Renting your gear, is it worth it?
My parents are concerned because they don't understand how can I not have a camera at home as a photographer... It's been 4 months now, renting my gear, borrowing it, or on loan (if you will) and it's been great... really?
It all started 3 years ago when I was traveling a bit more than today. Carrying gear with me was always a problem... on planes especially I don't want to bring much with me, because of security controls at airports and all the pre-boarding process can take a lot of time when you carry your photography gear with you.
They usually open all my bags and ask me tons of questions, never had any major problems so far but the process is slow and sometimes you just don't want to go through that. Of course no checked bags, everything comes on board with me, you guys know how they handle your stuff.
So back then the solution was simple for me... I don't have to bring my camera, just maybe a lens or 2 a few extra batteries all the necessary accessories and I would just rent the rest.
Lately, I sold all my gear, except for 2 canon lenses.
And now this is how I work... with rentals!
The other advantage is the luxury of having the right tool for the job! If you need a fast camera, with high burst rates, no problem, If you need a high-resolution camera, you can have it! There is no perfect camera out there and you all know how difficult it is to choose a camera that can do it all.
Now you can have fun, test a new system, have the latest gear, and this (almost) whenever you want. You can even work with your dream camera, rent that expensive medium format you cannot afford to own for a day or two.
I have been using Canon cameras for 7 years now, so I am familiar with their system. That is why I usually rent canon gear. I had the chance to have a few cameras and lenses on loan from Canon France the past 3 years for a few specific photoshoots, and recently I've worked with cameras such as the Canon 5D Mark IV, the 1dx Mark II, and the infamous EOSR.
The 1dx Mark II in 2019 is still a phenomenal camera, and I barely use all its capabilities. You've seen me in a previous video covering a Hip Hop dance festival. All these fast movements and unpredictable dancers are not easy to catch, and the 1dx II was perfect for the job.
I used it on a couple of other photoshoots too, portraits, fitness, and dance private sessions. This wouldn't be my go-to camera for this kind of job but still is a solid performer:
Canon 1DX Mark II 24-70mm F2.8 Mark II 1/500 f3.2 ISO 640 at 24mm
Canon 1DX Mark II 24-70mm F2.8 Mark II 1/500 f3.2 ISO 200 at 61mm
Canon 1DX Mark II 24-70mm F2.8 Mark II 1/640 f3.2 ISO 320 at 24mm
Canon 1DX Mark II 70-200mm F2.8 Mark II 1/800 f2.8 ISO 640 at 59mm
Canon 1DX Mark II 70-200mm F2.8 Mark II 1/160 f2.8 ISO 160 at 80mm
Canon 1DX Mark II 70-200mm F2.8 Mark II 1/160 f2.8 ISO 100 at 140mm
Canon 1DX Mark II 70-200mm F2.8 Mark II 1/160 f2.8 ISO 100 at 110mm
Canon 1DX Mark II 70-200mm F2.8 Mark II 1/200 f2.8 ISO 100 at 90mm
The Canon EOS R has many flaws, but it can still do the job and performs very well for my dance photoshoots. And compared to the 1dxII it's a light and portable camera!
One last thing that changed my way of thinking and handling my business, thanks to this renting gear period of mine is the price. Between 70 euros to 120 for a camera body, 30 to 80 euros for a lens per day. Depending on what, where, and when, prices, of course, will change. If you can rent during the weekends, you can save a day of renting and if you often rent a lot in the same store you can find an arrangement and have an additional day free of charge once in a while.
But that's not the subject!
I have received a few messages of people asking me how to charge their clients and some of you even asked me how they wanted to charge their services and stop working for free. If you are serious about photography, and if you are good... please stop doing it for free!
Do the maths, how much does it cost you? All your gear (camera, accessories, computer), Insurance, education, your Adobe subscription, transportation, your taxes, and if you really want to do this for a living, if it's your main job, the cost of life itself (your home, food, health and so on...). How much does all this cost you in a year, month, week, every day? How long does it take you to make your images (in general) How many photoshoots can you handle from start to finish in a day? Now reach out for your calculator and see how much can you charge on a session to make all these things work and not be a starving photographer.
If you do this you will quickly realize that there is a limit on how low you can charge for your work.
And every time you rent your gear for a shoot, you think about this when you hand out your credit card!
Of course, there are a few drawbacks...
In my situation for example not having my own camera means I can't take any pictures for my own pleasure, whenever I want. No last-minute photoshoot! Things have to be planned, you can't just go to your store and rent your gear, because the camera you want may not be available. I usually secure my gear at least a week and a half before the shoot. In some cities, you are limited in your options. The most famous brands are still Canon and Nikon... Sony comes third and Panasonic sometimes can be found.
And last but not least, although I love the fact that I don't have to bring all my gear on the plane with me, you have to include in your plannings enough time to get your gear and bring it back. I've been in situations where the store wasn't in the city and sometimes a bit far from my photoshoots which adds extra costs to get there and less time for you for other things.
I want a little bit more freedom so this is the reason why I will probably invest in a new camera soon. I will still work with rentals all summer, I guess we will see in September how things evolve.
How about you, have you ever considered renting your gear? What for?