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Should Professional Photographers Crowdsource New Camera Gear?

An Orlando-based wedding photographer recently made the unusual move of setting up a GoFundMe account to crowdsource his latest purchase, a Nikon D4s, which retails for around $ 6,500. He got the idea from a client who suggested that crowdsourcing might be an easier way to finance the gear, rather than taking on an four extra weddings. But photographers across the Internet weren’t so kind to the idea, and a huge controversy erupted in a matter of days.

Here’s an interview the photographer did with Jared Polin, wherein he explains his actions:

Steven Yanni, the photographer under fire, said he saw no reason why he shouldn’t offer the public a chance to pay for his gear. In fact, he says, nobody but other photographers–few of whom even work or live in Orlando–gave him a hard time.

“I haven’t seen a downside, other than from photographers. Which I don’t really understand… It’s like Target commenting on how they don’t like Wal-Mart doing business.”- Steven Yanni

The interview is fairly tame, especially because Polin hardly plays devil’s advocate. He does repeatedly point out that Yanni’s problem is almost certainly in his wording, which comes across as presumptuous, lazy, and perhaps a tad arrogant–if he’d reworded the project, the mess may have been avoided.

Here’s the full copy of Yanni’s text, copied from his now-offline GoFundMe page:

“Buying a new camera is an expense that Pro-Photographers have to take on to keep up. (No they don’t take any better pictures, but when you take 100,000 images a year they do wear out)

Help us get the latest and greatest and to maintain our edge in the Orlando Market.

We are not asking for a handout, the products listed all have value – (Save maybe our ‘Gratefulness’).”

Below he offered several packages: $ 5,600 gets donors a wedding photo package that pays for itself; $ 3,800 gets his old Nikon D3s and extra battery; $ 350 gets a one-hour shoot; $ 100 gets a printed headshot and 10 extra pictures; $ 50 gets a workshop.

The deals are not totally unfair, and the idea actually seems reasonable in that light. Photographers would do well to consider a similar method of selling their skills for one-time gear upgrades, and Polin makes a strong point that Yanni may well have succeeded if he’d hired a proper marketer or copywriter to manage the campaign. Once again, we witness the unforgiving beast that is the world wide web.

“It’s the perception. It all comes down to wording online.” – Jared Polin

[via PictureCorrect Photography Tips]

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