Celebrating PHSNE’s 50th Anniversary & Photographica 90
What is Photographica and why would I want to go?
Here’s the What:
Photographica is a one-day buy-and-sell event that includes every aspect of analog (film) photography: cameras, daguerreotypes, lenses, cdv & cabinet prints, darkroom equipment, photo postcards, books & magazines, snapshots, accessories, ephemera … you name it. This year it happens on the 50th anniversary year of the founding of PHSNE, and it’s the 90th version of PHSNE’s Photographica Show. There’s nothing like it anywhere in New England and the East Coast.
Here’s the Where & When:
The 2023 show is at Newton North High School (NNHS), 457 Walnut St. in Newton, MA, on Saturday, April 22, 2023. Doors open for Early Birds at 7:00 AM ($20); general admission at 9:00 AM ($5); PHSNE members, students, photography instructors, and active military (please bring IDs) enter FREE! Dealer tables close at 4:00 PM; the Auction Preview is 4:00 PM—4:30 PM; the PHSNE Auction begins at 4:30 PM and goes until all lots (100+) are sold.
Why do people attend this show?
Winning the last lot
Back in the day, Photographica was a traditional hobby trade show. It has evolved into something Show Manager John Dockery refers to as “a yearly Photographic Woodstock Festival (but inside, with restrooms) without all the sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll; at least, not that we know of.” In addition, Photographica is a hands-on experience for photographers and collectors to ask questions, pick up and hold the analog camera of your dreams and … you get the idea. Photographica is a place to learn about, explore, and share information on any aspect of analog photography. Attendees are curious, interested in learning about the tools, processes, and images created using analog or a combination of digital and analog methods. It’s also a great place to find deals on equipment, images, books, and more.
Bags for the treasure
Photographica began in 1973, and 50 years and 90 shows later, the reason people attend remains the same: the range of items, selection, and pricing are without equal anywhere. If you care about cameras and images, you’ll find yourself surrounded by people who share your interests.
How do I get there?
Driving: The Mass Pike/I-90 has east- and west-bound offramps at Newton Corner. Once off the ‘Pike, head west on Washington St. for about a mile (follow signs to Newtonville); at the intersection of Washington & Walnut streets, turn left (south) onto Walnut. Newton North High School is about 1/3 mile on the right; turn in and head for the parking lot.
- How much does it cost to park? Nothing.
- How big is the free parking lot? Huge.
Is public transit available?
Wooden cameras & red bellows
Yes. The MBTA commuter rail (Worcester Line
) Saturday schedule
. Newtonville is a flag stop and NOT
handicapped-accessible. Tell the conductor ahead of time you want to get off at the Newtonville stop. Once on the platform walk west and climb the stairway, then walk south 1/3 mile to NNHS on the west side of Walnut St. Trains in either direction run about every two hours. Check the schedules online. Two bus routes have Saturday schedules, check departure times online or use one of the mobile MBTA bus apps. Route 59
runs outbound between Watertown Square and Needham Junction. It’s a 7-10 minute trip from Watertown Terminal to the Walnut and Clyde St. stop in front of NNHS. Route 553
runs between Roberts (Brandeis University) and Newton Corner, and stops at the intersection of Washington and Walnut streets. It’s a 1/3 mile walk south on Walnut to NNHS.
What happens at Photographica?
Photographica is a show for photographic items only. People come to look, learn, buy, sell, and trade camera equipment, images, and ephemera related to photography. It’s not a flea market, so if you’re searching for a violin, a rattan chair, or an old flat iron, they’re not at Photographica. However, you might find photographs of a woman who seems to be part violin, a very large man in a rattan chair, or a striking building in New York’s Flatiron neighborhood.
(L – R) Man Ray, Le Violon d’Ingres (Kiki de Montparnasse, aka Alice Prin), 1924. This original vintage print sold for $12.4 million USD in May 2022 – a record price for a single photograph at auction. – Christie’s New York
William Howard Taft, Governor-General of the Philippines, likely in Manila, seated in a sturdy rattan chair, c. 1901. Photographer unidentified. – Library of Congress; Taft papers.
Berenice Abbott, Flatiron Building, 23rd St & 5th Avenue, New York, 1938. – Federal Art Project; New York Public Library
Last year we had over 450 attendees; this year we are expecting 500 to attend. Attendees of all ages, stages, and sizes are welcome. While today there are cameras in everyone’s purse or pocket, that disposable cell phone camera is no match for a Leica, Canon, Nikon, Rolleiflex, Speed Graphic, Linhof, 1920s folding camera, or earlier cameras that were wooden works of art that made large-format photographs. You can find all of them here.
How many tables?
70+ tables; at least 450 linear feet combined—-one and a half football fields!
What’s on the 70+ tables?
Any cameras, photographs, lenses, books on photography, accessories, or any other items related to photography ever created could be on a table. An attendee once asked John Dockery: “Will there be any Rolleiflexes at Photographica for me to look at?” His response was: “How many dozens would you like to see?”
