Editor’s Note: This post is part of our guest post series on photography. Learn more here.
By Ian Wong | Digital Darkroom
Someone once told me that the most boring thing in the world is looking at someone else’s travel photos. Everyone has memories of being trapped at a dinner table with your least favourite aunt, being forced to scroll through their photo albums or iPhone, seeing the most poorly composed holiday photos imaginable.
So why is that that images which might mean so much to your aunt mean so little to you? And in this age of social media when you take photographs and put them online—who are you shooting for?
Over the past three weeks, we went to a Russian wedding, to France to try some wine, and to Switzerland for just a travel. We didn’t shoot much—Anne shot some stuff for our wine company, I was driving around, posted a few pictures on Instagram, shot a few rolls of film, but I didn’t get that many fantastic shots I was very happy with. At the end of our trip, I look back and, you know what, I kind of think that’s all right.
Sometimes in an image, everything is perfect—the composition is right, the lighting is good. But there’s no spark. There’s no love. So how do you fix that? Especially in this age of social media. We think about the audience. Right now when I shoot, I shoot some photos for Facebook, for friends. I used to shoot more serious photos for Flickr (but that’s long been neglected) and then ever since working at Digital Rev, I started posting more on Instagram.
Having an audience on Instagram can be pretty awesome because, as a creative person, half of you wants to keep your work personally to yourself so no one ever criticizes it; but you also want to share it. Art is never developed in isolation, so it’s great when you can post it. You can get feedback. You can learn from others and that’s the great thing about posting and having an audience that is public.
Before we shared everything to the public—like, back in like early 2000s—we used to use MySpace or Xanga. We’d post like tons of pictures in blog form on Tumblr, just for friends. And I kept that all throughout like these last ten years. I really actually loved taking pictures of funny moments just for the small audience. When my friends look at my Instagram, it’s usually more boring but then, that kind of satisfies one outlet for me. The private stuff, the weird stuff, that’s for another audience. So when you separate those shots into different categories, you can go, oh I didn’t get the perfect, beautiful landscape, but hey, I found a funny moment with friends, so I’ll just chuck it “over here”.
Being happy with yourself does help with being happy with your photography because if you’re always stressing yourself out—of course, we still need to improve—you will end up being nowhere. Knowing your audience, separating those two, really helps with that.
For each of these different audiences, you can have your own projects and when you’re traveling, it’s great to define and divide your time into these different projects. It allows you to keep experimenting. Everyone has their own style, which is great—you should always develop some things that you like seeing and something you like shooting. And when experimenting, you can use these different audiences to explore different sides of things. So for example, street photography, or candid photography and funny moments, those can be for friends. And then you have landscapes and the serious stuff—that’s for the public, for Instagram.
When we were traveling this time, we had some stuff which was just work video, but we always squeezed in time for own personal photography. Anne’s always shooting. I’m always shooting. I’ve also been exploring a lot of drone photography, which is super fun for me—it’s completely new most the time. I sometimes forget to even take photos. Just flying around, exploring these amazing places with a completely different point of view, it’s just really good fun. It helps you get stay creative.
Something that keeps coming up over and over again nowadays is the issue of authenticity. What images are real? Which ones are fake? What emotions are being manufactured, and what idea of ourselves do we want to show to the public?
This is always relevant for travel photos where everyone wants to look like they’re having a great time. But it doesn’t make any sense to pretend to yourself that your life or a moment in your life was better than it actually was. There’s no need to put a filter to salvage sunset when it’s actually cloudy. There’s no need to look like you’re having fun, when you actually bored out of your mind.
Photography helps us remember. It’s a selective form of reminiscing. Sometimes the holiday can be so bad or are so good but in five years—which passes by faster you can think—often all those negative memories fade away because they weren’t captured on film.
At the end, all you’re left with are just pictures of you and your best friends.
