Posts Tagged ‘craigslist’

Beware Craigslist Scammers Hunting for Gullible Wedding Photographers

If you’re a photographer looking for a gig on Craigslist, be careful. As with virtually all the types of “help wanted” listings found on the site, requests for photography services are often used by scammers as a way of luring the naive. Scammers also regularly send out emails to photographers advertising their services.
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Craigslist Listing Calls for a Hipstamatic Wedding Photographer

Would you shoot a wedding professionally with your iPhone and Hipstamatic? If you want to stay in business, probably not. But what if you were asked to do so, and paid for your work?

If you live near West Hartford, Connecticut, this might be an actual gig you can do. There’s a couple there looking for one or two Hipstamatic photographers to document their wedding in mid-September (don’t worry, they also have a primary non-iPhone photographer).
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Why Wedding Photographers’ Prices are “Wack”

Earlier today my friend and fellow photographer posted a link to a craigslist ad from a woman in Seattle looking for a wedding photographer. The woman was upset because she thought that $3,000 for a wedding photographer was “wack” because all we do “is hang out at a wedding taking tons of photos and editing them” and that we are “making so much money its crazy.”

I first read this post earlier today while I was running errands and my head almost exploded. I immediately started drafting a horribly mean and punishing response in my head, but by the time I got home, I realized that this is probably a common misconception and that maybe I should try to explain why photographers charge what we do for our work.
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A Photographer Who Throws Herself at Men, Literally

Photographer Lilly McElroy has a unique series of photos titled I Throw Myself At Men that consists of self-portraits showing her launching herself into the arms of strangers.

For this project I went to a lot of bars and I literally threw myself at men who I didn’t know. I used my body as a projectile, hurling myself toward strong, vulnerable men who were waiting to catch me. Poised in a perpetual state of social awkwardness and in full possession of the ability to subvert stereotypical gender roles, the photographs pose questions concerning relationships, social connection, sex, gender, and the desire to form relationships quickly that are both intense and long lasting.

The project got started after McElroy placed ads on Craigslist asking for men who’d be willing to meet blind date-style in bars and have McElroy throw herself at them.
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Portraits of People Who Use Craigslist

Photographer James Loveday has a portrait project documenting the people who use Craigslist. Over a period of several months, he placed ads on Craigslist offering free portraits to anyone who stopped by his Brooklyn studio.

Each time a person or people would come, I’d have everything set up and over the course of an hour or so I’d get their portrait taken. Some people would show up ready, knowing what to wear and what they wanted, others had a vague idea of getting famous and wanted to have pictures of themselves for their future careers as actors and models and some people were just intrigued, or bored.

Everyone who participated also filled out a questionnaire about themselves and their reasons for participating. The answers are shown alongside each of the portraits.

Craigslist by James Loveday (via Beautiful/Decay)

“Photographer Looking For People to Do Their Job Without Pay”

Some Atlanta-based photographer posted a humorous Craigslist ad on Monday highlighting the fact that people often assume that photographers will be happy to do work for free.
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Why Cheap Craigslist Photogs Won’t Kill the Wedding Photography Business

Poke around on Craigslist, and you’ll find that it’s filled with ads selling professional services at dirt-cheap prices, including photographers offering to shoot weddings for just a few hundred dollars. Does this spell doom for the wedding photography business? Probably not.

Jeff Revell over at PhotoWalkPro writes,

Well yesterday [a friend] called me and I could tell he was kind of upset. I asked what was wrong and he said “Jeff, do you know what they are charging for weddings on Craigslist? How can I compete with a $300 wedding?” I told him flat out that he can’t, nor should he. It took me a few minutes to get through to him but when I did, he finally saw the light. I asked him if he thought that the people that were hiring a $300 wedding photographer would pay $2500 for the same service. Probably not. That’s means that he isn’t really competing for those customers. His customer is the one that recognizes the value of a true professional that will deliver professional results. Get that? The key word here is professional.

His point is that you shouldn’t be competing on price, but on quality. Focus on that, and you’ll be targeting a different segment of the market.

Are Cheap Craigslist Weddings Killing the Wedding Photography Business? [PhotoWalkPro]


Image credit: Wedding Photographer by Kip Praslowicz

Checklist for Buying Used Cameras and Lenses on Craigslist

Editor’s note: The checklist presented in this post is also available as a text file for you to print out and carry along for reference. This post was first published here.

