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When and how to rent photography gear

When and how to rent photography gear

The fast pace of changing technology is not slowing down. Add to the mix new mirrorless systems, VR, 8K it’s starting to make more and more sense to rent camera bodies, or does it?

There’s something to be said for picking up “your” camera not something that just arrived yesterday. Knowing where each little ding and scratch came from and the story behind each one. There’s also something to be said for knowing a technician went over this new arrival before it shipped out to you. That might even be worth more than the nostalgia.

I’ve never leased a car, and similarly I lean towards buying photography equipment and getting as much as I can out of it. That’s fine when the biggest expense is buying a new DSLR body or new f/2.8 lens. Things get a lot more complicated, in the math department, when you start looking at purchasing a new RED brain. I grabbed a pen and pad and started doing the math so you don’t have to.

The current retail price for a Canon 5D Mark IV is $2,800
Rental price is $150 / 7 Days = $21/day

That breaks down to 133 days of rental to equal the cost of buying it outright. If you’d like to jump into the deep end and buy a RED Helium it will set you back $24,000 or $1,400 / 7 Days. You’ll need to shoot more than 120 days with that rig before it makes sense to buy it instead of rent it. I haven’t even gotten into all the batteries, accessories and such which ends up tilting the scale towards investing in a system and going with it for the duration.

The meat of the argument is at what point is your current camera body no longer keeping up with your client’s specs. If you’re only shooting for online or social-media you should have stopped buying new bodies a few years ago. If the majority of your clients want 8K video and billboard size photographs then you’re going to be keeping up with the latest tech coming out. Can you keep using the “old one” and maybe rent the latest and greatest to get by on a project or two? The next question is how many days are you really shooting with that camera? 50? 100? 112 ½ days? I like being able to grab a camera off the shelf and head out the door, renting requires planning and a bit of lead time. That’s fine when you’re working on a larger production and live in a place where the sun is always shining and schedules never change.

The next hurdle with buying is cash flow. There’s all sorts of ways to finance gear but sometimes renting is a less expensive and better option for your business. If you’re not pulling in steady clients or just lots of small ones it’s going to be tough to make that credit card payment and if you’re not using the equipment it’s not making you any money sitting on a shelf. Maybe that money could be better spent on marketing or some other investment in your business.

When and how to rent photography gear

There’s another option too, using that camera you have until the paint wears off and the shutter stops working. The upside to that is you’ll know the camera inside and out, can shoot in manual in the dark with one hand and you’ll realize that it’s not always about having the latest camera or the fastest lens. It’s about you and the image you’re going to create.

@HarryGuinness
Jul 20, 2018, 8:00 am EST | 4 min read

When and how to rent photography gear

Photography and videography gear is expensive. Professional equipment starts at a few hundred dollars and goes up to hundreds of thousands. You might dream of shooting with a RED EPIC camera, but you probably don’t want to pony up the $19,000+ to own one. The thing is, there’s another option: rental.

It might surprise you, but the odds are that a lot of the equipment used in your favorite movies and TV shows isn’t owned by the people or company shooting it. Instead, it’s rented from a commercial agency. Why buy a crane just for a single scene when you can rent one for a fraction of the cost? Hollywood is built on rented gear.

And it’s not just Hollywood productions that can rent stuff. You can do it too. If you really want to shoot a RED EPIC, you can rent one and all the other gear you need for $1,100 per day. Sure, that’s a hell of a lot of change, but it’s way less than the $50,000+ it would cost you to buy it all yourself. Most gear also goes out for nowhere near that price. You can get a $2,000 lens like the Canon 70-200 f/2.8 L IS II for an incredibly reasonable $84 per week.

When and how to rent photography gear

When to Rent Photo and Video Gear

Rental is a huge part of the professional industry, but you don’t need to be planning a major shoot to rent some gear. There are lots of other reasons.

