As a professional photographer working in Cape Town, South Africa, my goal is to ensure that my clients are happy with my work. This is the common goal of all photographers that make a living from photography as a permanent career. Anyone with an interest in photography and who owns a camera from social to professional gain, is aware of the costs involved in building the kit that will meet their needs and expectations. For this reason, I am inspired to advise and to share an experience I recently encountered with a so-called leading brand in photographic lighting that many of you have heard of, PROFOTO. I will get to this incident in just a moment.

Question and Research the Brand

Google, as well as direct word of mouth advice is great, and often provides the path and direction to making the final choices regarding the buying process. Obviously, it is your responsibility to initially know what you are needing to buy before you start looking at the makes, brands, models, and reviews. But, once you are certain and have a good idea, you can take the next step.

Visit a Credible Camera Shop

There are many so called electronic retailers that sell camera gear and lighting, however, you will sometimes encounter in store service knowledge that is not far from zero when asking about the gear. Do your costing and price comparisons, as well as the credibility relating to the store before you walk through the door. No one enjoys wasting their time, or being fed BS. You will also find that many a photography retailer will advertise a product, but has no stock. As the common excuse that I hear daily from my students at my photography school, as well as from other photographers in the field, is they are told Covid is the reason. What I find even more pathetic, is that only if there is a back order will there be a chance that you ‘might” receive your order within a 6 – 8 week period. To put the cherry on top, many suppliers require you to pay a deposit based on this unacceptable excuse for service and retail delivery.

I will share a recent experience with you when I visited Orms in Cape Town. For those that have not heard of Orms, it is the so-called “go to” for professional service and all camera gear. I required specialised re chargeable AAA batteries that are necessary to run my speed lights… not only did they not have stock; their suppliers had no stock or any clue as to when the batteries were expected. In fact, I was told “not our problem, scramble for whatever you can find”.  The reason I am sharing this story with you, is that I have Canon speed lights, a top brand that Orms continue to sell, but I cannot use them. This is sad and laughable all at once… So again, I stress, that you do your homework first, to avoid such things happening to you. Of course, Orms being so called “the credible retailer”, will not mention to you that batteries are not available when you splash out wads of cash to buy the speed lights for the job.

A final story that I believe you need to hear that I have saved till last, is my experience with PROFOTO. This is a top international brand that I use in my photography studio. Having spent in access of R100 000.00 on lighting gear, I was informed by the local brand ambassador, who I had to basically track down regarding batteries for my B1 flash heads that I replaced less than a year ago with generics from PROFOTO and told the following;

Firstly, no batteries are carried locally in stock as the local brand ambassador mentioned, although these expensive lights only operate on battery, batteries were not seen as an important item to carry… I find this rather embarrassing for such a brand.

Secondly, can you believe that PROFOTO batteries have a 7 – 10 day guarantee, again he insinuated that I might have dropped them in water while using them in a photo studio.  How humiliating is that excuse!


How can such an expensive brand have no faith in their product, carry no stock, no real guarantees and offer such bad and unacceptable service.

The moral of my story is that you can’t win, so buy wisely. Never judge a book by its cover, no matter what. Just like Orms being the retailer, PROFOTO, the supplier, we all have a chance of being shafted without compensation or recourse. There will be another sucker that will walk through the door. My suggestion is seek advice beforehand either through someone active in the industry, or, if you are starting out and attending a photography course or workshop, chat to your lecturer who will be able to assist you in making the right decision

Please do your homework first, money is tight and so is work, so spend it wisely and make the right choices first time around. please also note that this article is not directed in a negative way towards the above mentioned parties, but rather in a positive direction in the interests all photographers.