View Full Version : Financing Stuff: The Survey

MIke Sherck
8-Jun-2005, 07:03
There's been a lot of discussion recently regarding new purchases -- new cameras, new lenses, new "stuff" in general. Some of the "stuff" has been older auction purchases, some has been new from dealers, some (probably) not too expensive, some (possibly) quite costly. I've been watching all this and am burning with curiosity (considered becoming an economist at one point: forgive me!!)

How do most of you, particularly those who are not professional photographers (in the old sense of professional, as one who earns an income from it,) finance your purchases? Cash or credit? For purposes of this survey, those of you who use a credit card and pay the bill in full when it arrives can claim to be paying cash.

I'm not a professional photographer, and I pay cash for my "stuff", which isn't a very extensive lineup. In terms of item count, about half what I buy comes from auction, the other half from dealers such as Jim at Midwest. In terms of dollars, it's about 75% dealers and 25% auction, because if I'm going to buy something expensive (like my Wisner Technical Field,) I feel more comfortable with a known entity, such as Jim.

Jim Rhoades
8-Jun-2005, 07:14
Cash, but credit is OK if you have to. Remember leaving money to your kids will do you no good at all. Let them work for it. It will make them a better, stronger person.

Dan Harbour
8-Jun-2005, 07:30
If you don't use it, eBay it. If you can't afford it, use a cheaper camera.

Ed Weston used crappy gear and did OK by it. You probably could too.

8-Jun-2005, 07:40
What Dan said. Try to get by with less stuff.

When that fails,

1) ebay something else to pay for the new thing

2) try to sell a print

3) crrrrrrredit!

4) as an absolute last resort, look for more work.

5) larceny is another option, if you're crafty. file this under "involuntary grants for the arts."

Edward (Halifax,NS)
8-Jun-2005, 07:42
If over $200 => credit
If under $200 => cash

Credit is usually paid off in 2-3 months.

Jim Galli
8-Jun-2005, 07:50
The rule at my house is the hobby has to pay it's own way. No funding from our normal income with one possible exception. If I drive someplace just for photos the gasoline gets paid for with the regular gas bill. So I used to spend a lot of time hustling photos to Nevada Magazine for $30 each etc. until I discovered Feebay. I've got the horse trader gene so I buy high and sell low, but I make it up in volume. It's actually a lot of work and eats up a lot of time but the bottom line is I've built the LF system that I will use the rest of my life. The plan is to taper off and not spend so much time editing photos and messing around with auctions. The Linhof I'm selling this week came with 2 lenses I wanted to keep. So whatever the difference is between what my re-sale fetches and what I paid for the complete outfit with the lenses is the cost for the 2 lenses. 250 Imagon and a 210 Heliar. I won't get them for free but I will (I hope) get them for less than if I just bought them individually.

Calamity Jane
8-Jun-2005, 07:52
" larceny .... involuntary grants for the arts." BAW HAW HA HA! I LOVE IT!

I guess I'd be "a semi Pro" now since I'm selling tintypes and buying my supplies with "tax exempt money" - not a very good "semi Pro" since I sure wont show a profit this year!

Major purchases have all been thru e-bay, which ends up on my credit card. Minor purchases at the local pro shop and online go directly to the credit card.

I try to ensure that there's enough cash (from my day job) at the end of the month to pay off the credit card. Any balance gets paid from my credit line (which is MUCH better interest rate). Since purchases go in fits and spurts, the whole objective is to reach the end of the year with $0.00 on the credit card and less money owing on the line of credit than the year before. So far I am batting 500 :o

Dan Fromm
8-Jun-2005, 08:05
Mainly cash, although I've borrowed for major speculations.

I'm pretty much with Jim. In recent years, "buy low, sell higher" has paid for most of my photography-related expenses. Most sales on eBay, some off eBay to people who found me or to previous buyers.

When I was building my cine kit I bought used S8 cameras, most for backup, at camera shows. As I upgraded and upgraded the backup camera, the ones that had been, um, superseded, were sold through the Shutterbug that used to be. Until I went crazy and bought a Beaulieu for a main camera, I was actually ahead on cameras. A used Beaulieu is, proportionally, a bigger sink of money than a boat.

