I’m having a trawl through the photography archives today.  Brought about by the news this week that UK High Street photographic retailer Jessops has gone into administration, with the closure of 187 stores and the loss of upto 2000 jobs.

Poor festive trading has been said to have been the final nail in the coffin for the troubled business – Britain’s sole nationwide specialist photography retailer.  A sad end for the firm which has been trading since its launch in 1935.  Whilst Internet prices can be attractive, having the ability to go along to a local store and handle cameras, lenses and other items, to ask questions about and to ‘try before you buy’ is still a benefit that many photographers, myself included, appreciate.  There is still a need for convenience and personal service as far as I’m concerned.  One hopes that the smaller, independent photography retailers and the likes of Calumet can manage to survive in these tough times.

I bought my first ‘proper’ camera from Jessops many years ago.  And it’s that camera which set me on the path of portrait and glamour photography, Internet forums and making several new friends.  The camera was the Olympus E-20P – a 5 megapixel fixed lens (f/2.0 – f/2.4) SLR camera.  Quite a cutting edge camera in it’s day, I can remember going to buy it from Jessops and coming away some £1300 lighter.  A 256Mb compact flash card was £40!

I still have the E-20P, fully working and in its box with all the original items, manuals and packaging.  I”ve seen that they currently sell on Ebay for around £100 – £150.  Maybe I’ll part with it one day…

The photograph below is of Sally, taken at a Bolton photography studio in 2003 with the Olympus E-20P.  Note that the E-20P captured images with a 4:3 aspect ratio as opposed to the 3:2 aspect ratio of my later cameras. (click the image to enlarge)

Thanks for reading and feel free to comment.


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