Denton Camera Exchange Fills a Need in the Community
Two men hover over a camera. One with a flash light in mouth, the other with hands on the camera.
“Oh shit, dude, we did it.”
They exchange a giggle to celebrate the repair of a camera, a camera they say they probably broke in the first place.
Armand Kohandani looks closely at the pieces of a camera.
Patience is a talent, one Armand Kohandani, owner and operator of Denton Camera Exchange, has mastered over the almost five years his shop has been open.
Opened in June of 2013, he wanted to fill a need in Denton community, and he said many have been appreciative of it.
“At first I got a warm welcome from the community, there’s a lot of people like, ‘I’m so glad you’re here’ and I still get it a lot,” Kohandani said. “There’s no shortage of praise when it comes to the need that I do fulfill for people who don’t really have anywhere to go.”
The shop buys and sells cameras mainly, but also tries to serve as an all-in-one camera needs shop. Everything from repair, maintenance, film purchase, film development and even general camera and photography advice.
Camera repair being something Kohandani never “learned”, he is self-taught through each time he cracks open a camera, or whatever object, and simply tries. Something, he said he has been doing since he was a kid.
“Getting my hands dirty and learning, doing it and succeeding and failing too, that’s a huge part of it a lot of time,” Kohandani said. “Sometimes I got to chalk it up to a learning experience and I’m okay with that because all is not lost even when it seems like it.”
The store is a trove of camera treasures jam-packed in a small building behind Midway Mart.
Although Kohandani is mostly a one man show, Oscar Cabral has been coming in a few times a week for about a month to work and “hang out with Armand or whatever interesting person comes in.” After visiting the business for over a year, he enjoys hearing the stories about whatever items come through the door.
“There’s always a story to one of these old cameras,” Cabral said. “Like this little Minolta came from Japan. That’s super cool, what are the chances of that ending up in Denton of all places?"
Kohandani’s parents own Mi Casita, a Mexican restaurant which shares a parking lot with Denton Camera Exchange. He grew up helping out the business which made the transition into his own come with somewhat ease.
“It kind of worked out well because I was already in the industry of serving people and filling a need in the community,” Kohandani said. “I kind of had that ingrained in me since I was a kid.”
Because of Mi Casita, he was familiar with business owners in the lot and talked to the family who owned the Yarbrough Pharmacy, which was there before Denton Camera Exchange.
Kohandani thought digital photography was going to be its main audience but it became balanced with film to his pleasure as it was something he grew up on. A lot of the film community has come out of the woodwork to the shop, mostly because there aren’t any places in Denton that do film services anymore.
“After I opened, there’s been this really cool community of people that just kind of sprang up and come together in a way too out of just the love of film photography in general,” Kohandani said. “I’ve met a lot of cool people I wouldn’t have met them if it wasn’t for the shop, I get to meet all sorts of interesting people that come in and out of the store, there’s a love for it and a there's a need for it out there.”
As far as expanding the business’ reach, he hopes to get out into the community more. He has repurposed an old food truck he had to be a pop-up shop with a studio and darkroom and hopes to take it to the community market and around town.
Photos by Tori Falcon.
Header image layout design by Christopher Rodgers.