Almost all of the camera equipment I have ever owned was purchased used. While this isn’t something to be proud of, I do like to think I know a thing or two about cameras and lenses. I have run into the occasional problems with lenses, but I made sure I had the option to return them if they had issues. I have also purchased a few lenses and cameras from people on Craigslist as well and as long as you know what you’re getting and tried it out when you made the purchase, you should be covered. There are a few things that I always check and I’m putting them up here in the hope that you might find some of it useful.
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5 Tips for Reselling Your Camera

If you are upgrading your camera gear, horray for you! That also means you’re probably planning to convert your old camera to cash for new gear or at least to free up room in your camera bag.

Camera bodies are probably the most difficult piece of photo equipment to sell, since new bodies and technology are released very frequently. They lack the longevity of lenses and depreciate over time.

We’ve posted a few previous tips about buying used DSLR gear and buying pro camera gear on a student budget, but now we’ll shift gears to the seller’s standpoint.

1. Think local — really local.

Selling your own camera gear can feel a little like selling an old project car.  It’s easy to become sentimentally attached, and you want to make sure it goes into good hands.

Before posting your gear advertisements anywhere, see if anyone in your immediate social circle is interested in buying. Co-workers or fellow students tend to be a good bet.  When I was working at my college paper, a lot of photo department staff would sell gear to each other, with the comforting reassurance that their equipment would be put to good use. There is also an added level of trust within colleagues, since they already know you and you’ll spend less time having to convince them that what you’re selling is in good condition.

Craigslist, when used with caution, is also a good way to find local buyers. Be wary of scams, though — a lot of falsely interested “buyers” might email you with a strange proposal. I’ve gotten a few generic emails from people interested in “the item,” offer a higher payment via PayPal, and then ask you to ship it to some remote relative in Africa. Yeah, right.

If you do find a real, local buyer on craigslist, do be careful. Propose to meet in a safe, public place during the day, and bring a friend or two along for added security. Cash is always most reliable, as well. It might be a good idea to meet near your bank, so you can safely stow your cash after you’ve made a sale.

2. Advertise the basics.

You don’t need to go into detail about small wear and tear that you notice, or anything beyond the camera’s model and maybe highlight some important technical specifications like megapixels and frames per second.

It is helpful to post a link with more detailed camera specs, either from the manufacturer’s site or dpreview.com, for the buyer’s convenience.

But the bottom line is to cut to the chase and don’t let your advert be hunkered down by unnecessary details.

Just tell them, it’s a Nikon D200. 10 megapixels. 5 fps. Excellent condition. Body specs here.

The less you tell prospective, but serious buyers, the more they might want to respond to your ad with questions. Once you begin a discussion with them, that’s your chance to answer more detailed questions they might have.

3. Don’t include more than you have to in the box.

Naturally, you’ll need to include a battery, charger, and other accessories that came with the camera body, but avoid including interchangeable accessories that you might use in the future.

Michael mentioned in his gear on a student budget post that he made the mistake of including a high-end B&W filter with a lens he sold, but later realized he still needed it.

Hang on to those memory cards and filters.

4. On the other hand, you’ll have a better chance of selling it if you bundle it with a lens.

Though this is a bit of a contradiction to the previous tip, but buyers will be much more interested in purchasing a used body if it comes with a lens.

You probably will not make as much back on the resell, but if the market is dry and people just aren’t interested, a lens can add a great deal of buyer incentive.

However, whether you need to include a lens or not really depends on what kind of camera body you are selling.

If you are selling a professional body, chances are, your buyers will be pros as well, and are likely to have their own lenses. In this case, there’s no need to include a lens.

If you are selling a lower-end DSLR, like a Nikon D40 or a Canon Rebel, prospective buyers are probably newer to photography, and will likely be looking for a bundle kit.

There’s really no need to K.I.T. with your kit lens, especially if you’re selling the body it came with. Ask yourself: are you really likely to attach that plastic 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 on your brand new D3x? Probably not.

Selling kit lenses alone is pretty pointless as well; brand new, they’re worth less than $150.

Instead, include it with the body you’ve got up for sale, and readjust your price. Be sure to check the street value of your bundle on eBay and craigslist.

5. Include your own photos of your gear on your advertisement.

If you provide photos with your advertisement, people are more likely to click on your posting. Additionally, if those photos are noticeably different from the standard manufacturer’s product shots, they can add to a feeling of authenticity and openness on the seller’s side. Also, when you post attractive product photos, the photos can imply your own skill as a photographer, and can give you more clout as a camera seller.

Conclusion

Understand the buyer’s standpoint when selling. Check out Michael’s posts on buying used DSLR gear and buying pro camera gear on a student budget.  Don’t sell yourself short, but be aware that you may need to make some concessions in order to make your gear marketable.

