Richard Spiess

Photo: Brad Paris

You work in the camera department. What’s the best starter camera to buy now?
Digital SLRs with lenses that come off, like Nikon’s D50 or Canon’s Rebel XT. They have all the same automatic modes that the small point-and-shoots have, so they’re just as easy to use. But they’re a little larger, which gives you better image quality.

Are you a photographer?
In my spare time. I shoot abstract pictures using cameras without lenses and with long exposures. My best series was done in twenty-minute exposures in some of the darkest alleys in the city.

How many cameras do you own?
Maybe 40. I have a few collectibles from the 1900s that I found at garage sales. I bought a 1908 Kodak for 50 cents, and it’s worth $700.

Do you have a darkroom at home?
No. The best darkrooms in the city are at the ICP; if you’re an ex-student, you can rent them.

What’s next in camera technology?
The big thing is that prices are going down. Cameras that were $3,000 two years ago are now $500. Same with plasma and LCD TVs—rumor has it that there will be more price drops come fall because of a Sony and Samsung partnership.

Do you sell to paparazzi?
Sure. You can tell them apart because they’re in a hurry, looking to replace something that broke. They carry large-lens cameras—the higher-end stuff, for durability. They’re jumping into cabs, getting beaten up by celebrities.

Richard Spiess