About Digital Darkroom Digital Darkroom is an ode to film photography. With this project, Anne and I are seeking to go back to the roots of why we were drawn towards this craft in the first place, and what compels us to keep coming back.
About Gaifong Gaifong is an online platform where you can rent photography gear, drones, and other equipment to and from fellow creatives. Available in Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan, and selected markets. www.gaifongapp.com
At Gaifong, there is nothing more important to us than the safety of your items. In this article, we will cover the ways in which lending out your equipment on Gaifong is safe and secure.
The Security Deposit System
Fraud-checking using Stripe Radar
1. The Security Deposit System
As mentioned in previous blog posts and inside the app itself, the Security Deposit system is the cornerstone of safety on Gaifong.
When you list an item onto Gaifong, you must state a security deposit amount. This amount must be at least 50% of the item’s value.
When a borrower rents your item, the security deposit amount you stated will be frozen on his or her payment method. What this means is that they will not run away or damage your item without consequences—the deposit is already authorised on their payment method.
For example, you’re renting out your Canon 5D—a popular model on our platform, you could put a deposit as $9,000 HKD (~$1,300 USD). This amount will be held on the borrower’s card, making sure they don’t run away.
2. ID Checks
All borrowers of equipment above $5,000 HKD (~$700 USD) will be asked to go through an ID check. Currently, you will be asked to upload a copy of your HKID or passport, along with a photo of yourself holding this. This ensures that the borrower is who they say they are, and that they are not using a false identity.
Report the following situation to us immediately:
If someone requests you to send money to them outside of Gaifong
If a person asks you for an exemption of the security deposit
This is a red flag for suspicious behaviour, and we will be able to investigate and blacklist such users immediately.
Learn more about security deposits in the FAQ section inside the app.
3. Fraud-checking using Stripe Radar
Lastly, Gaifong’s bookings System is supported by Stripe, a PCI Level-1 (highest) payment gateway trusted by many major online businesses, including Lyft, Shopify, and Deliveroo. All information is sent through secure connection, and never reaches Gaifong’s servers.
When a borrower submits their payment information, Stripe automatically checks this against all past transactions to identify suspicious or stolen cards. Borrowers also need to enter details such as address, CCV, and full name, to make sure that they are not using a stolen identity or payment method.
As an Owner, therefore always insist that the Borrower books through the system, so that they can go through the security check.
Bottom line: the Gaifong booking system protects your items and keeps out thieves and evildoers. We will update our security measures periodically to be even more airtight. For suggestions and questions, please reach out to us through the Help Centre in the app.
Welcome to Gaifong! To protect the safety and security of both borrower and lender, Gaifong acts as a middleman through our e-payments system, so that borrowers don’t have to worry about owners leaving with their security deposits, and owners can be assured that borrowers will return their items on time.
In short, this is how the rental process works
The borrower provides payments details when making a reservation in the system.
When the owner accepts, the borrower’s payment method is charged.
The money will first go to Gaifong, and will then be released to the owner on Day 2 of the rental period.
The Security Deposit amount is not charged—it is only authorised on the borrower’s payment method.
The Security Deposit hold will lapse 2 days after the rental period.
NEW: Borrowers also need to go through an ID check with our system before they can borrow expensive items, such as cameras or lenses.
For more questions, consult the Help Centre inside the app, or talk with one of our customer representatives. Happy renting!
Drones are going to be a ubiquitous part of the future. The past few years alone have seen an industry grow from a few million to a few billion dollars, with applications ranging from military to agriculture, and now, in the hands of consumers.
There are drones that can fly 60km/h and race around tracks. Others can fit into your pocket — not much bigger than your iPad mini. Still, others are big, sturdy, and can even carry packages. But the truth is, many are afraid to try. If you’re one of those people, then scroll down, and take a look at the 6 myths about drone-flying — debunked.
