Staunton Camera Collector Shares His Passion - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

Staunton Camera Collector Shares His Passion

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A Staunton camera collector is sharing his passion with the world, in the form of gear he's collected over more than four decades.

Dave Schwartz has been in the photography and camera business since 1968.  He started out as an employee of a small shop, but bought the business a long time ago.

For those 44 years, Schwartz has been collecting cameras.  Now those cameras are officially on display at the Camera Heritage Museum.

"It's the only camera museum in the United States that's open to the public with this many cameras," Schwartz said.

There are more than 2,000 cameras, and it all began with a camera that cost Schwartz an entire week's pay plus an advance.

"My boss at the time says why do you want this piece of junk?" said Schwartz.  "I said I thought it was pretty."

Since then, Schwartz has added many notable cameras to the museum's collection.  These include:

  • The Daguerreotype - the first camera ever invented
  • An extensive collection of Leica cameras
  • One of only three cameras used by the Japanese during the bombing of the USS Arizona
  • Spy cameras like a KGB camera that doubles as a lighter
  • A camera used in the James Bond film "Goldfinger"
  • A disc camera invented in 1950 by American Safety Razor, a company founded in Verona

Schwartz believes the detail in many of these cameras is true craftsmanship.  "I've got cameras in here that are 160 years old that work," he said.

But Schwartz can't say the same about today's cameras.  He says some of the parts wear out all too soon.  As for the future of photography, Schwartz believes the digital era is just getting started.

"We have not even begun to see where computers are going to be at," Schwartz said.  "We're still in the infancy of the computer age."

Schwartz says there are another 700 cameras waiting to be put on display.  The museum is welcoming donations so it can expand.  Click here for more info on the Camera Heritage Museum.

Reported by Tara Todd

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