  • To try something out before buying: Most local camera shops have some popular gear available to rent. If you’re considering buying something and it’s in their rental stock, you can normally arrange to rent it for a few days. If you decide to buy, then the rental fee you’ve paid gets deducted from the purchase price. It’s one of the big reasons to support local shops.
  • To see if something is for you: It’s really difficult to take good sports photos without a telephoto lens. If you think it’s a genre of photography you might enjoy, rather than dropping loads of cash on a lens you might not use, you can rent a telephoto for a sports game or two and see how you like it. I’m considering switching to mirrorless cameras, so I plan to rent a full Sony A7III setup for a week and see how it goes.
  • When you’re only going to use it a few times: I occasionally have to use studio lights to take portraits but I don’t do it anywhere near enough to spend the money on a real set up. Instead of spending $2,000, I just spend $150 once or twice a year. It also means I’m always shooting with high quality, new gear.
  • Just for fun: Let’s be honest, playing with amazing camera gear is fun. If you’ve got a few hundred dollars and you’ve always wanted to try out some ludicrously expensive bit of kit, just rent it. You’ll be able to fulfill your medium format or movie making fantasies without taking out a mortgage.

Where to Rent Gear

The simplest place to rent gear is from local camera shops. They normally have a supply of popular, versatile gear like 24-70mm and 70-200mm lenses, studio lights, and full frame DSLR bodies. You can also check out the condition of it and the staff will teach you how to use it. The only downside is that if you’re looking for something obscure, they might not have it.

If you want a wider selection, your best bet is Lensrentals. They’re the biggest online photo rental store and their gear selection is essentially limitless. They almost certainly have whatever bit of obscure photography or videography gear you want. The prices are good and they ship to all 50 States. You can even buy any rental gear you don’t want to send back.

When and how to rent photography gear

Your final option is to look at a peer-to-peer rental service. It’s one of the few “Airbnb for X” ideas that actually makes sense. People who have camera gear they’re not currently using can list it for other people to rent. It lets them offset some of the cost of their equipment and lets you rent it for less. The two biggest services are KitSplit and ShareGrid. There might not be someone nearby with what you need, but if there is, it’s probably the cheapest option.

When and how to rent photography gear

Tips for Renting Photo and Video Gear

Insure, insure, insure. Seriously, you do not want to be on the hook for tens of thousands of dollars worth of gear because your careless friend tripped on the tripod. Cameras and lenses are just too fragile and too expensive for you not to take out some kind of protection. If you’re a professional photographer, your insurance policy may cover it. If not, your options depend on where you’re renting from. Ask your local shop what they offer. Lensrentals sells their own insurance (it even covers bear attacks). KitSplit and ShareGrid can provide insurance for a fee, as well.

When and how to rent photography gear

Inspect the gear before you rent it or as soon as it arrives. Rental gear is by its very definition used, so there’s a good chance there are some scuffs and scratches. It won’t affect the quality of your work but you don’t want to be blamed for a scratch that was there before you got it. I find the best thing to do is to take a quick video of the gear and talk through any issues I see; that way I can use the video if there’s ever any issue.

When and how to rent photography gear

Make sure you rent the accessories too. Most of the time you can rent a kit with all the cables, chargers, modifiers, and the like, but if you’re going á la carte, be careful to get everything you need. There’s no point renting studio flashes if you don’t get a wireless flash trigger too.

Renting gear for an occasional shoot is a great way to break into different areas of photography. Unless you’re shooting sports week in and week out, there’s no point owning a telephoto lens. If you just need the stuff every few months, renting is the way to go.

When and how to rent photography gear

Lensrentals published its annual top rented photo and video equipment statistics. In 2020, the numbers got affected by the Coronavirus pandemic and lockdowns, but certain trends are still visible. Dominated by Canon and Sony, the photo/video gear rental market still favors the Canon EF Mount, Cinema cameras, and shows a shift from DSLRs to mirrorless.

Founded in 2006, Lensrentals is – in their own words – the largest online rental provider for photography, videography, lighting equipment and accessories in the United States. The company’s headquarters is located in Memphis, Tennessee (with a satellite office in Nashville), but they ship rented gear all over the USA.

