I am probably the prototypical old-guy photographer,” confesses Mike Wojcik, who opened Spartan Photo Center at age 19 with his brother 36 years ago. He’s referring to the fact that he doesn’t have a degree in photography. Instead, he studied business in college and developed technical skills on his own.
Family-run Spartan Photo focuses on a full range of cameras, lenses, and accessories in addition to offering film developing, equipment rentals, and classes. At any given time, the store stocks anywhere from 25–50 different brands of new cameras and 25 used models—including vintage cameras.
In 2001, Wojcik “drank the Kool-Aid” and sold his film cameras in favor of digital. But a few years back, a customer reignited his interest by exposing him to her own passion for film. “There’s a nostalgia to film,” Mike says. “It’s similar to getting a real letter instead of an email—that’s the experience. I forgot how much fun [using film] is.”
Spartan Photo Center, 108 Garner Rd, Spartanburg. (864) 583-6835, spartanphotocenter.com
Fujifilm Instax Square SQ6 Instant Camera
Pearl White, $130
“Instax is Fuji’s version of a Polaroid. You take a picture and out it comes in 3–5 minutes. My daughter takes it to friends’ weddings, and people say ‘Wow, I’ve never seen this before.’ It’s wonderful new technology that’s 70 years old.”—Mike Wojcik
Lomography Diana, $100
“That’s your modern vintage camera. The Diana was my brother’s first camera when he was 3. My grandmother bought it for him for 99 cents. It’s a fun little plastic camera because it’s got a lot of settings. You take it out and you get what you get.”—MW
Lomography Spinner 360, $100
“The Spinner is a funky camera because it doesn’t give you many pictures, but each picture is 360 degrees. It has this little string you pull and when you let go, it makes the exposure 360 degrees. This was the original one-shot panoramic camera.”—MW
Lomography Lomo’Instant Automat Glass Magellan, $180
“The Magellan is one of the more expensive instant film cameras. It’s a real instant camera—it’s got auto-focus and a glass lens. It’s more variable as far as the exposures it can make, so it’s a little more camera than the other three.”—MW
Masters of American Photography
Ansel Adams, Margaret Bourke-White, Alfred Stieglitz. Those names represent some of the best photographic chroniclers of American life in the twentieth century. Thanks to an exhibition organized by the Reading Public Museum, the works of these and other renowned photographers will be on display at the Upcountry History Museum. In addition to depicting America’s cultural and natural history, these important works illustrate the evolution of photographic techniques.
Upcountry History Museum, 540 Buncombe St, Greenville. May 1–Aug 7. Tues–Sat, 10am–5pm. Adults, $10; children 4–18, $8; children 3 and under, free. (864) 467-3100, upcountryhistory.org