Purple Magazine
— S/S 2017 issue 27

Bellamy Hunt

on camera hunting

portrait by CHIKASHI SUZUKI

71880004 Kodak Vest Pocket Auto graphic camera from 1914, a 127 format folding camera that was popular with soldiers on the front in World War I

 

PURPLE — Why did you come to Tokyo from London?
BELLAMY HUNT — That is a very long story. I was traveling the world and just found myself in Tokyo. I originally intended to stay for a few months. It will be 12 years next year.

PURPLE — How would you describe your job?
BELLAMY HUNT — I don’t know, as I have many jobs. I source cameras and lenses, I sell my own brand of film, I promote film photography. I guess “camera broker” would be a fairly accurate title.

PURPLE — Do you have Japanese friends? Do you know other people who do the same kind of camera-hunting work that you do?
BELLAMY HUNT — I know some people, but they are quite private. I don’t really know anyone who does exactly the same thing as me.

PURPLE — How would you explain the passion for cameras in Japan, compared with that in Western countries? What do you think are the roots of this technological culture?
BELLAMY HUNT — This is very difficult to answer without a very lengthy response. The Japanese have a great appreciation for things that are either technologically or mechanically excellent. Be it cars, watches, cameras, or music boxes. They are also great collectors of things. I can’t really say where this comes from without a lengthy anthropological essay.

PURPLE — There was a historical connection between the photo industries in Germany and Japan, from a technological point of view. Germany has Leica, Leitz, Zeiss, Contax. The Japanese camera industry — with Nikon, Canon, Olympus — copied, improved, and expanded photo possibilities. Do you see this as the start of Japan’s camera culture?
BELLAMY HUNT — Yes, there is a long history of the Japanese companies taking the ideas from other countries and improving or developing them. I think there was a certain amount of national pride for some of the cameras that came from this, like the Nikon F and so on. This really cemented the culture in Japan.

PURPLE — Did you know Yoshihisa Maitani, the famous Japanese camera designer and engineer? Are there Japanese camera engineers today who are considered cult figures?
BELLAMY HUNT — I didn’t know him personally, but I have heard of him. There are a great many “masters” in Japan. [Sadayasu] Miyazaki of MS Optical is one of them, creating stunning modern classic lenses.

PURPLE — Why do the Japanese take such good care of their cameras?
BELLAMY HUNT — The Japanese seem to have a respect for the items that they own, which I have not experienced elsewhere. I guess it comes from working hard to obtain an item — this gives you a healthy amount of respect for the items you own.

PURPLE — How would you describe the creative community of photographers who collect and use vintage cameras? What do they do, and where do they meet? Do they exchange information?
BELLAMY HUNT — There are a lot of collectors’ groups that meet up and talk about their collections, but they are quite private.

PURPLE — How do you find the cameras that you sell online?
BELLAMY HUNT — I have a lot of connections with stores and private sellers/ brokers in Japan. Sometimes I find them; sometimes they find me. Some people seek me out to sell their items for them, which is an honor.

71880013のコピー A gold limited-edition MS Optics 28mm f2 Apoqualia lens in M mount, handmade in Japan By Miyazaki

PURPLE — What is your favorite film camera in the three categories: reflex (SLR/TLR), rangefinder, and medium format? Which one would you run away with if your house caught fire?
BELLAMY HUNT — That is difficult. I guess my favorites would be the ones that I have personally owned. I love the Nikon F3 for the reflex category; it was one of the first cameras I aspired to own. The Leica MP is my favorite 35mm rangefinder camera. And the Makina 67 is my favorite medium-format camera.

PURPLE — How do you choose the cameras you sell: design and aesthetic, ergonomics and comfort of use, image quality, versatility, favorite brands, or anything else?
BELLAMY HUNT — Well, mainly people ask me to find something. It is rare that I find items to sell directly now. The main thing I look for is quality. Everything else is secondary.

PURPLE — You are producing your own film. Why did you decide to do this?
BELLAMY HUNT — I really wanted to try and do something positive for the film community. It was a dream of mine to do it, and I made it a reality. It was hard work, but definitely worth it.

PURPLE — How do you explain the major comeback of film cameras today in the creative community?
BELLAMY HUNT — I think there is a lot more awareness that film photography is still available as a medium of expression. There is also a trend for people to move parts of their lives off-line now, as it sometimes seems we are doing everything at a rapid pace for everyone to see. There is an appeal for people to create something that is not just for Facebook updates.

71880003 Bellamy holds a specialist panoramic Panon Widelux 1500 medium format camera

PURPLE — Do you like to shop in Japanese vintage camera shops?
BELLAMY HUNT — Of course. I wouldn’t do it otherwise. I love my job.

PURPLE — Where do you find cameras to sell, apart from vintage boutiques? In Japan? Outside Japan?
BELLAMY HUNT — I have sources all over the world, though I can’t tell you where they are because of client confidentiality.

PURPLE — Do you collect cameras, besides the ones you use?
BELLAMY HUNT — I used to, but I don’t do it any longer. I find cameras for other people and have owned everything I could possibly want to own. I now keep only cameras that I use.

PURPLE — Who are your customers? Are they mostly Japanese?
BELLAMY HUNT — I try to get to know my customers, as I would like them to feel comfortable when buying from me. Actually, 95% of my customers are from outside Japan — from all over the world. I have had customers from Mongolia to Miami. It is a worldwide business.

PURPLE — In addition to selecting cameras for your customers, do you also give tips on repairing or customizing the camera? Is that important?
BELLAMY HUNT — Yes, I try to give my customers advice on anything that they need. I also curate their collections for them and help them to design and visualize custom cameras.

71880019 Bellamy holds a specialist panoramic Panon Widelux 1500 medium format camera

PURPLE — What do you think about camera customization?
BELLAMY HUNT — I’m all for it. I think people should be able to express their personalities through the things they own. That’s why I help people to create custom-designed cameras.

[Table of contents]

S/S 2017 issue 27

Table of contents

purple NEWS

purple BEST OF THE SEASON

purple INTERVIEW

purple FASHION WOMEN

purple FASHION MEN

purple DOCUMENT

purple ARCHITECTURE

purple BEAUTY

purple LOVE

purple SEX

purple TRAVEL

purple NIGHT

purple PHILOSOPHY

purple STORY

purple VISUAL ESSAY

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