Since 2016, Lensrentals publish a yearly blog post with a summary of the top rented photo and video products of the year. This is interesting as it shows certain trends in the photo/video rental industry. Let’s take a look at the latest article with the top rented gear of 2020.

Top rented gear of 2020 on Lensrentals

As Lensrentals states, the 2020’s numbers are affected by the Coronavirus pandemic and the lockdowns that came with it. Most of the events were canceled and that had a huge impact on the events photo/video segment, but Lensrentals still rented out a large amount of gear. First, let’s take a look at the list of most rented products in 2020:

  1. Canon 24-70mm f/2.8L II
  2. Canon 5D Mark IV
  3. Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II
  4. Sony Alpha a7 III
  5. Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L IS III
  6. Canon 35mm f/1.4L II
  7. Canon EOS R
  8. Canon 50mm f/1.2L
  9. Sony 70-200mm f/2.8 GM OSS
  10. Sony FE 24-70mm f/2.8 GM
  11. Canon 16-35mm f/2.8L III
  12. Canon 100mm f/2.8L IS Macro
  13. Sony NP-FZ100 Battery
  14. DJI Ronin-S 3-Axis Gimbal
  15. Canon 6D Mark II
  16. Nikon D750
  17. Canon LP-E6N Battery
  18. Canon EF-EOS R Mount Adapter
  19. Canon 85mm f/1.2L II
  20. Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 DC HSM Art for Canon

Interestingly, the top spot for a camera goes to the 5D Mark IV DSLR, which shows that it is still a popular photography workhorse. It is also interesting to see the DJI Ronin-S gimbal in the top 20 list among all the lenses and camera bodies. The dominance of Canon EF L zoom lenses is less surprising.

Lenses

Lensrentals published more tables with interesting data. When it comes to lenses, the most popular mount is still the Canon EF Mount followed by Sony E in the photo segment and by PL Mount in the video lenses segment. The Canon RF Mount gained a remarkable market share and is the second most popular mirrorless mount in the photo segment.

When and how to rent photography gearMost Rented Lenses of 2020 by Mount. Source: Lensrentals.com

Looking at lens brands, the companies that improved the market share the most are SIGMA and Venus Optics (Laowa) in the photo segment and Canon and Fujinon in the video lens segment. Canon is the overall leader in all aspects when it comes to lenses.

When and how to rent photography gearMost Rented Lenses of 2020 by Brand. Source: Lensrentals.com

Camera types

The market share of different types of rented cameras shows that cinema cameras are still the most popular category. Interestingly, mirrorless cameras were still less popular in 2019 on Lensrentals than DSLRs. In 2020, the places switched as mirrorless cameras have more market share than DSLRs. The fact that DSLRs still have almost 20% in 2020 is almost only thanks to the photographers in my opinion.

When and how to rent photography gearMost Rented Camera Types of 2020. Source: Lensrentals.com

Brands

Finally, the last table shows brands market share of all rented products in 2020. It is not surprising, that the list is being lead by Canon with Sony in the second place. Interestingly, Blackmagic Design gained the most market share when compared with 2019.

When and how to rent photography gearMost Rented Brands of 2020. Source: Lensrentals.com

Do you rent your own gear? What do you think about the trends published by Lensrentals? Let us know in the comments underneath the article.

There are several instances where renting gear should be a no-brainer , and yet many photographers are reluctant to do so. Perhaps it’s because they think that buying a Canon 5D Mark III will help them shoot better and win more business. But the reality is that gear is rarely what makes a photographer successful. It’s more about being prepared – and renting often plays a role in your preparation for a shoot.

To learn more about reasons to rent, we turned to the experts at LensProToGo. True, the folks at LensProToGo make their business from renting gear. But they’re all professional shooters, too, and would rather steer you in the right direction than sell you something you don’t need.

