Hand-me-down Heroes : No. 7
We love cameras. We love geeking out about their wiz bang specs, elaborate craftsmanship and proudly share/boast about our technical and ergonomic marvels. This series however, will open the aperture on perhaps an oft overlooked aspect of our gear: sentimentality.
Hand-me-down Heroes is a new series aiming to share the stories of the machines that started us down this rabbit hole. Bequeathed by a family member or close friend, these are the cupid cameras that pierced us with the arrow of photographic obsession. Though they may no longer be our daily workhorses, lack some luxurious features, or missing that brand image, the memories they’ve witnessed and the valuable lessons learned have no price tag.
Gheerwijn Clicque : Rolleiflex K4a
I’d like to share my Hand-me-down Heroes story as it had a pretty big impact on my life.
On Christmas eve of 2015, while everyone else was busy eating and drinking, I ended up looking through some cabinets in the attic of my mom’s aunt. While doing so, I found a leather case tucked away in a cupboard somewhere. This case turned out to contain a Rolleiflex K4a. Although, as a 19 yr old at the time, I had no knowledge old cameras and not a huge interest in photography, the name ‘Rolleiflex’ did ring a bell. When you pretty much live on the internet with an interest in uncommon/curious things, I guess you come across them at some point 😄. So I only knew the name and that they were pretty high-end cameras for the time, so it immediately took all my attention. After bringing it down and investigating it a bit, I got to have at as a small Christmas present.
Went out to shoot my first roll within the next 2 weeks, enjoyed it so much that I got my first 35mm camera (a Canon AE-1) shortly after that and the rest is history. Ended up getting interested in analog cameras so much that it’s pretty much all I do now. Whenever I have a moment of free time, I hunt down cameras, repair them or go out to shoot them.
I ended up being pretty good at finding cameras for insane deals so over the past few 4 or so years, I have been growing the collection steadily. Continue to save forgotten cameras from basements, attics, cupboards, garages etc. you name it and I’ve probably found a camera there. Also started working with The Camera Rescue Project after sharing my automatic film developing machine I built for a school project. Got to train in lens repairs for a couple of days, helped them with their inventory system during a summer internship and tracked down some collections here in Belgium for them. Met a huge amount of amazing people all over the world during the past 6 years of being into cameras this much. Being someone who usually changes hobbies after a year because I go all in, collecting/repairing/using analog cameras has turned out to be a real passion and one I probably won’t let go of very soon.
As for the Rolleiflex K4a, it will obviously never leave the collection (anything rarely leaves here in fact). Obviously, with over 200 well-known cameras in the collection, I don’t get to shoot it every single day. But I do still take it out once in a while and it’s a joy every single time. Weirdly enough, I’ve come across pretty much everything on my hunts (Nikons, Leicas, Hasselblads, Mamiyas, Contaxes etc) but rarely have come across Rolleiflexes that were worth picking up. Maybe I always felt like this little K4a was all that I needed in the Rolleiflex realm 😄. I do have an SL66 and came across a Rolleiflex Wide recently though, but both of them don’t even come close to this little one 😉
You can find me, my cameras etc. on https://www.instagram.com/the_achromatist/.
Oh and don’t forget your contact details (Insta, website, flickr et al). Send your Hand-me-down Heroes here. And please make sure the shots are good quality, you are a photographer after all.
Rolleiflex : respect!
I really enjoyed your story. What a great way to get into film photography. Thanks for taking the time to tell us about it.