More than a camera swap

This past weekend the Vancouver Camera Swap meet welcomed vendors and shoppers for a very enjoyable day.  Put on by the Western Canada Photographic Historic Association, and organized by Siggi and Brigitte Rohde, this long running show has now reached its 35th year and makes the claim of being the largest (and maybe the best) in Canada, with well over 1,000 people walking through the Cameron Recreation Centre’s (adjacent to Lougheed Mall) doors.

I’ve been attending for about 20 years and for me it’s a great place to sell photography equipment, and a super fun day meeting old friends, and making new acquaintances. In addition, what could be better then spending a day surrounded by a vast array of cameras, photography equipment, and talking with other photographers?

My wife and I drove to Burnaby the night before so I could have my table ready before the show’s early bird shoppers at 9 a.m., and by 10 a.m., with the regular admittance we were busy showing, demonstrating, explaining and, of course bargaining with photographers looking for that special item and hoping for a deal that was just as special.

My friend Stan stopped by to sit with me and, in his words, “enjoy the entertainment”. I had to admit that sitting back and people watching is lots of fun and with a large city like Vancouver (and many participants from Washington State) this event is more than filled with interesting people.

I am always amused by the “experts” that shuffle up to my table. It quickly becomes obvious they aren’t there to buy anything, and that’s okay because I like looking and touching things myself, but these individuals are mostly there to tell the poor person behind the table how much they know and how much experience they have.  The first notable among those was a fellow that began by introducing himself as being a vendor from Toronto. Then he would go through everything on the table, tell everyone what it was, and what the price should be. Since he was from Toronto he considered himself more of an expert then those of us from B.C.  After explaining and telling me to re-price my equipment he moved on to another table to begin again, and throughout the day I could pick him out educating others.

Stan’s favourite was a guy that came to the show with just a camera body hanging around his neck. This man went to each table, mounted every lens that fit and pointed it back at other items on the table. Usually I would say “focus” it, however, he would move in so close that the lens couldn’t possibly focus and when I mentioned that one of my lenses wouldn’t focus that close he sprang into the most garbled, unintelligible, elucidation on a camera’s focal point that I have ever heard; and I never really could figure out what he was talking about. Stan and I could only exchange a quick stunned glance. The guy left my table and walked across the isle, and then we watched him start over again on another unsuspecting vendor.

My personal favourites are those individuals that are excited to find some camera or lens. They begin by asking lots of questions and carefully scrutinizing the piece and sometimes rushing off to get some friend or relative that is more knowledgeable. Then they inquire about the price and always ask if they can pay less. That’s part of the game. I watch how tightly they hold it, and those that leave and return several times trying to make up their mind are the most fun.

This time I was selling a friend’s entire camera kit – a pricey medium format camera with three extra lenses, additional film holders, and many other extras, all complete in a large metal camera case.  The guy didn’t have enough cash on him and said he was sure he could borrow some from his fiancé’s father. And here comes my favourite quote of the day,  “I’m sure he’ll lend me the money.  That’s the least he could do for me marrying his daughter”.

He did get the money, and excitedly told me how the camera would be a great addition for the studio he was about to open.  I also like it when people I sell cameras to tell me how they intend to use them.

I even received a notification on my Enman’s Camera Facebook page from a woman that purchased a lens at the swap. She wrote how much she liked the lens, thanked me, and even posted several pictures she quickly took of her child and the family dog.

The swap meet was lots of fun, and I know the things I sold will be happily used; but reading how pleased that photographer is with that lens is the frosting on the cake for me.

These are my thoughts for this week.  Please don’t hesitate to contact me. Email your comments and suggestions to me at or phone 250-371-3069

John Enman owns and operates Enman’s Camera at 423 Tranquille Road in Kamloops, selling an interesting selection of used and new photographic equipment and offers professional wedding photography and photographic instruction.  Check out