Fort Worth Camera
1600 Montgomery St.
Fort Worth 76107
Now there’s more to love about Fort Worth Camera.
The popular photographic imaging and retail store has a new home at 1600 Montgomery St., across from the Museum of Science and History in the city’s Cultural District.
The new location is 10,000 square feet, about three times larger than the previous location on West Sixth Street, where the store had been since 2009. It features expanded photography, printing and educational services, two larger classrooms, a photo gallery to showcase local photographers and Fort Worth Camera (FWC) students’ work, a rental and training studio, and much more parking.
Customers will also find a larger and wider selection of major brands, including Nikon, Sony, Pentax, Canon, Zeiss, Tamron, Sigma and Promaster for sale or rent.
“While we have always had a good business, we have been busting at the seams for years and our current space wasn’t big enough for us to accomplish our goals,” said FWC owner Jeff Masure. “I’ve always wanted to be able to host more high-quality photography events, photography classes and photography lectures, but just haven’t had the space or parking. So I decided years ago that if it was in the cards, we would move into a bigger building where we would have enough space to offer more classes, have rental studio space – for my personal use as well as customers’ – and we’ve always wanted to be able to offer our customers and Fort Worth more.”
Masure said he chose the new location because he has always loved the Cultural District. He recalled something his high school photography teacher told him once.
“‘We just had to make the drive to the Amon Carter and see Ansel Adams’ Moonrise over Hernandez photograph. This was 10th grade, if I remember correctly, back in 1995 or 1996,” he said. “I went, and while that visit didn’t tell me to open a camera store in the Cultural District after college, it did help start the photography flame inside.
“Years later, while working at a camera store in Dallas to help pay for college, I saw a large, constant flow of customers who would come in to the store for the first time in 10-15 years. So when I decided to open my store in Fort Worth after graduating, I thought it would be wise to open near the old Camera Shop-Fort Worth location and see if we would get lucky and get some of their old customers looking for them. To this day, we still get customers telling us stories of how they or their family shopped with us in the 70s or 80s or even further back (his store opened July 5, 2002). So staying close was also a factor when looking for land or a building.”
Among the highlights of the new store’s design is a “little yellow cube” that pays homage to the yellow tower across the street at the Science and History Museum. In fact, the cube, which juts from the building like a bay window, is aligned directly with the museum’s tower and serves as an indoor play area for children or simply a cool place to hang out while waiting to be helped.
“We didn’t want just a solid wall, we wanted something kind of fun,” said architect Bart Shaw, who worked with contractors Fort Construction.
“We take a lot of pride in this building. It’s really incredible,” he said.
Drivers on Montgomery Street will see a wall that resembles several large camera apertures. It allows sunlight to pass through into a small courtyard/walk area.
“Watching that giant panel being lifted with all the holes in it and the sun setting, it was beautiful,” Shaw said.
When visitors walk in they will be greeted by a large wall displaying a plethora of cameras. Shaw said the idea is to present them as an art project on a giant wall that was actually the first thing put in place during construction.
“We put this block in and built the building around it,” he said.
Passersby will also see the large FWC sign made of perforated steel, with spotlights shining on it at night. There is no mistaking the two-story camera building for anything else.
Masure said Fort Worth has been kind to his business.
“We are very fortunate to live in Fort Worth, where the economy has fared far better than many other parts of the country,” he said. “I’ve also tried to constantly reinvest back into the business, myself, our people, the community, our infrastructure, technology, and our customers whenever possible.
“There has been a little luck, some good timing, and a whole lot of hard work and effort to make this move and building possible. I’ve been working in the photo industry for over 20 years, so success takes time and effort. It has been a slow but steady journey forward.”
After seven years in its first location on Sixth Street, FWC expanded. Masure also opened a store in Grapevine in 2012. Still, more room was needed and he knew it.
“I made the decision to buy a building that wasn’t perfect in order to move forward instead of re-signing a lease in a space that wasn’t perfect either,” he said. “It ended up working out, and by paying off the loan as fast as possible, we put ourselves in a position to move forward with the new building.
“While I still consider myself young , I’ve been working in the photo industry for over 20 years and have yet to find any ‘magic bullets.'”
Masure said the new location will allow classes to be offered before and after normal work hours, along with accommodating multiple classes/events at the same time.
“With our gallery wall and downstairs classroom/flexroom, we will also offer studio rental as well as event space rental and photography exhibitions,” he said. “There are a few ideas still brewing in my mind that we will expand into once we are all moved in and established.”
Masure said the building’s design and signage is a perfect fit for the Cultural District.
“With all that is going on in Fort Worth, I felt it was important to build a building that worked well for our customers, fit in well with the museums and Cultural District, and made a statement,” he said. “Fort Worth has so much going for it and I’m lucky to call it my home. I think I had the right dream, and architect Bart Shaw had the vision and talent to help put it all together.”
However, like any business, the ultimate goal is the please the customer. Masure promised a great customer experience for anyone who walks through the doors, even those who are not expert photographers.
“Photography is so much fun and many people don’t know what all is possible with photography,” he said. “Many times customers have an idea of what is possible, but aren’t sure how to get the desired result.
“Our plan is that every customer will find something in our store that will benefit them and get them more excited and engaged in their photography.”