I don’t want to get into a debate about nature verses nurture but photography seems to be a family trait in my family. I knew my mom’s father took a lot of pictures. My parents and brothers got the bug, whether through exposure (pun intended) or a natural propensity. The six cameras show here belonged to family members, although a couple of them I know nothing about.
The camera on the right, with the red bellows, is a Kodak camera (model unknown) which belonged to my (paternal) great uncle Ralph. We have some prints (and some negatives) from this camera taken during his time at Oxford and travels through Europe, Egypt, and Palestine between 1910 and 1913. Sadly, it’s lost most of the leather covering, although I do have the very worn leather case that the camera is stored in.
The Speed Graphic, on the left, belonged to my (maternal) grandfather. I’ve used it from time to time, although it’s a lot of work. Once, when we lived in Alaska, I took multiple exposures on a single piece of film during the Independence Day fireworks display over Juneau. My father-in-law had one of these, as well, and used it in the 1950s until he recognized the advantages of speed to be had with a 35mm SLR.
There is a Univex Mercury II, which is a half-frame camera. That’s the one with the semi-circular bit on top, which made room for the circular, rotary shutter. We have quite a few slides from that, taken in the late 1940s by my grandfather. It uses a standard 35mm film canister but the images are only 18×24mm.
I don’t know much about the other three, in terms of who owned them or where they came from. They were found in basements as we cleaned out the two parental houses. There is a Bolsey Model B2 (1949 to 1956), a Spartus “35” (made by Herold Products in the late 1940s), and another folding camera, simply labeled Vario, which refers to the leaf shutter, not the camera as a whole.
I have a few more, including a panorama camera made by Eastman Kodak between 1899-1928. That’s to say nothing of the various 35mm cameras I have accumulated over the years. None of them are worth very much and almost none of them are in anything close to excellent condition.