Check out the video recording of our live webinar with Brian Tetrault, photographer and staff at LensProToGo. He discusses how to know when to rent vs. buy photo gear.

As a sneak peak, here are the 6 reasons – outlined in the above video – to consider renting:

  • You’re just starting out and want to step up from the kit lenses
  • If you have a really important shoot and you need backup gear
  • Your gear is broken, out for repair, and you have shoots while it’s gone
  • You don’t want to invest in a very expensive piece of gear
  • You need some extra lighting
  • You want to expand your horizons – for example, experiment with video gear
  • You want your second shooter to have better gear
  • Try before you buy!

Brian also shared a really useful table that includes some of the most popular rental gear, and how many times you would need to rent it before you reached its 2-year depreciation value.

When and how to rent photography gear

*Based on retail pricing from B&H Photo Video in NYC, no tax

On top of that, LensProToGo is offering a special discount! Use the promo code RENTVSBUY at checkout and receive 10% off of any size order. Offer expires August 30, 2013.

We’ll take care of insurance, vetting, and contracts.

KitSplit is used by:

When and how to rent photography gear

“KitSplit makes being an independent gear owner an economically viable solution to the constant turn of new technology”

—Kenny Suleimanagich, Producer at Kenmare Pictures

  • 100% Vetted & Insured Community
  • Zero Paperwork & Instant Secure Payments
  • Customer Service 7 Days a Week

When and how to rent photography gear

A Safe, Trust-Based Community Unlike Any Other

  • Fully Vetted: Every member of KitSplit is screened through our proprietary 40-point risk assessment each time they request to rent gear.
  • Always Improving: Our machine-learning risk system ensures we maintain the highest quality community.
  • Easy, Affordable Insurance: Purchase insurance instantly at checkout or use your own policy.
  • Smart Humans: Our super-knowledgeable team of rental agents can answer questions and solve problems 7 days a week.

When and how to rent photography gear

“I love that KitSplit is building community and providing a safe & secure rental market for gear.”

—Mike Donaghey, Co-Founder & Executive Producer of Scratch Empire

Featured In:

How to Start Earning Thousands of Extra Dollars a Month

1. List Your Gear

Listing gear for rent is free and easy on KitSplit. Our price suggestion tool helps you stay competitive. Have a lot of gear? Send us your list, and our Rental Agents will list it for you!

2. Let Renters Come to You

We promote you and your gear to our huge community of tens of thousands of vetted, insured professionals. We pre-screen members, and you always decide who rents your gear. And our customer service is here for you 7 days a week.

3. Rest Easy & Get Paid

On KitSplit you get paid instantly. Forget paperwork, invoices, and bounced checks. The renter is charged as soon as you accept the rental, and the money is deposited directly into your account 24 hours after the rental starts.

When and how to rent photography gear

When and how to rent photography gear

When and how to rent photography gear

When and how to rent photography gear

When and how to rent photography gear

When and how to rent photography gear

Have a lot of gear? Let us help list it!

KitSplit Customer Service and rental agents are available 7 days a week via phone, chat, or email to answer your questions and help make the process seamless. If you’re short on time, they can list gear for free.

(917) 722-6792
Our free Concierge Service is available:
10am – 7pm EST Monday–Friday

FOR FIRST TIME CUSTOMERS WISHING TO RENT EQUIPMENT OR STUDIO SPACE IN CHICAGO, IT’S IS AS EASY AS A-B-C.

A. Rental Account Agreement

B. Certificate of Insurance

C. Studio Rental Contract

A. Rental Account Agreement

Step A: Rental Account Agreement

Right (or control) Click on page to download the Rental Account Agreement in PDF form. When the document is opened in Adobe Reader, be sure to enable the Typewriter Tool (in the tool bar above the pdf document) to fill in the appropriate spaces and email directly to ProGear.

Please note: For first time renters, the rental charge will be collected at pick-up to establish credit card validity. For subsequent rentals the charge will be collected upon return.

