't really work for me. I'm currently setting up a shop where I will be letting go of those that I can't or don't want to keep.
Do you know a lot of people who also collect cameras?
I'm in a couple of collecting groups on Facebook and Flickr but I don't know people personally. I prefer to read, research, and experience the cameras, and then share my findings in different places. Most of the in-depth stuff is on my blog, Almost Hasselblad. I sometimes wish I had someone knowledgeable to take a photo walk with! Maybe one day I'll get to know more camera-obsessed nerds like me and we can do walks and swaps. I hope so!
We would like to thank Klara for sharing her story with us. Follow her at her LomoHome to be updated with her latest sojourns and acquisitions.