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Monday, 01 June 2020


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My company's office is a few blocks from Central Camera. One of my favorite lunchtime activities is to take my camera for a walk, because it needs the exercise. Here's a photo I took of Central Camera a couple of years ago on one of those walks.


I have photographs of the Central Camera store. Thought I had your e-mail address, but I guess I don't. If you send it to me, I will send you the photos.

I saw the interview with the owner. He seemed like a great person who was not dwelling on what had to be a great loss for him personally, but instead being thankful nobody had been injured. I thought to myself that if the world had more people like him the things that are going on right now probably would not be be happening. Apparently he managed to salvage the first camera that was ever sold by the store. Good to see a tiny bit of good for him out of all that tragedy.

As a native Chicagoan and then a Milwaukeean, and then a Minneapolisean, (just made up that last one), I had the great pleasure of frequenting many of the old time, long established camera stores. Central Camera was but one of many that was in their heyday back when I first became interested in photography.

Now at 73 years old, I am feeling nostalgic and frankly quite sad that the pillars of the business are crumbling. Central's place in Chicago history will always be in my memory bank, as long as it is still plugged in. It will be alongside of Oak Park Camera, Reimers, National Camera.

I just watched the news interview that was recorded live on Saturday night. Don is unbelievable in his resolve to rebuild and for recognizing the reasons behind this latest national unrest.

I can not write anymore at this moment.

Thanks for posting this. I was just listening to my favorite podcast, longtime Chicago radio show This Is Hell, and the host was talking about this very thing. My daughter lives in an apartment with her boyfriend two blocks from Lake Avenue in Minneapolis, which looks like a war zone in parts. She has been going to regular meetings with the building tenants and they set up a food shelf. She took a midnight shift to watch the back entrance. The community solidarity is strong. Now they need good, creative leadership from the government.

Try this: https://www.google.com/maps/place/Central+Camera+Company/@41.8785628,-87.6262492,3a,90y,280h,110t/data=!3m8!1e1!3m6!1sAF1QipNGYUdMi3FFx0Wquv5t7uXrPZFluTILEdZRIGuv!2e10!3e11!6shttps:%2F%2Flh5.googleusercontent.com%2Fp%2FAF1QipNGYUdMi3FFx0Wquv5t7uXrPZFluTILEdZRIGuv%3Dw203-h100-k-no-pi-20-ya289.0782-ro-0-fo100!7i13312!8i6656!4m7!3m6!1s0x880e2ca308403ec9:0xc84597b68faef953!8m2!3d41.87858!4d-87.6262814!14m1!1BCgIgARICCAI

I think I bought my Spotmatic from them in 1971.

Great to see that interview -- thank you for sharing it. My favorite part was when he interrups the usual news interview segue to shakes the interviewer's hand and then asks the name of the cameraman too. At once, everyone was a human being instead of something on TV. Don's class act certainly reflects well on us photography guys.
But he ran out of *film*??

You have interesting DB program. Yea, the one called "I can't find one." Seems to me I have heard you mention that name several times.

Just kidding.

Oh no! My hometown camera store! Sure, you could find cheaper prices at B&H from NYC, or a wider selection at Calumet on Goose Island, but you'd never get better advice than from Don and the folks at Central. You can tell he's a mensch from his reaction to all of this.

Here you go, Mike. Shot with a 4x5 Busch Pressman in 2017 while working in Chicago on a commercial shoot.


The neon sign alone is a national treasure!

I am so sorry this happened. Anyone who is loyal to a local camera store must be grieving. I would have hatred in my heart and not good humor. This destruction has nothing to do with civil rights. It plays into the hands of those in power who would set us back.

So sorry to see this...even in the day of the "big box" suppliers like Calumet, there was always a reason to pop in to Central and see what was in the used cases...my buddy told me he bought his first pack of black & white printing paper at Central when he was going to Columbia for photography, many moons ago!

I saw people donating even 10 bucks on the fund-me page, every little bit helps. I always try to donate 20 bucks every month to a non-profit or food kitchen. I worked out one time that if there were 100,000 household in your community, and they all donated a measly 20 bucks a month to something, anything; they could push 24 million into needy institutions! Something to ponder!

Wow, just wow. The burning and looting of Central Camera has absolutely nothing to do with George Floyd. Mr. Flesch should be outraged instead of parroting totalitarian talking points.

In 1948 I got my first camera from Central Camera, an Argus C3. I sent a donation about equal to the cost of that camera at the time my father purchased it for me: $30.00. As I recall sales tax was 3%.

Hi Mike

For some reason I only have this one picture of the store sign, don't know if it will help you.

Kind regards
Bjorn, occasional tourist in Chicago.

I remember staring into the front windows of Central Camera when I was (relatively) young and visited Chicago occasionally - I think I went in once, and it was a wonderland. I actually shopped more at Helix, since at the time I was more interested in 4x5 equipment. I had purchased a Toyo 4x5 and a couple of lenses from Helix, though by mail (remember mail order catalogs?!) and when I bought a Fujinon 400-T it was at the Helix store in Chicago.

These days I would spend more time in a place like Central Camera. And I’ll certainly contribute to their GoFundMe.

Hello Mike, thank you and well done for sharing this. I donated $10.

I'm a basic freelance photographer, I don't have a lot to give, especially right now—but I don't have it as bad as many, as this post easily demonstrates, and so what little I can afford to give, I do. I'll skip lunch and a coffee today for Central Camera. It's as easy as that.

I encourage everyone to do something, if they can. Best wishes.

Cheers. Tom.

@Crabby Umbo:
"...and [if] they all donated a measly 20 bucks a month to something, anything; they could push 24 million into needy institutions!"
That's what a fair tax system would do. Whereas ours in the US pushes so much to the military and the uber wealthy, that the needy institution that would help the poor and middle class gets but a fraction.
And watch the powerful attack even the most efficient and useful institutions like Social Security and Medicare to hasten their demise as independent institutions not now shoving their wealth upwards.
Losing a historical treasures like Central Camera is not the same as losing the local chain store. Boston has set up a program to help the small independent businesses that have been damaged. Maybe Chicago is doing the same.

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