B. Certificate of Insurance

Step B: Certificate of Insurance (COI)

Insurance protects us all and ProGear requires our customers to have a Certificate of Insurance (COI) on file. Please be aware that there are many types of insurance and as such, a general Certificate of Liability may NOT protect you against damage, loss, or theft of rental photo equipment. More often than not insurance companies require a special provision, or “rider” to be placed on your existing policy to name specific articles to be insured.

All policies submitted to ProGear are required to include at least the following:
1). Name ProGear, LLC the additionally insured or loss payee
2). Specifically state that the policy is for rented photo equipment (or equivalent verbiage)
3). Policy value is equal to, or greater than, the replacement value of the rented equipment.

Please feel free to download a sample policy to help explain the requirements. The text on the sample form in red, hi-lites the important information required on a policy.

As always, discuss with your insurance agency or agent, exactly what is covered and for what amount in your policy.

C. Studio Rental Contract

Step C: Studio Rental Contract (if renting the Studio)

If you wish to rent either Studio A or Studio B please download our Studio Rental Contract. The form allows you to use the Typewriter Tool in Adobe Reader to fill in the appropriate spaces and email directly to ProGear.

By submitting the form and receiving confirmation from ProGear, it will serve as a guarantee of your reservation and also explain the requirements and guidelines of ProGear’s rental studios. We want your experience to be as successful and safe as can possibly be for you and your clients.

When and how to rent photography gear

If you buy something through our links, we may earn money from our affiliate partners. Learn more.

Looking to start a photography business? With so many outlets available for photographers these days, there won’t be a shortage of platforms where you can sell your images. First however, there’s some equipment you need to start a photography business.

Starting a photography business requires a wide set of skills and talent to make it work. If you are a photographer it means acquiring the skills for the operational side of the business and vice versa if you’re not a photographer.

Starting a Photography Business

It is important to note this is not a tutorial on how to start a photography business, instead it focuses on the equipment you need to start a photography business. But some of the tools also include the license, insurance, financial software and more required for establishing and running your photography business.

There are plenty of potential photography niches out there for small business owner. But no matter what you plan to actually photograph, there’s some essential equipment you need to start a photography business. Here a list to get your started.

Equipment You Need to Start a Photography Business

A Good Camera

The first piece of equipment you need to start a photography business is a good camera. There are plenty of options out there to consider. Some work better in certain situations than others, so you’ll want to do a lot of research on what models will work best for your particular niche.

Tripod

A tripod is also an essential piece of equipment, since it can help you keep your camera steady and allow you to take many pictures of each subject without moving the camera around.

Camera Bag

When you’re transporting your camera from place to place, you need to make sure it’s protected. So invest in a good camera bag that you can use to keep your camera from getting broken or damaged.

Lighting

Lighting is an essential element of any good photograph. And while natural lighting is usually preferred, you’ll also likely want to invest in some studio lighting for when there isn’t sufficient sunlight.

Lenses

There are plenty of different lenses you can use to get different types of images on your camera. So it can be a good idea to invest in some different lenses to improve the quality of your photos.

Backdrops

Depending on what types of photos you plan on taking, you might find it necessary to purchase or create some backdrops that you can use for studio or portrait photographs.

Props

It can also be a good idea to have a variety of different props on hand. The types of props you choose can depend on your niche. For example, if you’re a wedding photographer, you probably won’t want the same props that a pet photographer uses. But having a few different options can be a good idea.

Studio Space

You might also find it necessary to rent or purchase some studio space for your photography business, especially if you plan on having clients travel to you for photos.

Reliable Transportation

Alternatively, you might be more interested in starting a photography business where you travel to clients. In that case, you’ll need some reliable transportation in order to get to and from your shoots.

Smartphone with a Good Camera

While you aren’t likely to use a smartphone or mobile device as your main camera for your photography business, it can still be a good tool. Since social media can be a great tool for sharing photos and behind the scenes shots, it can be useful to have a smartphone that can take decent photos for those purposes.

