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To Rent Or Not To Rent Equipment

Years ago when I first started growing my photography business, I was contacted by a potential client to shoot her medium-sized wedding. It became quickly apparent to me that this was going to be a larger gig than Id ever handled up to that point. She offered the standard initial details over the phone, such as the date, location, and party size. Before I knew it, we were setting up a time to meet in-person so we could get the ball rolling further. Hanging up the phone that day, I was pumped, to say the least.

The Challenge

However, a few minutes later the adrenaline rush came crashing to an end, and I soon realized what should have been obvious – I didn’t even have the right gear needed to pull it off. After reviewing what I would actually need and what equipment I actually had at my disposal, I began to panic. My funds were severely limited.

It took me a solid day before I even considered renting gear. And the idea only occurred to me when browsing the work of wedding photographers online and vehemently wishing I could get my sticky paws on their gear for just a day or two. And then the next thought that struck me was akin to lightning striking Edisons kite: Why can’t I? A quick search online revealed it was already a popular concept. A new world of possibilities opened up to me that day.

Chances are, a good number of you have already discovered the merits of renting equipment. Like me, youve probably discovered that in some cases, it makes sense – sweet, perfect, affordable sense.

But for those of you who have not yet considered renting equipment, I urge you to give it some thought.

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The Reality of Renting

Here are some reasons why renting can be useful.

1. It lets you try before you buy.

It just so happens that I became familiar with a good chunk of my current gear long before I actually owned it. Renting is a realistic, affordable option that gives you the opportunity to test drive the equipment of your choosing, including some of the latest and greatest gear if you so choose. Instead of dishing out thousands of dollars you could not otherwise spare to purchase something new, shell out a very small percentage of the retail cost and rent it for a few days. And if you do decide to make a purchase down the line, theres much less risk involved, because you already know what youre getting.

2. It can improve the quality of your work.

Shooting with equipment that you otherwise would not be able to get your creative hands on can really help you step up your game. Adjusting to new gear and learning the latest technology can provide inspiration that your tried and true camera cannot. It gets you out of that limiting box we sometimes place ourselves in and expands our minds to new possibilities.

In my case, it eventually got to the point where my best shots were being taken with the rented equipment, which led me to the next natural step of making a bona fide purchase, all the while confident that I was making the correct decision because I was already so familiar with the gear.

3. It expands your professional horizons.

Occasionally you may be given the opportunity to shoot a special event or gig, but you don’t have the correct camera body, lens, or lighting to do the job well. Rather than painfully turning down those great opportunities, consider renting the equipment. Including your camera rental expenses in the estimate with your client is a good way to recoup those expenses. The ability to fulfill these types of jobs can give your business and your creativity a boost. Additionally, renting keeps you from having to ship your equipment when you have destination shoots in another city, state, or country.

Final Thoughts

That intimidating wedding from years ago turned out to be a success, in large part because I went ahead and ordered much-needed additional equipment. For that particular occasion, I needed lighting, a second camera body and an assistant, which I had to find on my own, naturally. Immediately after, I noticed that I produced better work than I ever had before.

Renting camera gear can be a good idea, especially if youre on a budget but still want to explore and experiment.

Its worth mentioning that, after a certain point, renting equipment excessively can become more costly than making an outright purchase. However, when used in moderation, it can be surprisingly affordable, being only a small percentage of what the gear would actually cost. Consider doing so when you genuinely need it, and also where you can recoup your costs.

There are some great places online to rent, such as LensRentals.com, which Ive used personally, and also BorrowLenses.com. They will ship it directly to you, and after a number of days of your choosing, youre able to ship it right back. You may even be able to rent from your local shop. The hardest part of it all is actually giving the equipment back after youve fallen in love with it.

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