Fat Lama – could your camera collection earn its keep?

By Hamish Gill

At the end of last year I loaned two people my one of my Leica cameras each. I felt like I “knew” both of them well enough through social media to trust them, but I’d be lying if I wasn’t slightly concerned that something might accidentally happen – not least because one of the people was Jeremy from Sunny 16 Podcast, and he has quite the reputation for breaking things…

In the end, I decided it was worth the risk, not least because both Jeremy and Toby (the other loanee) had expressed a strong interest in understanding the way of the Leica. I also figured that whilst I like owning more than one of these cameras, there’s no way I can shoot them all at the same time. I’ve quite often contemplated the reality that I can’t shoot my entire camera collection all at once. I don’t like to think of myself as a collector, and do like to think that I shoot all of my cameras at least sometimes. But it’s hard to get away from the fact that quite a lot of my kit lays dormant most of the time. Loaning my kit to Jeremy and Toby made me think, perhaps there was something in this. Perhaps I could even make a few quid in the process too.

Whilst both cameras were out on loan, I had an email from a nice chap called Tim from a peer to peer rental company called Fat Lama. He initially got in touch with some statistics about film camera rental asking if might be interested in working with them on a bit of content around the subject. That was sort of interesting to me, but the fact that someone from a peer to peer rental company had got in touch just as I’d been thinking about it was too much of a coincidence to ignore.

Peer to Peer Rental

If you’re not aware of the concept of peer to peer rental, the idea is almost exactly what I’d been considering. Fat Lama is a platform that allows people to list their gear, not for sale, but instead for rental to people who live near enough to them to collect it and delivery it back. As a visitor to the website, you can either rent the stuff that’s listed on there, or you can list you own stuff and have people rent it off you. This might sound fairly horrifying, but actually, the idea of the platform is not just to allow people to rent stuff to each other, but also to protect them from the various possibilities of something going wrong. First and foremost, Fat Lama provide the platform for getting in touch with people, but where the company really seems to provide a service is through the fact that they also give up to £25,000 worth of insurance in case something goes wrong – you can read more about that here.

I ended up speaking to Tim on the phone. We had a bit of a chat about the fact that I was considering listing my Leica cameras on there. I mentioned their value and suggested that I was a little nervous about the prospect. Of course, I got the full sales pitch about how much protection the platform offers in terms of insurance, but he also went on to tell me how the weight of responsibility is on the person borrowing the camera to keep it looked after, and how as a company they do their a hell of a lot to vet the people who use the service. I must say, having had a chat with him I was fairly sold on the idea of it all, and have subsequently signed up and begun the process of listed a couple of cameras.

Some thoughts on the experience so far

To be honest, I’ve not listed many cameras yet, I’ve been so busy at work that I’ve not had the time to even think about doing it. Perhaps because I’ve not listed many cameras, I’ve not had any takers yet. This might also be because the idea of the site is focused on renting to and from people in the area local to you, and my local area is fairly rural. I suspect if I lived in a bigger city I might have more luck. One way or another, as soon as someone hires something I’ll report back with more thoughts.

Other than that, the experience has been quite positive so far. I was quite surprised how easy it is to list things through the app on my phone, and the interface on both the mobile app and the desktop site doesn’t annoy me too much – which is quite unusual for me.

Those stats

As mentioned, the original reason Tim got in touch with me was to share some stats and talk about how we might be able to publish some sort of content around them. To be honest, this isn’t really my sort of thing to do, not least because most of the stats were more to do with digital kit that was of no interest to me at all. That said, he did send me one graph that piqued my interest:

The above shows the increase in searches for film cameras on Fat Lama during 2017. This likely tells us much more about the increase in use of the Fat Lama platform than it says about peoples desires to shoot film. But one way or another, if you want to make a bit of cash out of film cameras you don’t want to sell, Fat Lama would appear to be an increasingly credible place to do that.

So, if you’re interested in either renting your kit, or the idea of renting kit off other people appeals, join via this link and you’ll get a £25 off your first rental. I also get £25 to play with on the site too, so yeah, get on that! 😉

One final note…

Fat Lama are obviously pretty tenacious when it comes to various marketing and remarketing strategies. Tim contacting me about publishing content says enough about that alone. Beyond that sort of thing, they also seem to do a fair amount of remarketing on social media, so you can expect to see a few adverts of theirs to appear on your social channels if you do click through to their site.

This sort of thing doesn’t really bother me, but it seemed worth a mention especially as some of their marketing tactics have been mentioned in reviews on their Trust Pilot. It seems most people who have used the service itself are happy, but some who have been marketed at via the likes of Gumtree have been less than impressed.

I’m mentioning all this as it’s something that came up whilst I’ve been doing my own research on them before committing to the idea of using their service (or indeed talking about it on here). I should add, most of what else I’ve read about them seems positive. I also have high hopes that given a bit more time and effort on my part, this could make for a nice little stream of income for me – not necessarily from readers of this site – but instead from those locally to me who have an interest in the cameras I own. I’m also hoping that by writing this post and so introducing you to this site, those of you with large collections of cameras might also find some benefit in listing cameras.

Finally, if anyone else follows in my path or has used Fat Lama in the past, I’d be very interested to hear about your experiences, both negative and positive – please comment below!

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About The Author

By Hamish Gill
I started taking photos at the age of 9. Since then I've taken photos for a hobby, sold cameras for a living, and for a little more than decade I've been a professional photographer and, of course, weekly contributor to 35mmc.
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Mathew on Fat Lama – could your camera collection earn its keep?

Comment posted: 11/02/2018

I was contacted by Fat Lama when I listed a Bessa R for sale on Gumtree earlier this year. At the time I was pretty dubious about it all. It's interesting to read your take on them, I have a few more cameras than I can realistically use so it might be worth looking into after all.

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Alexander on Fat Lama – could your camera collection earn its keep?

Comment posted: 11/02/2018

Dear Hamish,
a very interesting concept, thank your for your account!
Regarding the critics: well, of course no such concept can be completely flawless (e.g., peer-to-peer apartment-exchanges can end in tragedies, I've learned).
One thing is bothering me: Apparently, they expect that everyone has the most recent browser — I for one, with my 2009 iMac, I'm unable to use their homepage, unfortunately :

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Neil on Fat Lama – could your camera collection earn its keep?

Comment posted: 16/02/2018

It looks like a really good idea actually and there's also a lot of other stuff on there, not just cameras, things like boutique guitar effects pedals which I've always thought would be great to try.

Camera-wise I can't really contribute to it much as I'm trying to just have one camera one lens. But that being said if you want to lend me your monochrom please do so - I am very responsible and trustworthy and will treat it like a new born baby.

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Eric E on Fat Lama – could your camera collection earn its keep?

Comment posted: 28/06/2018

I agree with Alexander, this is a poor website, although the concept is interesting, I am sure they are losing potential customer due to the setting on their website

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