Finally, if you’ve got any additional tips on selling gear, feel free to share it with us!


Image credits: D70s by salimfadhley, Hoya Filter and Wine Bottle by davidgsteadman, 18-55mm kit lens by Manchester-Monkey, and My new camera by Catherinette Rings Steampunk

A Guide to Buying Used DSLR Gear

craigslistThis article is the second part of the previous article titled “Pro Camera Gear on a Student Budget“, and contains some advice for what you should do once you find a good deal and have arranged a meeting with the seller. I personally consider purchasing used gear on craigslist to be a much better route than other services (i.e. eBay), since you can check out the gear personally and walk away from the deal if anything doesn’t seem right. Here are the tips:

Know What to Look Out For

Just as you need to know a good price on a piece of gear from a bad one, you need to be able to distinguish something that looks and works like it should from something that doesn’t. I’ll be covering some specific things on what you should look for, but bring along a photographer friend if you haven’t used the kind of gear you’re buying before.

Check the Camera’s Sensor

sensorThe sensor on a DSLR is what captures the image you photograph. You don’t want to buy a camera and then later find out that the sensor is scratched or damaged in some way, since this might affect the quality of all of your photographs. Different cameras let you examine the sensor in different ways, so be sure to know how to check the sensor on the camera you’re looking at before going to the meeting. Just taking off the lens won’t expose the camera’s sensor, since it’s naturally hidden behind both the mirror and the shutter curtain. You’ll have to use the feature of the camera that locks up the mirror and opens the shutter curtain in order to see the sensor.

Ask How Many Actuations the Camera Has

Cameras are like cars, and mileage matters. Each camera has a “life expectancy” for how many actuations, or shots, the shutter system is expected to be able to handle before it fails and needs to be replaced (which is expensive). A camera is generally in pretty new condition if it has less than 10,000 actuations, and very used if it has more than 50,000 or 100,000 actuations (since many cameras are only rated for this many). Research your specific model to see how many actuations the manufacturer rated the camera for. Since for most cameras there isn’t an easy way to verify the actuation count with certainty, the figure is meant to give you an idea of how used the camera is, and how much life you might still get out of it.

How to Tell if A Camera is More Used than the Owner Claims

From personal experience, the best indicator for how much use a camera has seen is the strap attached to the camera. If the owner claims that the camera has barely been used, but the strap is worn and faded, then a warning bell in your head should go off. Gentle and minimal use won’t wear down a strap much.

strap

Other areas you can check for wear are the external flash hot shoe and the LCD screen. On certain camera models, the hot shoe has a black paint coating that slowly rubs off every time an external flash is attached or removed. If the hot shoe is used and worn, then the camera probably is too. Newer LCD screens also will appear smooth, and lack the hairline scratches that appear over time. A flawless LCD screen does not prove the camera is in new condition, but one with many small scratches indicates the opposite.

Check the Front and Back Elements of the Lens

If you’re buying a lens, take off both lens caps and hold the camera up to the light. Make sure theres no scratches or other imperfections in the glass on either side of the lens.

elements

Ask the Seller to Pose for Portraits

The benefits of this are two-fold. First, this allows you to test the sharpness of the lens. Focus on the seller’s eyes with the lens wide open, and check whether the eyes are sharp. This also gives you an opportunity to have a photograph of what the seller looks like, as an extra precaution. Honest sellers might even be more than willing to let you copy down their contact information from their drivers license, as I’ve experienced a few times.

Test for Front and Back Focusing

Make sure the seller isn’t selling the lens because it focuses incorrectly. You can do this by focus testing the lens at the meeting. If you don’t want to bring something specifically to use for testing the focus, learn to do focus testing quickly on any sheet of paper with text on it.

focusing

Tips for Meeting the Seller

Try to meet during the day, since it’s both safer, and easier to examine and test camera equipment. Sufficient light will help you to more easily test the quality and sharpness of photographs. Of course, there’s always the general craigslist tips for being a “safe buyer”. Meet sellers in person at a public location, and with another person if possible. I’ve found that meeting in a coffee shop at noon generally works very well. I’ve even managed to make the process very quick and painless, since many times sellers will agree to meet me at the coffee shop just down the block from where I live.

In Conclusion

The things I shared in this article were certain things I picked up through the past few years of doing gear transactions through craigslist. It’s definitely not a comprehensive list of what to be wary of, and you should examine all the normal functions of the equipment to ensure that they’re working flawlessly. If there are other important things that I failed to include, please leave a comment and share!