“These antique cameras are close to my heart. They have been with me for more than 50 years now. I pretty much grew up with them.
I am 67 years old and I am known as Dilish Parekh, the man, who has been collecting cameras for the past 42 years. It all started when my grandfather gifted me 600 cameras from his own collection, back in 1970.
He was a camera collector himself. I vividly remember the afternoons I spent with him, learning the nitty-gritty of the camera. It’s somewhere there, that I developed a liking for photography. Everything I know about the craft today, all the credit goes to him.
Even though I belong to a family of gemologists and jewelers, photography has always been my first love. Soon after I got my first camera I started shooting for the Hindi edition of local newspapers while continuing my passion to collect the cameras. I have collected these priceless pieces from places like old studios and flea markets though I also buy them new. In fact, I had also advertised in the newspapers to buy cameras from people. Those were pre-internet days and nobody knew the value or history of these items. To this day, I have never spent more than 2000 on a single antique camera in my collection.
In my career as a photojournalist, I have covered many path-breaking stories but the moment that stands out in my career would be the Mumbai serial bomb blasts in 1993. I was around Zaveri bazaar when a series of bombs ripped through the neighbourhood. I was stunned for a moment but I immediately grabbed my camera and started taking the pictures even before the police got there. It was the most devastating incident I had ever come across but I managed to turn my mind to the job at hand and take those photographs.
Looking back at my journey, I am proud to say that my camera collection includes cameras from the period of 1890 to1960. Today, I own 4,425 antique cameras and many more digital cameras of well known brands. I park my car outside my house as I use my garage to store these cameras! I have also kept some special ones inside my house as a showcase. My favorite camera amongst all will always be Leica 250 Reporter Rangefinder camera which I bought it from an old Parsi gentleman. I am a two-time Guinness Book of World Record Holder and have been in the Limca Book of World Records ten times, as well as the India Books Records. You name a camera from the past and I will have it somewhere in my garage!”
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