by Stacey Anderson, Media Archivist and Russell Soper, Soperfect Images

Russell Soper of Soperfect Images has been working with us on the development of our Media Lab gallery. Stacey Anderson, our Media Archivist and gallery lead, asked him a few questions to help explain his involvement. Read on to find out how he’s been helping us.

Q: What’s your involvement with The Box project?
A: Drawing on my knowledge about photography and vintage camera equipment, I was approached to help identify details about the cameras that have been chosen to go on display in the Media Lab gallery. I can’t wait to see the gallery come to life and would love to continue my involvement perhaps through supporting photography workshops and or other projects in the future.

Russell Soper of Soperfect Images, PlymouthQ: What do you do?
A: I run an independent camera shop specialising in vintage, retro and collectable cameras along with photographic memorabilia. We buy, part exchange and sell on commission anything from a single camera to a whole collection. We carry out camera servicing and repairs and have a large selection of film available. We also offer taster photography workshops to get people interested in shooting film.

Q: What’s your 52 cameras project about?
A: The 52 cameras 52 weeks project was an idea between myself and Ashley, a local photographer. I would pick a different camera from the shop every week and he would shoot it, process the film and complete a short write up about his experience with the camera. I wanted to show that the cameras in the shop are fully working and useable. Cameras ranged from 1890 to the 1980’s during the project.

Q: What’s next? 
A: I’m starting a disposable camera project in the new year. I would also love to set up an analogue camera club called ‘We shoot film’. This would be another community project with monthly meetings, projects, talks, help and advice. It would be aimed at all age groups as a lot of young people are choosing to photograph with film.

Q: How did you get into photography?
A: I’ve been a photographer for many years. I started with landscapes then moved into event photography. I’ve photographed many sports events including indoor diving competitions, boxing and football. A stroke meant I couldn’t carry on with the photography on a full time basis. I’d been collecting cameras for a long time so I decided to set up the shop.

A Rochester Optical Company folding cameraQ: What’s your favourite item within your collection?
A: I have two cameras that are not for sale in the shop (pictured right): a Rochester Optical Company folding camera and an unnamed Japanese folding camera. Both of these date to the early 1900’s. The Rochester camera is still fully working.

Q: Have you enjoyed working with The Box?
A: Of course. I think The Box will be an amazing interactive hub for Plymouth’s heritage. It’s great that this is happening right on our doorstep. The combination of collections that will be on display sounds really interesting. I think it’s going to be something that people can be really proud of.

Q: Why is it important to celebrate the development of photography and media?
A: Photography, cameras and the way we take pictures have all changed so much over the last 150 years. Photographs can also help show how much places have changed – Plymouth is a prime example of this. Vintage cameras can also be a great learning tool for people. The skills learnt on an old film camera can always be transferred to modern cameras.

A big thank you to Russell for taking the time to answer these questions and for sharing his camera knowledge, which has proved invaluable for our Media Lab gallery.