Jim Colburn...Don't Ask 
Free Stuff
Way back, when I was a lad, during the 60's, one of the high points of every month was going to the news stand and buying the latest issue of Popular Photography, or its competitor Modern Photography. 

I could open those mags and have an out-of-body experience, travel to distant lands, use the latest high speed (64 ASA) slide film and play with the newest, coolest toys on the planet. After a few years it became obvious that the stories, well, tended to repeat themselves. 

Every three years or so Jason Schneider would "rediscover" the Zeiss Ikonta and proclaim it the finest camera ever. Norman Rothschild would take yet another Spiratone filter or doubler to some crappy little village in southern Mexico and make some pictures of poor kids with wide eyes and (thanks to the filter) eight heads. Herb Keppler was a man that NEVER met an accessory he didn't like or a zoom lens that wasn't damn-near as good as a prime lens (if only it didn't have a maximum aperture of f/6.3 it'd be THE PERFECT lens...) And Steve-The-Large-Format-Guy waxed lyrical about some old Goertz Dagor lens that had amazing "coverage" but was only available in a barrel mount from a small shop on the west side of Manhattan run by a near-sighted drag queen named Morty. 

But what great jobs they had. I wanted one. 

So when I started doing a little writing for this, the next generation in photographic publications (if the word publication is enough seeing as it's on the World Wide Web), I thought that my time had finally arrived. It was going to be like the good old days of rock and roll. Good drugs, easy women and FREE STUFF! I could even go without the drugs and women as long as I got the FREE STUFF! Camera companies were going to ship me things by the crate just to get a little free publicity. Cases of film would be delivered daily and junkets would be offered to small islands in the South Pacific, islands that offered the "right light" for some serious product testing. 

Well. It's started. But it's not what I thought it would be. Somebody in Florida sent me a camera strap a couple of weeks ago.  

A camera strap. 

A blue camera strap. 

With an invoice. 

I was supposed to "test" the strap for 30 days and then send it back. If I didn't send it back I had to pay the guy $20. 

For a blue camera strap. 


He's lucky he included a stamped, self addressed envelope...... 

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed are barely my own much less my employer's so don't blame Time Magazine, Time Inc. or Time-Warner for anything written here. If you want to blame someone I'd throw caution to the wind and finger the Tri-Lateral Commission and the world's central bankers. 

Jim Colburn 
(aka james.colburn@pressroom.com)

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