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I'm from the foothills of the North Georgia mountains. I was a woodworker for about 12 years. Well, up until I had the rug pulled out from under my feet, and I was laid off. I got back into photography in 2008 and decided to give that a try professionally, but haven't made any money so far because rednecks, white trash, and hicks are cheap. So, I'm working in a local grocery store where some days I hear and see the craziest stuff. I tend to complain a lot about things, but I'm too poor to afford a good therapist. So, I decided to make a blog and complain online to all of you instead. But I digress. I really just wanted to do the blog to share ideas and stories with the interwebz. =D
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Thursday, April 7, 2011

Dude, McDonalds Doesn't Borrow From Burger King...

 Borrowing a cup of sugar, a shovel, even my lawnmower is one thing... Borrowing my camera is another.

Lately there's been a rash of folks asking to borrow photography gear from me. Now before I go off sounding like an a$$hole, let me be upfront - I will loan out gear to friends in need. Heck, I've borrowed a few items from other photographers myself. But here lately, it's been getting out of hand. Add in the fact that money is really, REALLY  tight in my house right now, and you've got me feeling a little on the stingy side. So, I'm sorry if I come across as a douche when you ask to borrow a list of my expensive camera equipment that I barely had the money to buy in the first place, and I tell you "no."

Here's the way I look at it - If you're borrowing it, you're likely in one or more of the following categories:

  • You only need it temporarily and it's really not something you consider to be worth investing in yourself. I could see this being okay if it were some sort of specialty item like a macro lens, or a spot grid, or really long telephoto lens. The trick here is to invite me to the shoot to hang out -just in case anything goes wrong.
  • You can't afford it, so you want to borrow it instead. Honestly, in this case you should probably rent from a rental place instead - with insurance included on your rental. I mean, if you can't pay to get one or rent one, then maybe you shouldn't be asking to borrow something you can't afford. Accidents happen, you know... You're only screwing us both if you break something that neither of us can afford to replace.
  • You're thinking of getting your own, but you want to try it out first. I don't mind allowing you to shoot with my $2000, 70-200mm f/2.8 lens if you're out with me, but there's no way in hell I'm going to let you take it home with you for a few days.
  • You need it as a backup, or as a second device. This is one instance where I'll be willing to loan with little hassle. If you already own a Vagabond II or an Alien Bee, but you need a second - Or you're worried that you might need it in case yours fails on you - Then I'm usually okay with it. My general policy is that if you break mine, I'm holding yours until you either get me a new one, or pay to have it fixed.

Another problem I see happening is that people are being hired - and taking jobs - that aren't really what they do as photographers. If you're a landscape/fine art photographer, then why would you take a job that requires you to use lighting and strobes for product photography or portraits when you have never really done such sort of work - and you don't even own the equipment to do the job in the first place? And even if you do take the job, consider it a business investment if you just go ahead and buy whatever gear you're going to need. You should be factoring the cost of gear into your pricing and let your clients pay for it over time - even if you're just renting. You should sit down with your clients and be clear on what they are asking for - in specifics. If not, they should at least be clear on what you do and don't do as a photographer.  Once you've done that, you should always factor in any purchases or rental fees well in advance. That doesn't just apply to photography - That's a general rule of any business.

If the job is out of line with what you're truly capable of doing, and renting or buying isn't in your budget, then perhaps you should just refer the client to someone who is better suited for the job. Personally, I pass up weddings all the time. I'm not a wedding photographer, and I'm not going to constantly take weddings, and then go ask my friends if I can borrow second bodies and big prime lenses that I can't afford. However, if by chance I do wind up taking an occasional wedding,  I'm well aware that if I borrow a second body or a big lens, that I would have to put my own camera and lenses on the block as collateral.

This isn't to say that I won't lend out stuff, but there's just some people that aren't going to get a hold of my stuff without me standing over their shoulders watching. Nor am I loaning out half my gear to anyone that can't come up with collateral. Forget that - I'm not loaning out half my gear - period. If you need that much gear at one time, you need to rent.

 - Added after some people took offense later this afternoon: You can't possibly expect me to loan out almost $3000 (Say it slowly so it sinks in - T H R E E  T H O U S A N D  D O L L A R S) worth of photography equipment over a couple of text messages, can you? Especially when you don't say when you or what you'd like to use it for, OR when you'll be returning it. Oh, and if you think I'm going to drive to you to deliver it and pick it up, you've definitely lost your mind. 

 This isn't an attack on anyone's abilities as a photographer, either. My point about the latter part is this: Don't get in over your head and expect A N Y O N E to bail you out.



fotografia said...

you gotta D3 or something bigger than that I can borrow? Totally kidding, your blog is awesome.

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