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Niagara Falls
Sunday, February 5, 2023
Photography buff focuses on collecting and restoring old film cameras

Old-school photography is not as practical as modern digital, but he enjoys the hands-on aspect


There is a certain charm in film photography for Niagara-on-the-Lake newcomer Travis Reside and he is intent on restoring old film cameras to keep that magic alive.

“The thing I love about film is the process of it. I love being able to slow yourself down and figure it out,” he says.

Reside, 20, studied photography at Algonquin College in Ottawa but the program was focused on the digital format.

He says he wanted to start shooting film because it always intrigued him. His mother gifted him a film camera several years ago and that set him on his way to experimenting with film and everything that goes with it.

“There's so much within film photography that you can explore and expand your knowledge on. I've been shooting film since 2019,” he says.

“I've explored a lot of formats and mediums within film and there is still tons of mediums that I have not explored personally.” 

He began restoring cameras after his neighbour gave him a 1971 vintage Canon AE-1. He had bought it brand new when he was in the military and it was just sitting in the basement collecting dust.

“It was dirty. I was like, you know what, this camera has potential. I can use it,” Reside says.

He began researching safe products to use on cameras so he wouldn’t damage any of the parts and he got to work.

“I cleaned up the lenses and also put in new light seals. The light seal keeps the film tight because you don't want to expose film to light. So I bought a big thing of light seal material and every camera that I had gotten or had bought, I changed the light seals,” he says.

His passion for fixing cameras grew from there.

“It became not even just a hobby. It just became a thing that I enjoy, and I enjoy helping the community,” he says.

Reside now takes in old cameras that people would like to give away and he restores them. When done, he says he often gives them away.

“I’ve given away just over 15 cameras. I've had well over 30 or 40 cameras in my collection,” he says, noting  he tends to hand them off to friends or people he meets who want to start shooting film.

“I have a passion for it. Film is not as practical as digital, but it's something that I really enjoy,” he says.

“Over the years certain things go away because they kind of just die off, but film is one of those things that I really hope stays forever.” 

Reside also develops his own film and says he encourages anyone who wants to experiment with film to do the same.

He purchased his initial kit, which included a developing tank, a bottle of developer and a bottle of fixer chemicals for about $100. The cost is worth it for anyone who wants to seriously start exploring the world of film, he says.

Film is more expensive than digital “but it's the process and the hands-on part of it that is worth it,” he says.

He is always looking to collect old cameras to restore. He is also happy to restore and return photography equipment to people who want them fixed for their own use or collection, he says.

In NOTL, Reside likes to shoot old barns and landscapes, but says he pretty much photographs anything that catches his eye.

Check out his photos on Instagram at @travisshootsfilm. Anyone looking to donate or connect with Reside about restoring camera equipment can reach him by email at travis.reside@gmail.com.

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