Hi Bellamy, greetings from Scotland and thank you for spending some time with us. For those folks who maybe aren’t familiar with your website and your services can you tell us a little about where you’re based, what you do and how you got started?
My name is Bellamy Hunt and I run JapanCameraHunter. I am based in Tokyo and have been selling cameras and running the site for about 7 years now. I source cameras, sell film, promote film photography and basically live a photography lifestyle. I was fortunate enough to be given a chance to work for a famous camera supply company in Tokyo, which gave me an opening to the market in Japan. Over the years I have been lucky enough to follow my passion and turn it into my living.
So what does your average day look like?
I put the kettle on. I cannot face the the day without a cup of tea. My office is about 10 minutes from my house on my bike, which gets me ready for the day. It is not as glamorous as some might think. Yes, there are lots of cool cameras and photography things to geek over, but the first thing is facing the daily mountain of emails. Then it just goes from there, depending on meetings and so on. But I try to make it a rule that I finish by 7pm and go home. You have to separate work and home otherwise you never stop working.
And have you seen an increase in requests for film cameras in the last few years?
Absolutely. It has got to the point now that I just cannot possibly fulfill every request. I have stopped sourcing compact cameras now as I simply cannot find enough of them. But I still do my best to make sure I find as many people as possible their perfect camera.
And what gave you the inspiration to start producing your own Japan Camera Hunter film?
Well, there was a lot of negative news about film. I knew I had the connections and the support to do something like this and I thought that it would be a real boost for the community. It was a lot of stress and it will certainly not make me a rich man, but I feel it has really helped to give people a sense that all is not lost and that film is here to stay.
I’ve been reading a lot about the versatility of this film. Is it true it’s “traffic camera film”? Can you give us an insight into the characteristics of StreetPan 400 and what conditions it’s ideally suited for?
Yes, it was a traffic surveillance film, so it was really designed to be good in inclement conditions. It works well with contrasting shadows and it has a friendly altitude. It is probably not best for bright daylight, but the backstreets and the light traps really bring out the best in this film. I wish I could geek out about the chemistry, but I rarely have time to develop. Though I do personally like to use Rodinal and get those rich blacks.
And any quick tips on shooting with this film?
Try metering for shadows and see how it picks up detail. And don’t be afraid of the rain, this film really seems to like it.
Well that's good news for us here in Scotland! I see that development times are all on your website but for those of us who are maybe just getting started any tips on processing at a local lab or high street photo developers? Is it just a regular process for black and white film?
I would say use the massive dev chart for the development details. That is the most up to date and most labs use it as a reference. It really depends on what your local lab uses. Most places are D-76 though. It is just a regular process, nothing fancy.
And finally, any advice for people starting out on their film photography journey?
Don’t worry about the mistakes. Some of them turn out to be very rewarding. And make sure you go and print in the darkroom, at least once. It changes how you look at your images and how you take pictures. Enjoy the process.
Bellamy, cheers and thanks again for your time and sharing this with us. I personally can’t wait to see the results from our first month of shooting with StreetPan 400, hopefully it’ll be the start of a long and beautiful relationship for many of us.
Thank you for having me. I hope you enjoy the film.
Photo credit both headshots © Keichi Kondo / JCH StreetPan 400