The first thing a good photographer needs to have is a good camera shop. Yeah, you can order anything online nowadays for a discount price, but then you don't get to play with the camera, to cross-shop cameras and equipment in person, which can make a big difference. You'll regret buying that cheap Nikon D40 if you find out it doesn't fit your hand!
Lansing really only has two stores to fill this need. You have Castle Photo in the Frandor mall area, and The Camera Shop on South Pennsylvania, near Meijer. Yes, there are a couple Ritz Cameras around, but you know what? Ritz sucks. They don't know what they're talking about and will give you bad information. Don't go there.
So Castle Photo. It's a bit hard to find, out by Sears in Frandor on Vine Street. It's easily the best area store for the film photographer, stocking chemicals, film cameras, and more film of all types than anyone in the area. It's really the only place I would go looking for old lenscaps, bargain film, or even used cameras. They also have a darkroom available to rent, and process everything from traditional black and white to modern digital printing. For digital SLRs they specialize in Canon, so if that's your bag then you're good to go.
The store has a nice hometown feel to it. It's a bit cluttered, but you aren't going to get lost in there or anything. If you need questions answered, I've never been let down by the staff, even when I've thrown oddball questions at them. They're open Monday-Friday 10-6, and Saturday 10-5.
The other area store is The Camera Shop, located at 6006 S Pennsylvania. The Camera Shop is much more modern than Castle, having embraced the digital age completely. They carry most digital brands, and have quite a large selection of cameras, lenses, and accessories. There is a small selection of film here, and they will process C41 and E6 film from 35mm up to 220, but do not have any black and white service other than C41. In addition, they don't stock slidefilm (E6), so you'd be stuck with print film. Their used camera selection is pretty small, and from what I learned from the man behind the counter, it doesn't turn over much. If you're looking for a bag, lighting gear, or digital prints, The Camera Shop has you covered. Visit them Monday through Friday 10-6, Saturday 11-4.
It's not really Lansing-related, but it's me-related. Starting on March 23rd, the Ann Arbor Krappy Kamera Club, of which I am a member, will be putting on a photo show. Two of my Polaroids were judged into the show, and I'm quite proud. This is a first for me! If you're in the area, like photography, or just want to meet interesting people and eat free snacks, drop by Gallery 4 between 7 and 10 pm.
If you need artwork for your walls, this is a good chance to get something meaningful and personal. We'll all be there to talk about our work, and the displayed work will also be for sale, so if you buy something you can get to know the artist and the history behind the piece. Check out the press release here.
I moved to Lansing, Michigan after living in the Ann Arbor area for quite some time. It was in Ann Arbor that my love for photography bloomed, and I came to love the community and friends that grew out of my passion for photography. We created a Krappy Kamera Club, and met up with other photographers from Flickr.
Circumstances (a wife in veterinary school at MSU) forced a change of location, and I found myself in the state capital. I quickly found much to photograph and much to remind me of Ypsilanti. The people, the decaying grand architecture, the surrounding farms. What I had, and still have, a hard time finding is a group of people, a community, to share my passion with.
So I'm creating this space to try to bring together people in the area who love Lansing, and love photography. Heck, loving Lansing is optional. Let's just fill this void, and come together to create something new, something this area lacks and sorely needs.