Camera shop owner got his start at CCSF

Matt Osborne, owner of Glass Key Photo, displays vintage cameras on Mar. 14, 2012 in his shop located in the back of Rooky Ricardo Records in the Lower Haight. VINCENT PALMIER / THE GUARDSMAN


The Guardsman
Oz Litvac

Former City College student Matt Osborne is the owner and genius behind Glass Key Photo, a small niche shop located in the back of Rooky Ricardos Vinyl shop on Haight Street.

The idea for the shop had been in his mind since he was a photography student at City College a few years back. He said he was, “hooked from the start because of the enthusiasm of instructors at City College. Their passion and enthusiasm is infectious.”

Eventually his dream of carving his niche in the cutthroat world of photography became a reality.

So far it has worked out just fine. He’s managed to sustain his photo business despite the brutal economic conditions.

The eccentric location of the shop sure adds character to it, but the eclectic collection of cameras, including a 1950’s James Bond-type and cameras that come from as far away as Russia, is what separates this joint from your average photo shop. In addition to random peculiar cameras from around the world, Glass Key Photo also carries darkroom supplies, photo paper, and a wide selection of root beer.

Years ago when Osborne had his first solo photography show at City College, he made root beer floats to go with the show. This was in contrast to the wine and cheese usually served at art galleries and photography shows.

Glass Key also carries rare film, different types that the big retailers don’t carry. A typical role of film may cost around $4 or $5 dollars, but the shop does not develop film.

When asked what he thinks of the current educational budget crisis, his response was, “whenever you cut education, it’s never a good thing.”

But, he added, “the instructors that are really passionate will find a way to plow through.”

As for himself he says, “I’m much happier working for myself, doing something I believe in, then working for someone else doing something I don’t care about.”

When asked if he is considering going back to school at any point he said, “If the world works out in my favor, I will always take classes.”

“I love learning things,” he added.

Osborne’s advice to current students who are contemplating a career in the competitive photography industry is, “If you love it, stick to it, it’ll work out. Don’t listen to naysayers,” said Osborne.

Rooky Ricardo's record store shares a space with Glass Key Photo at a shop in the Lower Haight, on Mar. 20, 2012 in San Francisco, CA. VINCENT PALMIER / THE GUARDSMAN

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