Editing Software

Once you’ve taken your photos, you’ll also need a software program that lets you edit and fine-tune those images. Programs like Photoshop and Lightroom can be good investments for photographers.

Computer

That also means that you need a computer you can use to actually edit and store those digital photos.

Mobile Photography Apps

In addition, when you take photos on your mobile device, it can be helpful to download some photography apps that you can use to improve your mobile photos.

Social Media Channels

You should also sign up for some social media accounts on platforms like Facebook and Instagram so that you can share your photos and updates with potential customers.

Domain Name

A professional website can also be a helpful tool for a photography business. So purchase a domain name that fits with your business and branding.

Online Portfolio

It can also be beneficial to showcase your photography work on your website or in other locations online. So you’ll need to work to build up a portfolio of images over time.

Business Cards

When you go to jobs or interact with clients, business cards can be a great way to showcase your brand and give potential clients an easy way to get in touch.

Accounting Program

You’ll also need a way to manage and keep track of your finances. So you can invest in a professional accountant or accounting program.

Payment Platform

And you also need a way to collect payments from clients. So you can set up a payment system online or have a mobile payment platform to offer clients.

External Hard Drive

Digital photos can take up a lot of space on your computer. So it can be a good idea to invest in an external hard drive you can use to store all of those large files when not in use.

Business License

It may also be necessary to register your business with your local or state government. Look into any business licenses that might be required for photography businesses in your area.

Insurance

In addition, you might consider purchasing some business insurance or a policy that protects your equipment in case it gets lost or damaged.

Client Contracts

When you get new clients, you’ll likely want to get them to sign a contract so both sides understand what is expected. You can create or find contract templates to use with each new client.

PPA Membership

The Professional Photographers of America is a group that provides resources to professional photographers like contract samples and industry data. You can pay to join in order to take advantage of those resources.

Photo Printer

When printing out proofs or marketing materials, you’ll want to make sure that your photos are high quality. So invest in a good photo printer that will make your images really stand out.

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We have all heard the expression “The gear does not make the photo. The photographer makes the photo.” That being said, the gear does certainly help in perfecting the art of photography.

If you are a professional photographer or even a serious amateur, you know that photography is quite an expensive profession/hobby. Good equipment can be expensive and by the time you build your day-to-day gear bag, it can set you back several thousands of dollars. Just when you think you have the perfect setup, you hear about the latest camera or a faster lens than what you have just being released for pre-order. Gear lust is very real among photographers!

When and how to rent photography gear

By kenichi nobusue

This is where renting gear or even borrowing becomes a viable option for many professional as well as serious amateurs.

Benefits of renting photo gear

There are several advantages to renting photographic equipment.

    The cost of renting is typically much lower than cost of buying the gear. This becomes more relevant if it is not something you are going to use too often (like a mega telephoto lens, fish-eye, or tilt-shift lens).

When and how to rent photography gear

Renting – online versus local stores

When and how to rent photography gear

By Richard Fisher

There are many different options for renting photographic gear. You can do so from local stores in your area or online vendors. In the US, big camera chain stores like CalumetPhotographic and AdoramaRentals sell as well as rent photo gear. CalumetPhoto, one of the local camera retailers in my area, also has local stores where you can go to pick up and drop off rental equipment. They tend to have a wide variety of equipment but definitely recommend reserving gear, especially if you want it for a specific event like weddings, to ensure you get what you want.

There are online stores like Borrowlens and Lensprotogo that also offer a wide variety of lens, cameras and other equipment for rent. You order online and have the gear shipped to your home or location of your choice. Once you are done, you ship it back to them. There is definitely more flexibility in renting gear online but there is the added cost of shipping and insurance, as well as a slight risk that the gear might not arrive in time (any unforeseen circumstances like extreme weather).

Benefits of borrowing photo gear

When and how to rent photography gear

Sometimes you get lucky and have other photographer friends who let you borrow their equipment for a photoshoot, or just to test out – definitely one of the more cost effective ways of trying out photographic gear. However, for those of us who don’t have such awesome friends, there is another method of renting temporary gear that is starting to become popular.