- 35mm? Of course!
- Medium format? We’ll have them all.
35mm cameras galore
- Leicas? Absolutely.
- Photo images? At least 10 tables worth.
- Large format? Speed Graphics, Crown Graphics, 4×5, 5×7, 8×10 and larger. You can bet on it.
A classic Leica M3
- Antique and collectible cameras? Yes.
- Brass lenses and red bellows? There will be some there.
- Old box cameras that I can use to make pinhole cameras for practically nothing? Hundreds of them.
- Photography books? How-to as well as artists’ monographs? No problem.
- Alternative photographic processes? Got it covered.
- Digital? There will be some digital cameras and other electronic items. It’s not the focus of the show, however.
30’s Super Ikonta BX
Who’s behind those 70+ tables?
We have an assortment of amazing show dealers who are very knowledgeable and have been at this for a long time, from all over the world. Many are acknowledged authorities on the items they sell and stand behind them. They will show you and teach you as well as answer your questions. We got rid of the jerk dealers decades ago.
How do I pay for things?
The Dollar Table
Bring a supply of cash money; you’ll be glad you did. ATMs are not onsite, though there are some in the area. Dealers prefer cash. There is WiFi available at NNHS, so some dealers may be using online payment systems. The Dollar Table is strictly cash.
Is there an admission charge?
Yes. General admission at 9:00 AM is a whopping $5.00. The same price it’s been for most of the past 88 shows. No inflation here. If you want to be an Early Bird (7:00 AM), admission will cost $20.
What about free admission?
Dealer $1 bins
Yes. Students with an in-date ID from high school, college or graduate school are FREE. Teachers of photography classes (with ID) are FREE. Active military are FREE with ID. PHSNE members are FREE.
PHSNE is the acronym for the Waltham-based Photographic Historical Society of New England, Inc. PHSNE is a non-profit 501(c)(3) educational society which sponsors Photographica. Check out the PHSNE website at phsne.org
for more information about PHSNE’s meetings, publications, field trips, and updates on Photographica and the PHSNE Auction. When you get to Photographica, you might want to join PHSNE
($25 for the first year) and get in free.
Is that food over there?
The show is in the school’s cafeteria and there are vending machines available. There are lots of eateries within walking distance. Your attendee ticket is good for re-admittance to the show. Once refreshed, better get back to the show for more specialized training and equipment gathering. We’ll have the usual day-long complimentary coffee. Is it Starbucks? No, but it’s better than most donut shops. Plus, there will be complementary cake and ice cream until it runs out. Serving begins around 1:00 PM as always. Yes, there is a Starbucks within walking distance.
What’s the Dollar Table? I hear it’s special and shouldn’t be missed?
Imagine piles of photographic items heaped on top of tables, a kind of rummage sale; then imagine a somewhat refined and dignified rugby scrum at those tables. All items are $1.00. It starts at 11:00 AM. Play nice in the rugby scrum, and remember to share, people!
Is there going to be an auction after the show ends at 4:00 PM?
Who will start the bidding?
Yes. Over 100 photo-related lots will be auctioned off in the same location. The auction starts at 4:30 PM. We’ll be done by 7:00 PM. The list of items to be auctioned will be posted on the PHSNE website at phsne.org/photographica around a week prior to the show.
Can attendees bring items to sell at Photographica?
Yes. But there are rules, see below:
- You must be able to carry the items in with you.
- The items for sale must be photo items.
- You are allowed to ask dealers only if they are interested in buying the cameras that Uncle Hermie and Aunt Bee left you.
Rainbow color box cameras
- You cannot approach other attendees.
- You cannot act like a clown or be a pain to anyone.
Who should come to Photographica?
- Anyone who knows the smell of photo fixer in the morning, or would like to learn what photo fixer smells like in the morning.
- Anyone who likes photography.
- Anyone who likes images.
- Anyone who likes history.
- We don’t care who you are. If you want to learn more about photography, you’re okay with us.
Who shouldn’t come to Photographica?
The Tripod Forest
- Anyone who’s in a big rush to see and learn everything there is to know about photography in an hour. If you’re into this, you’re probably going to spend a long time at Photographica. Plan on spending most of the day.
- Anyone who doesn’t play nice with others.
- Anyone looking to buy an actual violin, rattan chair, or a bunch of old flat irons — you could hurt your back!
- Will masks be mandated? Not unless the city of Newton, the state of Massachusetts, or the CDC changes the current rules.
- Can I wear a mask? Yes. You can wear a bubble suit; it’s up to you.
- The school is fully accessible.
A Final Comment
Taking in the scene …
Photographica is fun! Really. There are so many things to see, discover, touch (with permission), and learn about. The Dollar Table chaos is fun to watch; the ice cream and cake is a break for everyone, and the PHSNE Auction offers both high and low humor, along with some really great deals. Join us on April 22nd!
PHOTOGRAPHICA – Go for the Deals – Stay for the People