Sometimes in life the actions of other people can really surprise you. Unfortunately in our media driven world the surprise is too often actually one of shock or horror; shock or horror that the media seem to celebrate by pushing it down our so-ready-to-swallow-it throats. Sometimes, I think it’s a wonder we don’t spend our lives hiding under the bed in fear.
What we are seemingly more rarely shown by the media is the acts of kindness or acts of selfless generosity. Maybe they just don’t happen as much, or maybe they just aren’t as interesting to report? Either way it would appear – at least to the cynical – that the world is a horrible place.
You might be wondering what on earth this has to do with photography, and perhaps, why on earth I’m babbling on about it on here. Well I’ll tell you… Just recently a Rollei 35se and a Rollei B35 were given to me. Not by a friend, not even an acquaintance, but in fact by a complete stranger who go in touch with me via my website for the sole reason of giving me these cameras. His reasoning was little more than that he felt I would have an appreciation for them. Clearly I was more than happy to take them but I had to insist he take something in return. A deal was done via a bottle of Laphroig, his choice, though I would have chosen the same for myself. With or without the return gift, Ray, the man who gave me the camera, made the gesture, and genuinely, it made me feel pretty good about the world. I’ve since attempted to pass on the good deed by giving away a Leica, but quite genuinely, it doesn’t feel the same level of gesture – more on that in a mo.
Ray’s gesture isn’t the first time this sort of thing has happened to me whilst I’ve been running this website. Some time ago I was given a Canon 35ML by a good spirited American who goes by the name of Shelly (Sometimes), that action in itself nearly inspired this post, though I couldn’t quite find the words to put together what I wanted to say at the time. I’d also like to add on the subject of Shelly’s donation, that whilst the camera in itself is worth little, she also posted it to me, for nothing! It costed her to part with it! Incidentally, Ray didn’t want postage either, what is with these people?!
Now you might be thinking, “But you gave away a Ricoh GR1s last year Hamish”. This is true, but actually, as was probably obvious at the time, my main motivation was seeing if I could bring my Facebook page to life … It worked, my Facebook page now buzzes a little bit when I post things on there. It also generates me (and the other folks who’s content I put on there) a bit of traffic to my websites etc. Great, this is how social media works, it’s what it’s for; sharing media socially. I achieved a goal and paid for it with the cost of a camera; I didn’t really give it away, I sold it, and possibly a little bit of my soul to social media. In short that doesn’t count.
I’ve also given cameras to friends, but that doesn’t count either. They are friends, that’s the sort of thing you do. And anyway, those who know me will agree, I’m a cheeky blagger, I’m always asking people for favours that more than likely outstretch what I’ve done in return. Just yesterday my mate Alex drove a 20 mile round trip to loan me a car battery and battery charger. He didn’t have to do it, he did because we are mates, and that’s the sort of thing mates do.
The point of writing all this, is first to give a name that me and Shelly coined when she chose to give me her camera; the thing I wished her in return when she refused to accept anything else by means of payment. The name we gave it was Karmera. Or at least that was what I wished her, “good Karmera”. Hopefully it’s clear this is what I think the kids call a “mashup” of the words Karma and Camera. In wishing Shelly good “Karmera” I was suggesting that I hoped she would receive a similar gesture in return. But the way I see it, since I’m making up words anyway, why not let Karmera also be the word for giving away a camera?
Encouraging a bit of Karmera
The other point of writing this post is to encourage other folks to do the same! I’ve given away another camera since the Leica contest idea. I’ve given away an Oly XA2 to a chap who emailed me saying he’d like to enter the Leica contest and hopefully win it because someone smashed his camera in the street. I can’t just change the rules of the competition and give him the Leica… And he might yet win it, his photo is pretty good… but he might not. So I’ve given him my tatty XA2. And do you know what, it felt pretty bloody good! Giving strangers stuff does feel good. It is, I suppose, the irony of the “selfless act”, really there is no such thing. You do it, you feel good; self satisfied, proud of yourself etc. that is the reward.
I’m taking that pride to a whole other level here though, I’m telling you about it – I’m going on about how great and generous I am – which of course almost entirely cheapens my actions to nothing. But for the sake of what I’m saying, that’s fine by me… I’m attempting to encourage a bit of giving, a bit of sharing or at least a bit reallocation wealth. Yes I perhaps look like a bit of a billy-big-head doing it, but so what? Judge me if you like, but click away from this post with even the slightest idea of giving one of your cameras to someone else and I’ve succeeded in doing something positive … And the moment you give away that camera, you will succeed in doing something positive too!
I’m taking the opportunity to mention this now, since at this moment in time my website is seeing quite a bit more traffic than usual. Who would have thought giving a way a Leica would generate interest in the website of the person doing it… Well clearly me, clearly that was one of the reasons behind doing it. And I can’t imagine for one minute anyone not realising that this would have been part of my motivation in doing it…? But whilst my motives are a little tainted, yours don’t have to be. It doesn’t need to be about gaining Facebook likes or drawing attention to yourself (as I continue to do even by writing this post), it can just about for the sake of giving, and feeling good for doing it!
Give away your cameras here?
What I’d like, is for anyone who has a camera they no longer want, who doesn’t have any other sensible means to give it away, to post it in the comments below. Then if anyone reading this spots a camera they like the look of they can claim it. You never know, you might spot something you like later. Or if you are lucky like me, someone you don’t know might, out of the blue, get in touch to give you something in return. That is indeed the way the age old mystical powers of Karmera work! 😉
I’m not the only person to think this is a good idea either. APUG for example have a “Free cameras” type thread on the forum, no doubt other sites do the same. So equally, if you know of other sites, let me know and I’ll add them to the links below.
Links to free stuff:
APUG – Free Stuff