Zooming in on East Brookside’s Dereninger Camera Repair, still analogue after all these years

At Dereninger Camera Repair, there’s no internet, no computers — just a landline, and it doesn’t even have long-distance. Archie McGhee has been working here for over forty years, and he still comes in seven days a week, even when the East Brookside shop is closed to the public.

“Wouldn’t want to be sittin’ around at home,” he says. “No good at that.”

A long, long time ago — the 1960s — Archie was an electrician in the Navy, a skill that eventually led Cecil Dereninger to hire him. Dereninger opened the shop in 1946. It started out on Broadway, then moved to the Crestwood Shops, and now sits at 616 E. 63rd Street. Archie’s wife, Mary Pat, started doing camera intakes and keeping the books in 1990, and in 2000 the McGhees bought the business from the Dereninger family.

Camera repair isn’t exactly a booming industry these days, but the McGhees have found creative ways to keep their enterprise afloat. High school art programs in the area are their biggest source of business. And Archie has a reputation for solving repair puzzles — he salvages parts from junk cameras and even makes his own parts when he can’t get his hands on the right one. “It drives him crazy if he can’t fix something,” Mary Pat says.

The niche of camera romantics in the city know they can rely on Dereninger to service their precious tools. They also have learned patience. Despite Archie’s everyday dedication to the job, the repair queue tends to be pretty full — they (literally) don’t make ‘em like this anymore.

Photos by Chase Castor.