No limitations: how MPB’s photo and video kit trading platform lets creatives thrive
By transforming how photographers and filmmakers can buy, sell and trade the latest equipment, the platform allows storytellers to experiment and elevate their craft – and support a more sustainable industry to boot.
- It's Nice That
- 17 August 2021
At the core of a great creative project is the story, but in reality the costs of bringing that story to life – particularly in photography and filmmaking – can be limiting for many. This is what MPB is trying to change. The platform is fast becoming a go-to for global creatives looking to buy, sell and trade their equipment, making professional kit far more attainable, and in turn allowing those creatives all the perks of top spec cameras. Whether this means experimenting with a new type of camera to diversify and evolve their practice, or elevating their work to the next level of finish, this new access has opened doors for many.
Take photographer Tahiti Abdulbasir for example. An experienced portrait and documentary photographer who works as social and community manager at MPB Brooklyn, she takes leaves out of the books of Arlene Gottfried and Jamel Shabazz and looks to the streets of her hometown of New York City for seemingly endless inspiration. “I’m drawn to simplistic locations and photographing people who don’t consider themselves professional models because what comes through is their true human nature. Constantly expecting the unexpected leaves most photographers [in NYC] always having new stories to tell and document.” Yet while the ideas and stories are unbounded for Tahiti, over time the constant pressure of building a creative career became (as they do for many others) overwhelming. She started out shooting digital and would take on as many projects as possible “not thinking about the creative and physical strain,” she says.
Then, around four years ago, Tahiti took the steps to slow down, and changing her camera to solely film played a huge part in this shift. “It’s changed my workflow, precision, and overall creative eye for detail,” she explains. By trading on MPB, over the past few years she’s worked with Hasselblad, Mamiya, and Leica cameras, and makes no bones about the fact that being able to trade and upgrade her kit has been “life-changing”. “Most photographers can attest to the limitations they face because of the financial constraints of affording prime glass, telephoto lenses, and other necessities. The evolution of my work is hugely a result of [MPB].”
Similarly to Tahiti, photographer Zac Paonessa – who is content marketing coordinator at MPB Brighton – made the move to film as a means to gear-change his creative approach. After carrying round various Fujifilm cameras for four years or so, the “unthinkable happened,” he jokes. “I got complacent with the number of photos I was taking. I was filling up 64GB SD cards like they were nothing, only using about 5 per cent of the images. I realised I had been using my camera for everyday snaps and holidays as well as photography projects, and it all just felt quite messy and unproductive to me.”
As a result of this oversaturation, Zac says he lost some of his interest in photography and it was “time for a change”. So he traded in his entire setup for cash, and bought a Fujifilm GW690 medium-format film camera – despite fairly limited experience in medium format. “The fact I could only take eight shots per roll, this really felt like what I needed to keep myself focused.” Letting his equipment guide his new process, Zac began to work on more pre-planned, stylised shoots and cinematic photography, inspired by the likes of Gregory Crewdson, using a growing personal collection of retro props. After a while Zac did a “complete U-turn” and traded his medium format and a Sony A7R II he’d acquired for a Fujifilm X-T3, “going back to where I started my journey… the Fuji systems are just right for me.” Something he might never have had the opportunity to figure out, were it not for the ability to trade equipment.
While Tahiti and Zac changed their equipment to enforce a new creative approach, photographer (and deputy head of operations at MPB Brooklyn) Sade Fasanya has utilised her access to specialist equipment to focus on a particular area of her portfolio – portraiture. Starting out by experimenting with street photography, documentary and portraits, “with a particular knack for black-and-white,” Sade has built on her passion for “documenting the intersectionalities of the Black experience”. As a Nigerian-American woman, she feels drawn to photographing communities and cultures in the US and internationally, she says, inspired by Gordon Parks – “who used his camera to capture and create prevailing moods, particularly in African-American communities” – Dawoud Bey and Carrie Mae Weems.
At the beginning, shyness held her back from shooting one-on-one portraits, but with experience came confidence in her skills “as well as sharpening my emotional intelligence”. As such she’s taken on more in-depth projects, shooting portraits and interviewing people, and invested in the equipment to best tell those stories – working more in film, including medium format which is “excellent for portraiture”. “Additionally, I’m more intentional about what lens I use to photograph, a 75mm and 50mm are my usual go-to’s for portraits and 28mm-35mm for street photography.”
Sade shows that having the freedom to try out the best cameras out there for portraiture was vital in promoting that aspect of her practice, and allowing her ideas and stories to thrive. There's an added bonus for the planet too. MPB circulates a whopping 300,000 items of kit every year, making for an incredible reduction in the industry’s impact on the planet; so creatives can feel doubly good about becoming part of the platform’s burgeoning community.
Copyright © Sade Fasanya, 2021