Photogenic Presents, Episode 5: Bellamy Hunt (Japan Camera Hunter)
Japan Camera Hunter is a Tokyo-based film photography connoisseur and procurer of high-end equipment. JCH - as most people know him - has established a reputation over the years of being able to find rare, limited-edition, and ultra pristine condition cameras and lenses from around the world.
In addition to his Instagram (an excellent source of film photography information), JCH also has his own film line, StreetPan400, which has become a cult hit among black and white film photographers.
To celebrate the launch of the brand new Photogenic x JCH Collection (our first global collab), we sat down - virtually - with Japan Camera Hunter to learn more about his work and how he got to where he is.
Stay tuned, we'll be launching more original designs for JCH soon...
So....How did you got started with photography and how long have you been shooting?
A long time a go in a country far away… I started shooting in earnest when I was about 14 years old and then pretty much continued until today. It has been one defining constant in my life.
You’re known around the world as Japan Camera Hunter. And yet, you’re not actually from Japan. Tell us about how you ended up in Japan, and what kept you there for so many years?
I was traveling the world as a backpacker and ended up in Japan. I decided to stay for a little while and that turned into 10+ years. Nowhere is perfect, but Japan is a pretty good place to be and perfect for my business. So I guess that is what keeps me here.
What is your favorite subject to photograph?
Well, that is tough. I don’t really have a favourite as it is more of a conceptual thing for me. I shoot what amuses me or makes me feel something. I try to see past what I am being presented and find a narrative. I would say I prefer taking pictures of places than of people though.
What cameras do you personally own in your collection? Which one is your primary camera these days?
I cannot tell you all of them, some are secret and there are people who would love to know what I have. My primary camera is a Leica MP-6 with a 35mm Summicron ASPH. As a backup I sometimes carry either a Contax T2 or a Canonet QL17.
How did you get into the high-end camera trade? What was the impetus to start hunting down rare, unique and often ultra-expensive cameras?
It kind of evolved from the camera sourcing. I started to find rare items, and the more I found the more people asked for them. Now many items come to me so I am able to offer collectors a lot a very special pieces.
What’s the coolest camera you’ve ever come across? What’s the most expensive camera you’ve ever sold? Who bought it?
The coolest was probably a Nikkor Prototype OT lens. Only one was made. I am not at liberty to say where it is. The most expensive I am not allowed to talk about directly as client confidentiality is important to me, but it cost about the same as a high end sports car.
If you could meet and spend a day with any one photographer, living or dead, who would it be?
Good question... Maybe Garry Winogrand, as he was amazing. Though we would probably not talk much. Either him or perhaps Robert Frank, I would love to have a chat with him.
When visiting Tokyo, where do you recommend photographers go to spend a day shooting?
Everywhere! Tokyo is amazing and everything is a visual treat. But Yoyogi park at the weekend is a lot of fun, so many characters.
What is a can’t-miss shop in Tokyo for hardcore film photographers?
There are too many to mention. Perhaps Fujiya in Nakano, or MAP in Shinjuku. But seriously, there are so many.
Your JCH StreetPan 400 Film is available around the world, and has become something of a cult hit with film photographers who know their stuff. Can you hint at what might be next for you? What else can JCH fans worldwide look forward to in the coming months?
I cannot say exactly what we are up to but we are cooking up some new things. We are still working on the compact camera, and there is the possibility of a new film. There are a lot of exciting things in the pipeline.
What’s your favorite TogTees design (other than the JCH x TogTees ones!)
I wear the 35mm cap everyday, haha.
Who is one famous person we should send a JCH Tee to?
Have you ever been to Philadelphia? If not, why not?
I haven’t. But that is because nobody has invited me…..
Well, consider yourself invited... come visit anytime. We'll show you the best spots to make some great photographs.
Check out our very own original Japancamerahunter Collection.
Editor's Note: From 2016-2021, Photogenic Supply was called TogTees. We changed our name in mid-2021, but you might still occasionally see our old name on our website. We're still the same people :)