Brisbane Camera Hire has been looking after the rental needs of professional and amateur photographers alike for over 9 years. At Photo Genius we regularly pass customers onto them who often enquire about gear when taking part in our photography courses, so when we heard that they are moving to new premises in 2016 we though we’d catch up with BCH owner Susan to get the lowdown and also ask her a few questions. . . . .
Photo Genius : We remember hiring gear from BCH back in the early days when you were still running things from your house, how has the business changed and grown over the past few years?
BCH : Ah yes! Those were the days! BCH has occupied a few different premises over the last 9 years and we are about to relocate to our 7th location over the Christmas break. In the early days there’s a steep learning curve in building a business and you don’t always know whether it’s ultimately going to be a successful endeavor or not. Certainly it takes several years usually for a business even to turn a reasonable profit so I think it’s only natural that small business usually starts from home. The next step from running the business from home was then collocating with other complimentary businesses. I have done that now for the last 5 or so years. I’m very excited to be moving into my new shop in January which I will share with Michelle Kenna (professional commercial re-toucher, photographer and trainer). We have great plans to make it very girly and pretty.
Photo Genius : Are most of your clients professional photographers or enthusiasts?
BCH : I would honestly have to say it’s probably 50/50. The professional photographers are often hiring specialized lenses (like ultra wides or super long primes etc) which they don’t need all the time so just hire as needed. Enthusiasts are often testing out lenses to narrow down what purchases to make next or simply enjoy trying something new.
Photo Genius : What’s the most popular lens in your rental pool – and why do you think it’s so popular?
BCH : The most popular lens….. Oh I’d probably have to run a report to find that out for sure! But my gut feeling is that it’s probably either the 24-70 or 70-200mm lenses. I think these are the most popular lenses because they are just so necessary in every photographers kit really. They’re also a couple of grand each, so you’ve got to be committed to go out and purchase them. It can take awhile to save up for that sort of purchase. Next down the list are the nice fast primes like the 50mm f/1.2 or the 85mm f/1.2. My personal favourite lenses at the moment are by far the Sigma ART series. OMG – in love. That 50mm f/1.4 ART is to die for.
Photo Genius : You cater for Canon and Nikon users, do you see yourself stocking any gear from any other camera manafacturers in the near future?
BCH : Yes definitely. The next most requested cameras are the Sony’s. These will be next into the inventory. The Sony shooters are opting to utilize the Metabones adapters and still use all the L series lenses on them so it’s a good opportunity to expand the range without having to spend 10’s of thousands on a whole new range of lenses also.
Photo Genius : You’re a keen film photographer, do you get much opportunity to indulge and when you do what’s the camera and film you grab first.
BCH : Film is definitely my passion (see video below). I think the reason for that is founded in a few different places. I think the digital stuff feels a little too much like “work” for me as I deal with the gear full time in the hire business. I shoot totally differently with my film cameras. I enjoy the process of shooting film and the anticipation of having to wait to see your results. My dad gave me my first film camera – a Mamiya RB67 – a beast I can hardly hold! That one doesn’t get much use anymore but I will never sell it. I’m also very proud to say that of all my film cameras (and I might have a few), I use them all equally. My newest acquisition was for my birthday this year and that was a Hasselblad X-Pan. I’m half way through my second roll of film in that one and am awaiting to get my first roll back from developing right now!! I had lusted over that camera for a long time and it’s going to be a challenging one to shoot just because of that panoramic format, but I love a challenge. I don’t think I could possibly choose a favourite camera…. It’s like having a favourite child!!
Film wise though – I LOVE Kodak Ektar on a bright day at the beach, and black and white – definitely Fuji Acros. Jonathan Canlas introduced me to that film and it has a luminescent magic about it.
Photo Genius : You are moving into new premises in the New Year, is there anything new on the horizon we can look forward to?
BCH : Oh gosh, who knows. I’m playing it all by ear at the moment. I’m looking forward to picking up the camera and shooting again as it’s been too long. Definitely looking at getting a couple of the Sony mirrorless into the hire pool and in January we will be stocking some Profoto lighting gear so keep an eye out for that.
Photo Genius : You must have had some interesting and strange requests over the last few years – any funny stories you want to share?
BCH : Like you wouldn’t believe. I’m not even sure if I could tell the stories here though!! Oh well, what the heck. I’ve had people complain that the studio lights weren’t very bright (they’d left the bulb covers on the whole time, which were now just merely melted blobs of plastic), I’ve had a hirer take out over $10,000 worth of equipment to shoot for a “UK ad agency” but in reality he pawned all the items and is now currently in custody for fraud (see the BCH facebook page for the news story), I’ve tried to trouble shoot over the phone with a studio light that the hirer couldn’t get to fire – only to discover 20 minutes into the conversation that it wasn’t plugged in at the wall. I’ve been asked for the “Rain setting” for a forecasted wet wedding; I’ve been abused for a camera that “failed” when in fact the battery simply went flat…..
Actually – these aren’t funny stories at all! But it keeps life interesting I guess. I suppose anyone who’s hiring my gear to do anything super strange they certainly aren’t telling me about it!