Central Camera Fire

By now, if you’re in my community of film and camera enthusiasts, you’ve probably already heard that there was a fire at Central Camera in downtown Chicago last night as a result of protests over the death of George Floyd.  Owner Don Flesch was interviewed last night by a local Chicago TV station saying he wasn’t angry at what happened to his store, but what caused it in the first place.

A fire broke out last night at Central Camera in Chicago as a result of protests in the neighborhood.


Central Camera is about a 45 minute drive from my house and it’s a place I’ve been to a number of times.  I am friends with Johnny Sisson who works there and have been toured the store a variety of times.

It’s hard to fully explain how I feel about this as of course there are far more important things in the world than a camera store.  The building and all of the contents in it were insured and can be replaced, and no one was hurt, so in reality, not much was lost.

In a way, I am lucky that it takes an old camera store to catch fire for me to feel the effects of what caused this.  I am white and have never experienced real racism or hatred.  Although me and my family are not rich, we live in luxury compared to many less fortunate today.  There are people in my country that aren’t so lucky, as things like taking a walk through the park, having an outdoor barbecue, or simply going to work may result in them being victims of brutality, racism, or hate.

I don’t have to worry about those things.  My family and I are healthy and have largely been spared the horrors of COVID-19, and I don’t live in a country with extremist governments like China or North Korea where human rights are violated on an every day basis.

So while Central Camera will rebuild, and everything in it was replaced, it’s events like this that are reminders that this affects us all.


  1. I’d like to express my admiration for, and agreement with, Don Flesch. I used to go to that store sometimes as a kid with my dad, it’s a shame to see it damaged; I’m very glad no one was hurt in the fire.

    I hope to see a day when outrage and riots no longer happen. A sense of justice and human decency would be a step in the right direction.

  2. A tragedy on many levels. Mr. Flesch’s response was amazing, though. Kudos to him for being a beacon in dark times and giving hope that we can learn to be better if we can follow his example.

  3. Paying professional rioters to spread destruction in hopes of creating a “race war” and/or covering up the schemes of crooked cops will not bring about anything good for the purported victims. Maybe if politicians, educators, and social media bosses would refocus on the fine qualities that make this nation unique – qualities like functioning families, success based on merit rather than by self-proclaimed victim group membership – instead of concentrating on its warts, even those that are 100 years old – we could turn this ship back around. The past need not control the future. Evil need not triumph.

  4. I have to agree with John R Flinn’s comments above. George Floyd deserves justice and that police officer should be jailed for life. but this behaviour will only serve to fan the flames of hatred, no pun intended

  5. What has Central Camera Shop (or any camera shop)ever done to any community but good for domestic terrorists and looters to give any political or social validity
    to such behaviour? NONE!
    I have seen,heard,and read about acts like this for decades and it never adds up to any value or social changes and destroys the very communities they are in.
    I wish Don the very best in recovery ! And I wish for healing for the nation.

  6. What exactly does your White skin color have to do with this Mike? One makes good choices in life, and apparently that makes you a person of privilege? That is asinine. One makes bad choice and apparently that makes one a victim of hatred, racism or police brutality? That is absurd. What that officer did to George Floyd was not excusable. He will just judged by his peers, harshly. Rioting and looting is no damn excuse for the death and destruction of what has occurred from this by bad people. Where is your direct condemnation of it? What of the Federal Officer killed in Oakland, or the retired captain in Missouri being killed? Nothing. Quit virtue signaling because you feel guilty for making good choices. It’s hard for you to explain how you feel is because you’re not being honest with yourself. Being a good person starts from within. Believing in fairytales and fantasies of racism or hatred because one is Black is being delusional. I doubt you’ll allow this to publish, but maybe I’ll be surprised. Love your website nonetheless, and I’m inspired by the work you do for the photography community. -Gabriel, from East. L.A, CA.

    1. Gabriel, the intent of my comment was that recent events have made it clear that a lot of people have been touched by this kind of violence in more ways than I care to count, but my first experience with it was when one of my favorite camera stores got torched. I am sure there are many people in this world who would love it if a burning camera store was the only way in which systemic racism has affected them.

      That said, I really didn’t want to get into politics, as this is a camera review site, and I appreciate your support. I promise to stay on topic and stick to the things I actually have experience with! 🙂

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