Why You Should Support Your Local Camera Store (The No Altruism Version)

I’m sure you’ve noticed there are far fewer camera stores and film processors around than in the past. If I were to ask you where I could go locally to get professional prints out of a digital camera, I’m sure you’d struggle to answer the question, unless you’ve had prints made from digital images recently, of course. Or maybe you’ve simply not noticed their slow march to oblivion, much like the gradual disappearance of pay-telephones. Of course, the argument for purchasing from your local camera store is usually tied to some sort of altruism, attempting to guilt-trip current and potential camera owners into buying locally to help prevent their extinction. It’s a mostly true statement and an effective argument for all but the most greedy, selfish, self-centered, narcissistic and arrogant of customers. However, even for those customers, there’s an answer that will suit even them and right now I’m going to focus on that. Besides, the world revolves around them, right?

Short and sweet, there are 3 reasons why you should support your local camera store, even if you’re a greedy, arrogant and selfish bastard: Actual products on display, instant gratification, and the added value of a local professional.

Reason number 1: You’ve already researched “best professional camera for a beginning professional photographer,” have your heart set on a Canon or Sony because all of the professionals on youtube have agreed you should own one of the 2, or both, and you deserve no less than what Annie Leibowitz would choose if she were sponsored by Sony. Once you’ve decided on the model, let’s say a Sony A7R III, you hit up Amazon and Beards & Hats’ websites to check out the specs, admire the product photos, and read only the 5-star reviews. All of that research has ensured you’ve made the right decision. Yet, you begin to hesitate because of the price; you’re a beginner, but a master beginner, and require no less than the best glass. A trip down the rabbit hole of the Sony Rumors blog and forum widens your perspective, realizing you could offset the cost of the camera by shooting weddings. They’re easy, with low demands and high returns as brides are quick to spending extra on photographers and will let you execute your artistic vision without getting in your way. Because, really, in today’s society it’s “pics or it didn’t happen.” Plus, you see how much others charge and realize they’re all just ripping people off… you can easily undercut the competition and have your gear paid off in just 3 or 4 gigs. Despite the oft-complained about “demands” of a wedding shoot, you know they’re just a bunch of privileged snowflakes and a gifted beginner like you will produce results that are unarguably awesome. Besides, if a bride gives you lip, you can just put her in her place because you’re the artist, right? Allowing yourself to daydream a bit, you imagine even cornering the market, and possibly quitting your day job because this camera is just. that. good. Now, back on track mentally, you’ve decided you need Sony’s G Master 24-70mm ƒ/2.8 to support your new venture into wedding photography. It’s the one that “focuses on people but makes the backgrounds out of focus,” so your pics look professional, and it’s awesome. Unbeknownst to you and combined with your ignorance of the metric system, this combination breaks the mirrorless mold of being “compact, easier to pack and carry than a dSLR.” It doesn’t show that in all of the pictures and youtube videos you’ve seen. Even worse, you forgot to buy a memory card and now you have to wait another 2 days to get your new wedding photography business off the ground.

So, back to reason number 1: Physical products actually on display. Instead of ordering a body, lens and bag online only to discover the bag is too small for your needs because the camera combo is much larger than you expected, you could’ve, er, should’ve gone to a local store to check them out. You get to size it up, compare it directly with the competition, and even check out accessories that will accommodate the exact model you’re buying. Yes, the sticker shock will surprise you, not to mention the sales tax that’s purposely hidden just so the salesperson can screw you for more profit at the last second in the purchasing process. Only a sucker buys from brick & mortar… you’re just showrooming, right? Just suckers selling to suckers.

Reason 2: Instant gratification. If you love the feeling of “control” shopping with an Amazon Prime subscription and having your shit appear through same day and 2-day delivery, imagine having that shit in your hands immediately after paying! No waiting for delivery or having to outsmart a porch pirate!

Reason 3. The value proposition. Sure, Amazon offers a third party extended warranty product available for extra cost. It’s convenient, offered up as you drop the product into your virtual cart. As for tuneups, cleanings, and non-warranty work, you can just drop it off at Amazon HQ in Seattle, right? Seriously though, you get a lot more behind the price tag locally if you really examine what you’re getting. If anything goes wrong, be it an accident or manufacturing defect (obviously only the latter as the former doesn’t apply to perfect people like you), you have a direct contact to take point on these incidents. Many places offer, either for free or at steep discount, first cleaning, inspection and tuneup of your new camera. Some offer an introduction course for your new camera, in a classroom environment and lead by the representative of your chosen brand, for free with purchase of a new camera body. Besides, now that you’re a Sony fanboy because it’s the best camera ever made in the history of cameras, you can rely on at least one person behind the counter who agrees with you. They’ll be happy to help you offload cash for your first ƒ/1.4 prime lens because the G Master lens you bought doesn’t make the background all blurry, all of the time.

Now, before you take your first shot, buy a subscription to Adobe Creative Cloud Photographer’s Plan that includes Lightroom and Photoshop. Why? Because you’re going to discover the first RAW file doesn’t look like you’d imagine it would and you’ll be told by the world’s professional professionals that all photos have to be fixed before they look good. Every photo you’ve ever seen has been fixed in the background before presentation, even in the days of film. Lightroom will let you fix everything, even if it’s out of focus, while Photoshop will let you fix everything else. Plus, it buys you the opportunity to complain about how Adobe sucks and are unfairly milking their customers with their subscription plans.

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