Myth #1 — I need special training to fly a drone
Most people think that you need hours and hours of training just to steer a drone. The truth is, you can master the basic controls just 3 minutes! You can take off, and land safely, most drones on Gaifong. Most higher-end drones on the market now have auto-takeoff, auto-landing, and obstacle avoidance functions. Even if you accidentally drop the controller, the drone stays in mid-air! Battery life goes up to 20+ minutes, if you feel lazy, just tap a button and call it home — it’ll fly itself back to where it took off!
Myth #2 — I don’t have a car — it’s too big to carry
Well, if you’re renting a military drone (which, of course, isn’t available on Gaifong…), then maybe it can be bulky. But most consumer drones can fit into a small suitcase. The DJI Mavic Pro can be folded and put into a small-sized backpack or even handbag! The DJI Spark? Even smaller!
Myth #3 — If I damage a rented drone, I’ll have to pay for the whole thing
Well, if you drove it into the ocean on purpose, and pour water on it, then yes, you have to pay for it! But of, you just have to pay for any lost or broken parts, and small repair costs. Normal wear and tear is expected, such as scratches — just talk to the Owner about it beforehand!
Myth #4 — Drones are illegal to fly in Hong Kong
Drones are indeed illegal to fly… if you’re in an airport, that is. In most other places, they are perfectly legal to fly. But remember — avoid crowds, buildings, and not go higher than 120m. Here’s a list of government guidance about flying drones in Hong Kong.
Myth #5 — There’s nowhere to fly drone in Hong Kong
If you’re in Mongkok, then indeed! Nowhere to fly! BUT, you can take a quick minivan or bus to Jordan Valley Park, Cyberport park, or any other open country park, then you’re in drone heaven. Just remember — always maintain a line of sight with the drone, and don’t go too far!
Myth #6 — Only professionals fly drones
Well, by now, we hope that you’re convinced that even beginners can experience the joy of drone-flying. Go with a friend and take turns, and keep a steady thumb. With 3 minutes of practice, you too can make stunning videos like these!
Gaifong, ‘neighbours’ in Cantonese, is your go-to place for borrowing and lending spare items lying around—such as camera lenses or GoPros.
But with over 18,000+ items on our platform, how does one go about getting items noticed? In internet lingo, what’s the best “SEO” strategy specific to the Gaifong platform?
Here are our top 5 tips. We’ll explore these one by one:
Include a High-Quality Photo
Optimise Item Titles
Offer Multiple Pick-up Locations
Reviews, Reviews, Reviews!
Make Your Description Informative
1. Include a High-Quality Photo
This one is obvious, but many people forget this part! Sometimes when you fulfil a Wish or add items from Suggestions, your listing is made without an actual photo.
Under your Profile Page, identify all the items with no photos and add one as soon as you can. Without a photo, they won’t appear in search results.
2. Optimise Item Titles
What’s special about your GoPro Hero 4? Or your PlayStation? After all, tons of people have those. Limit your item title to around 30 characters to make sure they display fully in all screen sizes. Include interesting details that make your stand out:
GoPro Hero 5
GoPro Hero 5 (with memory card)
GoPro Hero 5 (with memory card) — Week: $300
3. Offer Multiple Pick-up Locations
Most people search for items based on location, rather than price. After all, what good is a HK$30-per-day Nintendo Switch if it’s all the way on Lamma Island?
Under Item Details > Pick-up Locations, it is a good idea to include as many locations as possible. For example, if you live in Fan Ling but work in Tin Hau, and you’re listing a small item that is easily transportable, such as a GoPro or a 360 camera, then you can list in all these places.
Even better: list in locations where your colleagues and family members live or work — they can help with meet-ups! Enlist their help.
4. Reviews, Reviews, Reviews!
Items with at least 1 review are much more likely to be rented out than those with 0 reviews. In fact, reviews are the single most important variable when it comes to item popularity!
To get your first review, you may want to temporarily lower your item price, or offer short-term discounts. Watch the reviews grow after your first one!