And I'm with paulr with respect to gear that I don't use. I unload at least some of it, and sometimes at a considerable loss. But I'm better off with the cash and a loss realized than with, say, a lens I'm getting no benefit from and an unrealized loss. Thinking of which, I really should mobilize myself and sell my cine cameras, since I've pretty well stopped using 'em.

Bob Salomon
8-Jun-2005, 08:19
Cash, credit and some lease equipment.

Donald Brewster
8-Jun-2005, 08:24
I try to keep it simple, buy used (and usually old), pay cash. Still have more than I use. LF stuff does manage to accumulate.

8-Jun-2005, 08:24
All Cash. SO you might say I buy very very very little.

John Kasaian
8-Jun-2005, 08:56
I pay off the credit card in full each month and get airline miles. What do I really need? Film, paper, chemicals really. Once I've got the basics for a format covered , everything else is either an upgrade, spares(in the case of archaic aerial photography gear or film holders,) or luxuries I really could do just as nicely--- and often better without (like another format or, heavan forbid, yet another lens!---unless of course, its a "spare" lens;-) ) Oh yeah, did I mention paying off the credit card in full each month?

Oh, and I'm a "bottom feeder" ---nearly all my kit is used (often very used) equipment which carries with each bit of gear a history of desires, disappointments, adventures, frustrations and successes bequeathed by my LF photographic "ancestors" which I find comforting.

Thats this amateur's modus, anyway.

Ted Fullerton
8-Jun-2005, 09:42
My personal feeling with photography is that cost is an important component of the aesthetic.

I got into 4x5 by shooting with pinhole cameras for 2 years, my complete outfit was less than $200.

That said, I usually do not buy unless I can pay cash. That usually means used with lenses, typically not more than $400.

For my 4x5 camera, however, I waited until I could talk a credit card compay into 0% interest for 6 months and then purchased a camera I was sure I could pay off in that time.

Dan Jolicoeur
8-Jun-2005, 10:06
Cash, Barter, sell, trade. The best way is to buy my wife a nice peice of 35mm gear a few months before I want something. Of course the LF stuff I want cost more, but she will use her credit card and pay it off by selling clothes and stuff on auctions.

Bill McMannis
8-Jun-2005, 10:28
I second Dan's comment. Cash is king (in more ways than one.) Whenever I see a piece of equipment that I feel I need that I cannot afford to pay cash for, something goes on up on Ebay to cover it.

Debt: bad. Credit card debt: VERY bad.

Nghi Hoang
8-Jun-2005, 11:10
I am a student, so I don't actually have an income. I have student loans that include a living expenses budget which include money for dining out, fun activities, clothes, etc. I spend less on thess accounts or don't spend at all and save that money toward my photography hobby. It takes quite a bit of time to save this way. Sometimes I get presents in the form of money on my birthday. I use that on photography as well. From time to time, various departments at my medical school announce need for test subjects for various clinical research projects. I sign up to be the guinea pig and get paid a bit of money (max has been $75). I don't think I am going to sign up for the projects where they poke your veins anymore cuz I want to preserve those veins for future use, just in case. That amount pays for a few rolls of film or a partial box of 4x5 sheet film of Provia or something else. I never buy on credit. I don't like "bad" debts, so I make sure the money is in my bank account before I forge out the credit card, which I use for on-line purchase for convenience and safety reasons. Most of my photography gear is used gear. They work fine for me! I have never tried to sell any of my works, which I don't think is anywhere near good. Besides, they are for my personal enjoyment. Someday, when I grow to be as good as some of you are, I might consider trying to sell something.

Ed Sandifer
8-Jun-2005, 11:22
I buy most of my stuff with cash from the sale of previous equipment quite a bit of which was purchased with credit. So its a mixed bag! Recently I switched entirely to 8x10 and sold all my 4x5 equipment to help do so. When I buy lenses I try to buy ones which cover larger formats than I currently have so I can keep them through upcoming format changes. I know myself well enough to see an 11x14 in my future some day! Interestingly enough, most of my previous credit expenditures on camera equipment have been on high end digital stuff. I make enough money by taking portraits of kids and families to pay my daughter's college expenses and take a couple of vacations. Borrowing money (buying on credit) is OK in my book if you can realize income from the debt. Most businesses are started this way. I make zero money with my large format hobby but the digital income covers a lot of my photographic sins.

