Ma and Pop Shops

“You don’t make a photograph just with a camera. You bring to the act of photography all the pictures you have seen, the books you have read, the music you have heard, the people you have loved.” -Ansel Adams

I have always wanted to be a photographer. I used to be put in charge of my father’s camera during family events and snap pictures of all the people, hoping to capture something truly amazing. Most of the pictures were skewed to be out of focus because I could never quite keep still. I received a camera for some birthday around eight or nine and  a few scrap books to put my pictures in. I thought I was doing a pretty good job at chronicling my life in the books. The goal, however, of wanting to be a photographer was to move away from amateur pictures to some sort of art form and that is not something easily achieved.
Last fall I enrolled in a Photography 1 class that required the use of a film camera and a dark room. Film is not cheap, neither is the camera but I suppose there is no price for a good experience. The teacher told us specifically what we could buy and where we could find them, thus I set out on my adventure to be a photographer.
Crick Camera Shop was a staple in the community of Kansas City photography enthusiast for the last 70 years. They sold film for cameras, as well as cameras, tripods, cases, and even helped you troubleshoot when the camera wasn’t doing exactly what you wanted it to. I went in there unsure, pulling up the picture I had snapped of the syllabus and very carefully saying what I thought I needed. The man smiled, showed me my options and asked if it was for a class. I responded hesitantly with a yes and he told me I could get a discount for the first purchase for a class. He had smiled and looked genuinely happy to have young people taking an interest in the hobby. The relief washed over me as the experience seemed easier with welcoming people such as him. I would spend a lot more money than I care to admit on the photography class and it wasn’t until the last project that I actually figured it out. By then, however, the want to capture the world in black and white 35mm film had been instilled in me.
The day after the election or perhaps some time after that there was going to be a protest down at Crown Center. Women were angry, minorities were angry, people were just congregating to stew in their mutual anger but I wanted to go. More importantly, I wanted to document it with my film camera which was getting little use in my absence from photography class. On our way we pulled into what was the parking lot of Crick Camera Shop and saw that the store was no more. It had closed in January of 2017 due to little revenue and no one to take over the business. My roommate was as astounded as I was and I couldn’t help but wonder what other institutions in the Kansas City area were going to disappear as this.
The digital age has ushered in amazing innovations like constant communication, the ability to snap a picture of nearly anything and an ever expanding abyss of knowledge at our fingertips. The price for all this is the loss of family owned stores, hobbyist who practice for hours to get the right shot, and the general feel for niches. We pulled out of the parking lot and headed down to the rally, in shock the entire ride, wondering how a store like that can go out of business.
I didn’t fail photography and I didn’t document the rally the way I would have wished. Alas, the world kept turning and I started looking towards the digital camera I want to purchase only remembering Crick when I am reminded of my love of film.




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