Gear Blog 1 – The HoldFast MoneyMaker
Running parallel to last month’s blog looking at local suppliers around Rothwell & Kettering, this is the first in a new series aimed at photographers focussing on the tools of the trade.
There is no greater nightmare for a professional photographer than your equipment failing. That’s why every wedding photographer worth his or her salt will carry 2 of everything – just in case. There are no second chances with wedding days! Additionally the photographers point of view, it removes the faff of switching lenses every 5 minutes.
Two cameras doesn’t sound like a lot, but with 2.5kg hanging off each shoulder all day, by 10pm your back & spine will not forgive you!
And that’s where the HoldFast MoneyMaker comes in. No Far-Eastern-made seatbelt type construction with thin foam padding here! Made in Oklahoma from US bridle leather, this double-camera strap spreads the load evenly across your back, and the stainless steel sliders enable the camera’s weight to balance evenly at your sides, rather than swinging about loose at your hips. There are additional steel loops on the shoulders for attaching (dare I say) a third camera, or any other accessory you can think of (sunglasses?).
From the HoldFast website:
“We at HF use REAL full grain leathers. As such, each hide will display the unique life that the animal lived showing scars from brands, barbed-wire cuts, stretch marks, insect bites, marks from birthing and even natural wrinkles, etc. One of the beauties of leather is that no two cowhides are alike, because each hide comes from animals that have lived different lives! These scars are not “defects” in the leather, but instead, proof that we actually use real full grain leather which is the absolute BEST leather money can buy. We do not throw out good hides because of scars, rather we embrace these natural markings as part of the story, to which you will now add to. So if you happen to receive a MoneyMaker or one of my products with a scar or brand in the leather, know that you now own a 1-of-a kind piece.”
The first wedding I did with the MoneyMaker strapped over my back was a real gamechanger. When you are on your feet for 12 straight hours, every little extra comfort helps, and this really made a significant difference. The harness attaches to your camera via a locking camera screw, and as a (almost literally) belt & braces security measure, an additional webbing strap too. This gives such peace of mind that there is no chance of your camera being dropped. The build quality is superb, and I’ll be honest; I did look at cheaper me-too products on eBay and Etsy, but since receiving it I have no regrets.
I spoke with Andy at Rigu, the UK distributor for HoldFast products to learn more about the MoneyMaker and his business.
How did you come to start being the UK distributor for HoldFast?
A previous customer came to me asking if I would consider stocking them as she had been after one for ages, but didn’t want the hassle (or additional expense) of importing one from the US herself.
I was a bit hesitant to stock them at first since they are such a high value product and it was a considerable investment to get an appropriate amount of stock. They were so well regarded that I thought it was worth taking the plunge and I got in a small selection to start with.
That grew over the following months to holding most of their range and also growing the amount of stock available as well. I usually have around 100 Money Makers in the stock room at any one time, which sounds like a lot, but with all their variations it does still keep me on my toes in terms of stock management!
What do you love about the Holdfast Money Maker in particular?
I’m not a wedding photographer. Like most “semi-pro” photographers I had been persuaded by friends to shoot a few of them, but it’s never been a career path which is that attractive to me. However, shooting a few of them has given me valuable insight into why a MoneyMaker is a good investment for a photographer.
The first wedding I did I spent the day with two cameras on my neck and shoulder using traditional neck straps. It was stressful and awkward and definitely contributed to me now enjoying the day and having a bad back the next day. I got “lucky” and a customer returned a MoneyMaker in my size that came back looking a bit used, so I claimed it for myself.
The next wedding I did felt so much easier both physically and in terms of workflow. Having a “professional” camera harness also did help me get over a bit of imposter syndrome, and also legitimise me with wedding guests too, whilst also being able to fit in a little bit with the leather (compared to a black nylon harness, for example).
I don’t do weddings anymore, but living and working in and around the Lake District when I do get the chance for a photoshoot it tends to be outdoors, and the MoneyMaker is always with me for those times. I tend to only use a couple of lenses during those shoots so I can get loaded up, and then I’m all set with everything to hand.
What’s it like running your own small business, and how is business growing?
Hard! I think some people don’t realise that Rigu is just one person, which in some ways I should take as a compliment. I don’t really outsource anything, so all of the fulfilment, customer service, marketing, and website stuff is done by me. It has taught me a lot, but it does also make it hard to be able to focus on pushing and improving certain aspects when you know that you can only dedicate so much of the day to something.
How much of your business would you say is word of mouth & recommendations, and how important is it to you?
It’s a fairly small amount, but when it happens it is appreciated and I do think it’s the best kind of advertising. Fundamentally, I shouldn’t really care how customers find the site, but it is nice to get a vote of approval that people like the way I’m doing business, and also that I offer products worth sharing and telling people about.