Photography, USA

Don’t send you broken lenses to Precision Camera

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My favorite lens to shoot with, the Pentax 21mm prime, suddenly stopped working. The outer lens ring was completely knocked off the lens. I suppose I banged it into too many steering wheel and walls in its lifetime, and it just finally had enough. This lens is tough. It comes with a lens hood that is made of metal, and its profile on the camera is minimal. I like to shoot close, and this lens makes that possible. I’ve put it through its paces on the streets of Denver and in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado.

I’ve used it to capture tens of thousands of images and there isn’t any lens I like better. I found Precision Camera through Pentax. It seems that’s where Pentax sends their lenses off for repair, so I contacted them. I went through an online process with the company to start the repair order, and shipped the lens myself from UPS. The lens arrived in early May and I assumed work had begun. After several weeks of silence, I attempted to e-mail the company through their website. I received no response on three separate e-mails.

I then called their customer service department, and spoke with Charlene, who said that the problem was that I hadn’t authorized payment on the credit card for the $166.50 repair. I was under the impression that this was paid up front, when I entered my information online and received a confirmation. She was short, and I would bet she didn’t look at the order itself, just repeating the phrase “now that the payment is received you will get your lens in four to six business days.” Today the timeframe given was five to seven business days. I didn’t feel confident about the conversation or the information I was receiving, as the online order status had a big red stop sign on it and stated that they were waiting for backordered parts. I told the customer service representative and she stuck to her story about the payment problem and now everything is on schedule. I wasn’t surprised when I didn’t receive my lens within that time frame.

So I called again today, July 26, and spoke with Charlene again who says that the payment was approved, and the parts are on backorder until July 6th. After that date she says the lens will be returned as soon as possible. I asked her about the reason I was told on my last call that the lens would be delivered in four to six days, she said that was me that told you, and normally repairs take five to seven days barring any unforeseen circumstance. In this case I supposedly have parts on backorder that will arrive on July 6th. I asked how long ago the parts were ordered and she gave me two different dates in May, the eighth and then the 12th.

I will follow up on July 6, to determine if the part was received or not. My complaint about this experience is that the numbers keep changing, and I’ve been kept in the dark for long periods of time. I think your customer service department is suffering a deficiency in effective communication. The system you have in place isn’t working and the customers are receiving mixed information from your website and your live representatives. The information we do receive is often incorrect and is leaving your customers dissatisfied. We are vocal about this problem, and your company received poor reviews in many internet forums where fellow photographers warn against dealing with your company in any way.

I will join the ranks of your naysayers and advise any photographer I come across to steer clear of your company. The equipment we send you is expensive and waiting more than three months for a lens repair is just bad business. After being completely ignored on four separate occasions online, and getting mixed and inconsistent information on two phone calls, I am completely frustrated and unhappy with this experience.

Camera companies would do well to take their business elsewhere. I will contact Pentax about this experience, and while my one voice might not worry you, the voice of potentially tens of thousands of other photographers and customers of yours will eventually be heard and a good number of us are unhappy.

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5  Life Lessons  I've learned through Street Photography

Photographing people in the streets is exhilarating, entertaining,exhausting, and educational. These lessons I mention are simple lessons that I often take for granted. Shooting with the street photography genre in mind is something that I enjoy doing and have been practicing for a few years now. So I’ll throw out this disclaimer: I am a student of photography with aspirations to be a journalist. I don’t get paid for any of this and I just want to share my experiences of shooting in the streets with other photographers in hopes of providing some insight as to what works and doesn’t work for me personally.

I don’t want to come off as a know-it-all street photographer trying to push whatever it is that I think defines street photography on you. The number one rule that I always fall back on in photography is: There are no rules. Photograph what you love and do it for yourself. If you are interested in my experience with photography, read on and I hope you enjoy it. I hope you’ll share some of your valuable insight with me in return.

1. Don’t hesitate

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The number one biggest regret I ever experience while photographing people on the streets is every moment I miss because I didn’t just trust my gut. If you have a feeling something has the potential to be good, just shoot, don’t think. Why handcuff yourself waiting for perfection? Life doesn’t slow down for you so you can get a better glimpse, it’s happening and you’re missing it. Take off your lens cap and get snapping.

2. Take More Risks

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Nothing ventured nothing gained. Whenever I see a spectacular photo the one thing I always think to myself is “how did the photographer gain access into that environment?” How did James Nachtway find himself hanging out with the family in between the train tracks? How did Capa get his shots of D-Day on the beach in Normandy? They all had the courage to be in the moment and the intelligence to put themselves there. I’m not saying you need to risk your life or anything, but taking the safe route will always get you the safe image. One of the most important lessons any aspiring photographer should learn is to get closer. When you think you’re close take one more step forward just beyond your comfort zone. Push yourself. Don’t ask for permission, ask for forgiveness.

3. Slow Down

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Sometimes it’s best to take it easy. Meander about. Loiter. Blend in with your surroundings. The longer you’re  in one spot doing nothing the less conspicuous you become. It’s amazing the way life can unfold in front of your eyes. If you’re patient the moment will enter your frame rather than you rushing around desperately seeking it out, trying to force it. My habit is to shoot fast and move on. I believe I do this to avoid any more confrontation than I am already causing by aiming my camera at them. This is a bad habit that I am consciously trying to remedy. Take a break, lean up against a wall for a little while, let life happen and see what unfolds.

4. Be Real

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Show empathy. Be sincere. Listen. It’s amazing what people say to you if you just let them talk. When I’m not keen on being social I notice that my photography gets a little worse. I’m not participating with the people in my environment. I feel like I must put off a pretty strong “leave me the hell alone” vibe, because sometimes no one approaches me at all. It’s like I’m a dark cloud and people are instinctively running for cover when they see me.Other days I can’t get anyone to leave me alone.

I believe human beings are more intuitive than we give ourselves credit for. If your having a hard time being social or you’re feeling awkward and getting a lot of frowns and sideways glances while your out photographing, check your mental attitude. Are you frowning yourself? Is you’re mind clear and open to new experience? Or is it clouded with suspicion and self doubt? If it’s the latter, or you’re just in a sour mood, point your camera at the inanimate, work on some urban landscape, explore the world beyond the people. Save your human interaction for a time when you’re more receptive to it.

That’s the beauty of life, it’s unpredictable and multi-layered, filled with infinite possibilities.

5. Pay attention

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Not everyone loves the camera. It’s okay to pass up a shot that you don’t feel right about. One of the advantages of living in a world with billions of people is that it won’t be long before you get another opportunity to land that one special shot we are all in search of. I think it is imperative that photographers who make a habit of shooting in the streets  have decent enough street smarts to be able to recognize a potentially dangerous situation. In our quest to document life and answer whatever burning questions about it we may have it’s not uncommon to find yourself uncomfortably deep in unfamiliar surroundings. It’s a razor thin line between courage and stupidity. Be wary of your surroundings, be careful, and keep your head on a swivel. Trust your instincts and live to shoot another day.

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5 Life Lessons I’ve learned through Street Photography

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