Still here, Still alive: Canada Camera

Still here, Still Alive: Canada Camera

Mamiya RB67 - Kodak 400TX + 2

It’s been almost more than a year since I started this project. I’ve photographed on various cameras from my ever-growing personal connection. It looks like I desperately need to pick up a new shelf pretty soon before the next camera purchase (or lens). I want to introduce you to Mr. Phong the camera technician behind Canada Camera based out of Montebello, CA. This project wouldn’t have been possible if he wasn’t around to provide maintenance to my equipment and provide me with knowledge, including lore about other film cameras that I never knew existed.

Mr. Phong has been in the repair industry for 46 years; his reputation is widely known across the states through photographers and other repair technicians. Photographers will fly out to Los Angeles, endure its infamous traffic to purchase his serviced cameras, while others will ship their cameras to him for a much needed CLA. With the resurgence of film photography, he does his best to keep his shelves stocked with film cameras for those who want to discover the world of film photography, and professionals that incorporate it in their respective industries. Almost every week when you visit his shop, you can find a sea of boxes filled with cameras waiting to be serviced, restored, and some in perfect condition waiting to be sold to the right photographer. 

Today’s post is going to be different, unfortunately Mr. Phong doesn’t have time to sit down to answer my question in his own words, so I will fill them in based from my frequent visits and various conversations we had together. 
Throughout the pandemic I’ve visited Canada Camera during my treks to Chinatown, and there has always been a growing pile of cameras growing in his shop. Some are cameras he purchased to be restored and sold, and other cameras are from photographers from across the states, including some from technicians who do not have the parts or knowledge to repair certain cameras. I asked Mr. Phong how he handled his burnout and how he doesn’t get “tired” of working on his desk fixing camera after camera.

When he does experience “burnout” his remedy is to take a break and service cameras he has purchased for himself. Mr. Phong has a collection of cameras that have personal historic value, that he often uses from time to time. Repairing cameras isn’t considered work for him; he has a passion for it that sustains him. There is also satisfaction in fixing the camera and listen to its audible function before putting it on or back on the shelf. 

His answer reminded me of the mindset my parents’ generation has when it comes to work and experiencing burnout. Work is never seen as too hard, and there won’t be a bigger burnout if you love what you do. While the day to day of performing the same task with a larger workload can bring joy to your work environment, there should be some recognition to take a step back to rest, enjoy aspects of the craft you’ve mastered outside of a work environment. 

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