Camera shop closing after 40 years

23:04, Jan 22 2013
Tony Scott
Then and now: Tony Scott of Wairarapa Camera Services with the original Rolleiflex TLR camera he used as a press photo-grapher and a modern point-and-shoot digital camera.

Few retailers would have experienced the winds of change like those that have blown through the photographic industry in the past four decades, but one Masterton business has weathered it all - until now.

Tony Scott has been at the helm of Wairarapa Camera Services on Queen St for almost 40 years and has seen the photographic process utterly transformed. When he bought the business in 1973 they were still just developing black- and-white prints using a hand printing process.

This was taken over by the new technology of colour slides which themselves were superseded by colour printing from negatives. The digital revolution ripped through the industry about 10 years ago and once again they had to adapt with new machines and online orders.

Tony says it has been a privilege to provide the service to people for as long as he has.

"I'm very fortunate to have been able to do this thing that I love."

His mother bought him a film processing kit when he was 10 and he has been fascinated by photography ever since.


In its heyday, the business comprised two camera shops, in Masterton and Hastings, as well as a thriving wholesale printing lab in Wellington offering same- day service.

As a passionate photographer, Tony has always tried to get the best possible prints from the shots brought in.

Each photo is corrected and balanced for optimum printing. He has seen millions of shots come through the machines.

Photo developers have the utmost respect for the privacy of the individuals for whom they are printing and never discuss the contents of the photos with anyone.

Tony says an interesting consequence of seeing so many holiday pics is that it can dampen his holiday experience when they travel to places they have already seen in people's pictures.

"When you get there in reality you feel a little disappointed because you feel like you have already been there. You always know what you are going to see around the corner," he says.

When the first digital cameras started hitting the mainstream around 15 years ago, there were predictions they would revolutionise the industry but retailers were not sure what to make of it all.

Sure enough digital photography did transform the way we take and develop photos. People shoot a lot more pictures these days, but print a lot less.

A word of warning - digital prints are far from safe from being lost forever, Tony says.

People need to select shots they like and get them printed. Storing photos on flash drives is probably the most secure way of keeping them electronically, he says.

Wairarapa Camera Service shuts at the end of the month and ends developing at the end of this week.

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