Gimmee One'a Dem - Part One - The Maaaaaate in the Business

on February 05, 2017

I like to think that the people who read this weblog column are astute professionals and keen amateurs. Enthusiasts in art and science - renaissance men and women who can turn their minds and hands to any task. Experts, in short.

Unfortunately, the readers will also be seen as experts by some of their friends who are not as well versed in photography. They may be seen as a resource to be exploited when it comes time to choose a camera. Sort of a walking CHOICE magazine. Someone who can do the hard yards of thinking and make sure that their mate gets something fabulously good for hardly any money at all.


It's not as much fun as you might think. You may indeed be an iconic international superstar ambassador with a string of awards stapled to your CV, but if you put your mate onto a piece of equipment that becomes a disappointment, your name moves from Mentor to Mud. Here's a series this week that will help you maintain your standing in the studio and the saloon bar.

Firstly, be realistic. Is the mate asking you for good advice or bad advice? That's not as enigmatic as you might think. Some people want you to tell them what to buy because they want to use the goods. Some want advice because they just want to spend money - and will never make pictures. Some just ask to trap you into an argument. You can succeed with the first, and have a good time. The latter two classes of mate will just cause grief.

Secondly, be realistic again - but this time assess whether your mate has the intelligence to succeed with a digital camera. Be as cynical as you please, but keep the answer to yourself. If you send someone out to operate the NIMITZ and they are really only suited to a ten-foot tinnie and a pair of oars, no-one is going to be happy. It's true to say that you never can tell - some people have blossomed into technical geniuses when confronted with the control panel of a modern DSLR, but it is always good to leave a chance open to an automatic escape. Remember that Kodak got rich with the Instamatic camera and poor with the digital...

Thirdly, be fair. You are not the press agent for the camera shop ( I am! ). You are not the shop's management nor the accountant. You are not authorised to offer your mate a great deal on something the shop sells unless you actually own the place...and it is unfair on your part to drag someone in through the front door on the inference that you have the power to compel the owner to discount goods. When it comes to money you cannot be a mate in more than one direction at a time.

You might have wondered about the first part of the title - well, for the purposes of the next few articles, we are going to imagine that your mate is one of the people with little experience of photography...but that they have a need for a " good camera " and enough money to purchase it. We are going to further assume that they have a family, hobby interests, and are going to travel. And that they want you to recommend a surefire winner of a camera kit for them so that they can go to the holiday island/city/mountain top/fiord and bring back winner shots.

We're not going to assume that they read instruction books or internet sites before they buy or use the camera. I mean, why would they? They've got you...