5. Make Your Description Informative
Lastly, did you know that our search algorithm crawls through item descriptions too? Use this to include associated keywords for your items.
If you’re in a place in Hong Kong where people might be using two languages, make sure you include both Chinese and English keywords. If you’re renting out your drone, make sure you mention that batteries are included too—sometimes, people just need to borrow batteries and not the whole drone.
The better your description, the clearer the picture people will have about your items. When compared with other similar items or models, yours will therefore get more expressions of interests and conversions.
We’ve all seen videos like the one below. Virtual Reality is the future of tech and communications. However, right now in 2018, it is still too expensive! The headsets alone will set up back a few thousand. But it’s the powerful PCs that must be connected to the headsets, that drive up the cost.
Editor’s Tips: VR Rentals start from HK$900 a day. Split the cost with friends!
You save: HK$18,000 (vs buying)
A new model comes out every year, it’s hard to give up! Why not just rent when you need it? After all, how many times do you go scuba-diving or skiing? But once you’re up there on the mountains, wow. What an experience.
Editor’s Tips: Great for snorkeling! For deeper dives, rent a casing.
You save: HK$4,000 (vs buying)
3. 360 Cameras
More a toy than anything useful… rent and try for a weekend. But for those one or two occassions where you need them, it’s really something!
Editor’s Tips: Use together with Facebook and Youtube 360 for a new travel photos sharing experience.
You save: HK$1,500 (vs. buying)
4. Digital SLR Cameras
There are over 1,000 of bodies and lenses ou tthere in the market… why limit yourself to one? Go rent, rather than buy. Use a Sony A7 one weekend; the Canon 5D the next, and a Nikon D850 the next… feeling creative? Try a Contax T3!
Editor’s Tips: Try something below HK$100 a day if it’s your first time. If you’re already a pro, go forHK $500–1,000 a day range.
You save: Up to HK$25,000 (vs. buying)
5. Nintendo Switch
Let’s have a Mario Mart Tournament! Rent for your kids, nephews, nieces, for school holidays. Comes with up to 4 controllers for a grand melee!
Editor’s Tips: Most sets on Gaifong come with multiple games.
You save: HK$8,000 (vs. buying console + games)
6. PlayStation 4
FIFA, NBA2K18, Gran Turismo… these are all classic titles we love. But let’s face it, if you’re moving up your career ladder and are busy with kids, you probably won’t have much time to touch the machine, even if you bought it. Just rent one from your neighbours for holidays!
Editor’s Tips: Rent cool accessories like Driving Wheels, and PlayStation VR headsets as well.
You save: HK$6,000 (vs. buying)
7. Traveller’s Backpacks
Travel in style by renting a 60L backpacks—especially if you’re going somewhere more adventurous (and fewer paved roads!) Choose from our incredible range of backpacks and travel equipments.
You save: HK$2,000 (vs. buying) … and TONS of space
8. Drones + Goggles
Awaken the pilot in you! Try different drone models and master your skills, from the light and nimble DJI Spark, to the professional quality Phantom 4. Rent for a video project — return when done!
Editor’s Tips: Check your city’s no-fly zones before you kick it off!
You save: HK$5,000-$15,000 (vs. buying)
9. Recording Equipment
Whether you want to record a song for a loved one, or shoot a corporate video for your company, you’ll soon fine out that the microphone on your iPhone just won’t cut it. Play it back, and you might as well be beaming in from the Space Station!
Editor’s Tips: Clip-on mics are great for interviews. For music recording, get a Zoom recorder.
You save: HK$12,000 (vs. buying)
10. Wedding Decorations
How many times are you going to get married? Probably just once! Every year, couples waste a ton of resources and money on things for the banquet: popcorn machines for their guests; props for Chinese tea ceremony; fog machines; Instant Photo stations.
Editor’s Tips: In the Gaifong mobile app, go to ‘Weddings’ section.