Online companies like CameraLends provide access to a lending community where you can rent cameras directly from local photographers and film makers. On the CameraLends website, they offer a peer-to-peer lending community for photographers and videographers. Owners post unused gear to rent out to other photographers and you can rent gear directly from local photographers, faster and cheaper than traditional means. But this service is somewhat dependent on the market you are in. Not every market will have every piece of equipment available for rent.

When and how to rent photography gear

Regardless of what method you choose to borrow or rent camera equipment, definitely try out gear before you make the investment to purchase it. The last thing you want to happen is buying equipment you think you want or need, only to find that it is really not benefiting your particular style of photography.

I don’t think there’s any such thing as renting a photographer, but I wondered what that would look like. Stick with me here….

Let’s say you wanted family photos or a business headshot but you didn’t want to pay the expense of hiring a photographer. What would happen if you rented the equipment yourself then hired the photographer for the hour you needed him/her?

In this scenario, you are looking for the most basic equipment because the rented photographer should be able to produce great images with the smallest set-up, right? You head over to George’s Camera and tell the rental counter you want to rent a basic portrait set-up for one day. Here’s what is recommended: one camera body, one lens, one light with a light modifier and a light stand.

  • Canon 5D Mark IV Camera Body $150 per day (plus $3,000 deposit)
  • 24-70mm f/2.8 L II Zoom Lens $45 per day (plus $2,100 deposit)
  • 600 EX-RT III FLASH $20 per day (plus $500 deposit)
  • 2 Pocket Wizards, 1 lightstand, 1 light modifier and 1 light meter $50 (plus $800 deposit)
  • Memory card

Cumulative Sub-Total = $265 plus $6,400 deposit

Now you need to rent a photographer. According to Pixpa.com, professional photographers charge $75 – $250 per hour (unless you’re hiring a Top Photographer in which case you’d pay between $250 – $500 per hour). You’re asking the photographer to drive out to the session, use his/her professional knowledge of the equipment (you sure don’t know how to use it), how to pose you and how to compose the images. Let’s agree to pay the photographer a modest $150 for this service.

Cumulative Sub-Total = $415

You travel home that evening and somewhere between dinner and bed, you unload your car (taking no risks at that $6,400 equipment deposit) and upload the images to your computer. Then you realize you need software to import and process the images. After a bit of research, you decide on Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop. You sign up for a subscription ($9.99 per month for a year = $119.88 ) and import your images into Lightroom. It is now after midnight and you realize you’ll need to figure out how to use Lightroom and Photoshop. Tomorrow.

The next day, you drive back to the store to return the rental equipment and after you return home, you spend a couple hours trying to learn how to use Lightroom and Photoshop (something most professional photographers have spent years learning). You get sucked into the photo editing vortex and spend 3 days editing your favorite images (common timeframe for entry level photographers). You are beginning to understand what photographers do all day… (see What Do You Do All Day? blog post)

Final Total: $534.88 plus 30 hours of your time.

Hold up. Do you need a 5D Mark IV and do you need an annual subscription to Adobe? Well, sure, you could use a crop sensor camera with a reduction in image quality and technically you could sign up for a 7 day free trail with Photoshop and then cancel it (but whatever you did in those 7 days would be all the processing and editing you’d be able to do on those images). What would that save you? Your new total would be $385 plus 30 hours of your time, plus another hour on the phone with Adobe to cancel your free trial!

Wait! What if Rent-a-Photographer took photos for you on your cellphone? Assuming you don’t have any scratches on your cellphone lenses and you have the space to capture large image files, sure, why not? You would not be able to properly light the image with external lighting so you’d have extra work in Lightroom and Photoshop to make the images look decent. Now your only actual expense is the Rent-a-Photographer @ $150 and still… 30 hours of your time.

Question is: would you rather rent a photographer or hire a professional?