We Chat to LensFayre Owners Alecia and Dan About Their New Snap Camera

Photos: Nathan Langman
Interview: Nathan Langman
Monday 17 July 2023
reading time: min, words

Snapping pictures on your phone may be quick and simple, but sometimes you want to go a bit deeper with photography. Luckily, LensFayre in Sneinton Market is here to help. Selling a variety of cameras, offering repairs and advice and providing budding photographers with things to get involved in. We sat down with owners Alecia and Dan to find out what they have going on...

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Why don’t you start by introducing yourselves?
We’re Alecia and Dan from LensFayre, an indie analogue/film camera store. We’ve officially been around for just over three years now. Dan was originally repairing and selling cameras through eBay as a side-hustle from home; it was going really well, so we thought “why don’t we try and turn this into something a bit more legitimate business?” 

In March 2020, just before the first lockdown, we launched on Depop. In the beginning we thought it might just have been the worst possible time to set up a business, but it actually ended up being quite successful. We found that, with more free time, a lot of people had decided to pick up film photography for the first time, as well as those getting back into it. 

To hear of a local independent business like this that started in lockdown and went from basically nothing to Depop to having a physical location in Sneinton Market after three years is incredible.
Dan: We’re incredibly proud of what we’ve achieved. The intention was never to really start on Depop. We’re now much less active on there and have driven that audience to the website instead. We quickly built a strong reputation for providing excellent customer service and high quality refurbished cameras. In three years we’ve sold well over 2000 cameras and received almost 800 five star reviews across all of our platforms.
Alecia: Our goal was to be more than just a regular camera store. As two people who have come from low-income backgrounds, it was important to us to be as accessible as possible. We actively source cameras in need of repair and refurbishment, so that we can restore them and sell them on. We’ve always had a community driven focus. During the peak of lockdown we tried to encourage positive social engagement through an Instagram project and hashtag #creativesincaptivity, which we shared on our page. We ran competitions to win free film, as well raising money to support local charities. 

What are the next steps for LensFayre?
Alecia: Now that we have a physical location, we plan on getting a member of staff who can support us with our admin and workload so we can dedicate more time to bringing our focus back around to our community and social engagement. We’re already working on this with our involvement in organising the Analogue Spotlight events. We also co-partnered a project called the United Photo Collective, (initially founded by photographer Lee Kidd) which is a quarterly photography zine that raises money for community nominated charities and social causes. We’re keen to start this back up again in the near future. Since late 2022 we have partnered with Urban Outfitters to sell both our refurbished cameras and our reusable camera, the Snap LF-35M, through their website - which has kept us really busy!

I’m really excited about your Snap Camera, can you tell us more about how this idea came about?
Alecia: Our preference is always to try and steer customers towards choosing a refurbished camera, but there’s always going to be customers who just prefer to shoot disposables, because they prefer the lo-fi aesthetic. We wanted to create a camera that offered this, but was a more sustainable alternative to wasteful disposables. The reusable Snap Camera is entirely carbon neutral, all of the packaging is either recyclable or biodegradable - including the custom stickers. We plant one tree for every camera manufactured and another tree when it’s sold. Lastly, we operate a recycling scheme for when the camera reaches the end of its life-cycle. As far as we’re aware, the Snap is the only camera to offer all of this so far.

We’re just creatives who happen to be running our own business

There’s a genuine passion which comes off of you both and I think it shines through in everything that you do.
We’re just creatives who happen to be running our own business now. We’ve had a lot of support from other creatives within the analogue community, such as 35mmc who helped us with our press release for our Snap Camera launch and champions our business, as well as the Analogue Wonderland team, who stock our camera and have collaborated with us a few times. We’ve had a lot of support from the analogue photography community here in Nottingham too - especially from the awesome guys at Make It Easy Lab and London Camera Exchange, who are constantly recommending our business to customers.

You have just collaborated with the Nottingham Craft Beer Festival, which was a great time, tell us about that.
Alecia: We basically spoke to them and pitched our Snap Camera, they worked with us to create a custom skin for it with the NCBF branding and we did a small run which was on sale here all weekend. It was a fun collaboration and a unique addition to the festival, as a memento for attendees. We’d definitely be keen to do it again in the future!

Now you have this awesome space, what’s the plan for this going forward?
Alecia: Initially, our space was intended to just be a dedicated workshop for us, as we’d outgrown running our business from home. We needed a proper space to do repairs, refurbishment and package orders, but we also want to do some social events and collaborate more with local businesses.
Dan: We’re also trialling a one on one maintenance/repair workshop, as well as portfolio reviews and even photowalks. We’ll soon be offering a photo restoration service, cinefilm conversions, and perhaps even curating and publishing community photo zines. 

Anything else you’d like to discuss or promote?
Alecia: We’ve got the second Analogue Spotlight event coming up in October, which will be in Nottingham at Nonsuch Studios this year. Last year we hosted a diverse range of both prominent and emerging figures within the analogue community, including some bigger brands, like Kodak, Ilford and Intrepid Camera. It’s a great analogue photography convention, with engaging talks, workshops and vendors.

LensFayre can be found at Unit 23, Sneinton Market, Avenue B, Nottingham


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