An eye for rarity
With 20 years of service as a camera mechanic, Shekar invested all savings to nurture his rare hobby of collecting antique cameras and has a staggering collection of 1500 varieties from across several countries.
SITTING IN a room carpeted with vintage photographic equipment, 45-year-old C. Sekar fishes out an unusual looking camera and says, "This was my first gear into the collection. I bought this camera from a photographer in Kolkata for Rs. 5000. Today it has an antique value of more than one lakh"
Even as you inspect the camera with fine grains of rosewood and brass fittings, wide-eyed, Sekar chips in "but I am not here to make money, these are my life time investments." And rightly so, during his 20 years of service as a camera mechanic, Sekar has invested all his savings in buying antique cameras. "Whenever I come to know that somebody is disposing off an old equipment, I will go there and try to buy it from him."
In fact his passion for antique cameras have made him travel all over the country. Today, with a collection of 1500 pieces of his cherished delight, starting from his first British made `Ensign' wooden camera to the latest London-make, `The Victo', which he bought as recently as two weeks back, Sekar prides himself of having one of the largest assortment of antique cameras in the country.
And like an enthusiastic six year old, who frolics inside a toy room displaying his possessions to the onlooker, Sekar exhibits his collections, one by one explaining its uniqueness and specialities.
"This unsuspicious cigar lighter camera can double up as lighter and as a camera. This mini camera is foldable and can be easily concealed in your shirt pocket. This is called a match box camera. All these are from the Minox Company, Germany, explains Sekar. But since these cameras work only with an 8 mm film, I have to cut the 16 mm available in the market to use it," he says.
Sekar also has a couple of gears which traces the evolution of photography, such as cameras with perishable one snap bulbs and the 150 year old `Glass Negative' cameras, which uses glasses as negative for capturing images apart from antique brass lenses with fixed and interchangeable apertures.
Interestingly, Sekar's initiation into the world of cameras was not by choice, but by accident. As a teenager he used to take keen interest in repairing and maintaining his father's rice mill machinery. Realising the boy's mechanical inclination, his father sent him to study electronics. However the lack of qualified camera mechanics in the city then prompted Sekar to turn his attention towards camera repairing, after his diploma. Ever since cameras have been an obsession for him.
"During exhibitions there are people who come and ask me whether I am willing to sell the entire stall? But I turn them down saying it is only for the eyes." My collection is a tribute to the toiling spirit of the pioneers and I want this to be handed over to the next generation through my children, he adds.
Incidentally Sekar is keen on participating in the `Photographic Equipment Exhibition' to be held in New Delhi next year. But his only concern is transportation, "It will take me quite a lot of money to carry these equipment without any damage. I hope one of the leading camera companies will provide me with a sponsorship."
For further details Sekar can be contacted at his `Camera House' in Pycrofts Road (Ph: 8570757)
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