IN the old days, photography was an expensive hobby. It still is today, though it is much more affordable now than during the pre-digital photography era.
I got my first camera, a Yashica FX3, at the age of 35. I spent more than RM100,000 dabbling in photography when I was young. But because I loved it so much, I did not mind spending all my hard-earned money on my hobby.
I have used all sorts of cameras, including the one that requires you to manually change the lens whenever you move the camera nearer or further to your subject. If the subject moved 50 metres away from you, you would need to change to the appropriate lens to get a good capture.
The new generation are lucky. The digital camera is not only affordable, it allows one to take as many shots as one likes and delete the ones that have failed to flatter the subject, or one’s skills as a photographer.
I was born and raised in Perak, but found my way to Singapore as an electrician. I worked there until 1989, when I came to Johor Baru to open a photo studio in Larkin.
Business was brisk until the digital camera showed up — everywhere. Everyone was suddenly a photographer. They were taking their own pictures, instead of going to a photo studios.
So, I closed shop and took a break — a break that was to span 18 years.
I did try my hand at other business ventures, but I found that I still loved photography.
As that did not seem likely to change, four months ago, I opened a shop in Giant Hypermarket in Taman Nusa Bestari.
The shop has a wide range of cameras ranging from modern to antique makes and models.
I took out my prized collection of cameras that I had build over the years and put them on the market. As you can probably tell, it will take a very attractive offer to persuade me to part with them, especially some of the antique models.
I have one camera model that dates back to 1912. I believed it to be the oldest in my collection.
Do not be surprised when I tell you that there are collectors who are keen on these old models, if only to proudly display on their shelves.
I also have in my shop these 135 film rolls that the youth today may not have seen or even know of.
Though the new digital cameras in my shop are selling better than the old collectors’ items, I am proud of my collection, for each piece carries a special bond and a sweet memory.
Unlike most other shops, I accept trade-ins, which is helpful for photo enthusiasts who want to upgrade their cameras.
If I were given a choice, I would still choose photography. I left it for 18 years to try other things, but I still came back to it.
Othman Zakaria, 58, lives with his wife and six children in Taman Nusa Bestari.
The writer’s prized collection of antique cameras is displayed in Classic Photo, his new shop in Giant Hypermarket Taman Nusa Bestari. Pix by Dazar Suarman
Behold, the 420 Polaroid Automatic Land Camera!
A separate flash and an external battery for the pre-digital era camera.