Millennium Monument

Millennium Park Peristyle

Recently I was going through a photography magazine and read a sentence that caught my eye: “If your community still has a local camera store, it’s probably much more than just a retail shop.” The paragraph goes on to discuss how the neighborhood camera shop is probably the local hub of goings-on in the local photography community, and check in with them to see what you participate in. Makes sense.

The part which baffled me, however, was the first part of the sentence “If your community still has a local camera store…”.

“If…”

I realize I live in Chicago and we have a few camera stores here. (Actually, we just lost Helix so we have one less.) But even as the greater Chicagoland area flirts with ten million residents, we only have three camera stores. The town in which my brother lives has exactly zero, so he has to drive an hour to find filters or ask questions. It’s unfortunate camera shops are slowly dying away.

A few years back, when I was looking at buying a new tripod, it was nice to be able to walk into a store and play around with the two-dozen or so options. Some features I liked and some I didn’t. I narrowed my choice down and made my purchase. It was truly enjoyable to spend the time tinkering and playing, instead of slowly trolling through Amazon reviews to see how things rate with other photographers, who may or may not shoot in my style.

We’re fortunate to have a couple of quality photography stores in Chicago, and they don’t just cater to the old women who come in to develop their 35mm disposable point-and-shoot film of a grand-daughter’s birthday party. So, I guess, if you’re going to have a local camera shop in your community, at least let it be a good one.

By the way, the monument above, known simply as The Peristyle, honors the founders of Chicago, Illinois’ Millennium Park.

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