on November 26, 2022
Did goe to the Photo Markets yesterday and was greatley amused...
Lots of second-hand markets in Perth are good to go to if you adjust your mind before you set off - this applies to both the sellers and buyers. This column is about photographic subjects, but you can probably find the same sort of fun and fear with any hobby subject. There are markets for car parts, furniture, dolls, toys, and nearly anything that you can imagine. The ones that deal with perishables are generally first-buyer places - there's not a big trade in chewed food...
The Photo Markets see all sorts of vendors selling all sorts of gear - or in the case of some of us, not selling it for a long time. I have seen articles offered for sale with which I am more familiar with than with some family members - these items have been to so many markets before. The theory that there is a someone who wants every stray puppy may work in the wider world, but there are still a lot of orphan cameras, lenses, and accessories that will never know a good forever home. Or perhaps they have found their final resting place and the vendor just hasn't realised it yet.
But there is one class of table that is always intriguing - the one that offers the sale of a photographic business or studio. I don't mean one that tries to sell the business as a going proposition, but one that features the accumulated gear someone has been using to earn money with. As it happens, you wonder several things:
a. Why they are selling? If the business is a goer, why is it not going?
b. Did they make wise choices in their gear? Would you be any wiser taking it over? What are your intentions with it?
c. Who were their clientele? Are they now looking for someone else to supply work? Or did they vanish - hence the sale?
You never really get a chance to ask these questions straight out, but you can ear it for a while and listen to what the seller has to say. In the case of someone genuinely retiring from the trade, there may be a vacuum there that could be filled - though you must make up your own mind whether it would be a good idea to fill it with older gear.
I have a studio full of older gear myself, but I'm not selling it - the times I need it mean that I would just be buying or hiring it again at not profit. One day, but not this day.
However, here's another of my incautious lists about buying older studio gear:
a. First off - do you need it? Actually need it, as opposed to sort of think it might be good to have. If you have sugar diabetes don't buy a professional toffee-making machine.
b. Has it been used well or used up? Is it in any condition to keep on working, at any price? Second-hand tripods and backdrop stands are easily assessable - you just set them up and lean on 'em. You can't tell whether second-hand lights are going to be reliable.
Burn marks on the casings or the sellers are something to look for...
c. Is it such an old technology that newer ideas have supplanted it - to advantage? I used some radio triggers a long time ago that were large and clunky. Now the new ones are small and sleek. Be smart - buy new.
d. Has someone's older ideas and shooting style been supplanted? Those images are what the old gear served. If your style is newer, you may be tying yourself to someone else's workflow.
All that said, you can sometimes get a good leg up in the studio or events business with gear that you have found at the markets. I would still buy new from CE for gear that you need to depend upon - the " A " team stuff that has to perform every time. But the older goods can be a backup in the car when you go out on the road.