Graham Patterson
8-Jun-2005, 11:43
I have not bought new equipment since 1975... I am also strictly a cash economy - money in the bank _first_. Most of my LF equipment was aquired using extra money I was paid for covering for my boss for several months. It would not have happened in the normal course of events.

Mark Sawyer
8-Jun-2005, 11:51
I'm single, no kids, and the house is paid off, so I have a little disposable income, (not a lot, I'm a high school teacher...) So I pay cash, (Paypal on a debit), for ebay stuff. Fortunately, I have pretty simple tastes, so I'm happy with older semi-respectable lenses.

QT Luong
8-Jun-2005, 13:49
Cash. I haven't and don't plan to use credit for things other than a house.

Brian Sims
8-Jun-2005, 18:00
Ok...you are all beating around the bush. How you finance your photography habit (for those of us with significant partners) involves strategies appropriate for the marital battlefield. There are several approaches: 1. Get the kids involve and claim "It's for the kids." 2. Threaten to start drinking again (only works if you have stopped). 3. Keep a detailed record of your partners hobby purchases and then try to stay just under that level. 4. (This is my approach) Over pay your federal taxes then assert that the big refund is due to your write-offs of your photopgraphy business. Then take the refund and go shopping for that new lens!

Dave Moeller
8-Jun-2005, 18:23

You missed one: 5. Have a partner who appreciates that artistic work has theraputic value, and does not therefore have to pay for itself dollar-for-dollar. (Or maybe I'm just lucky, and I'm the only one in this situation.)

8-Jun-2005, 20:46
Personal check to Dagor77. Everybody else gets VISA or USPS money order. VISA is paid off monthly. Oh yeah, and cash at Wolf/Ritz camera on the rare occasion they carry anything that I need (like Polaroid 55 for instance).

Conrad Hoffman
8-Jun-2005, 22:11
Cash only. I'm basically cheap and wait to stumble on decent used equipment, especially something I can shine up or repair. A major purchase would be anything over $100, and I almost never exceed $200. I can afford most anything I really want, but I can rarely justify top line equipment. Most recent purchase was a set of 4 like-new Lisco/Riteway 4x5 film holders at a flea market for $20. Also picked up a nearly perfect Argus 35mm for $5, so you can see I'm not a big spender. I'd rather invest in film and paper. I buy used cameras and my wife buys yarn, so we don't have to hide anything from each other :-)

Bruce Wehman
9-Jun-2005, 08:55
You know, I really don’t know. It seems that whenever I need something, all I have to do is mention it to one of the young, female, groupies who are always hanging around and soon enough, it appears! Then, there are these marketing reps who are underfoot constantly…you know, they actually pay to have you use their stuff! Yea, and there was this flea market where the guy forced me to take a 110 XL so that he wouldn’t have to carry it back to his garage. … Then they’re times when I’m feeling down, and my wife comes over and says, “Hon, you look like you need to go out and spend a bunch of money on some of those wonderful things you have downstairs – here’s some money out of the cookie jar.”

Seriously: Being a really, really, cheap sort of a person, and having the company that I work for unload an entire photo lab to reduce overhead, are reasons why I have been able to (so far) get by with cash.

Ole Tjugen
9-Jun-2005, 11:03
Cash only, but only because "real" credit cards are very uncommon here in Norway. I don't think I'd want one either, my company expenses card is bad enough.

Basically if I don't have the money, I can't buy. Maybe that's why so much of my equipment is more than 50 years old?

Scott Rosenberg
9-Jun-2005, 11:34
cash only... buying things you can't pay for is a sure-fire way into a deep hole financially (cars, houses, and other large purchases withstanding).
about 90% comes from Jim at midwest photo. 10% private sales.

i try to avoid ebay, as often jim sells stuff in better condition for less money.