Photographer Reborn!

Imagine you lost all your photography equipment (including any camera phones), all computers, hard drives, and every photograph you’d ever made – whether a physical print or a digital image.

A complete and irreversible photographic system and hardware crash.

Calm down, it’s just a theoretical question.

But if this did happen tomorrow, how would you start again?

What’s the first camera you would buy?

What else would you need to start to store and share your images again?


For me right now the choices to reboot my photography seems simple. 

I’d buy a camera phone (either new or used, depending on budget, and probably a Sony Xperia Android) and install Snapseed and Google Photos.

I’d use Snapseed to set up a default black and white filter that I could apply to the photos I took, within the phone. Then have them automatically upload to Google Photos when you opened the app.

At some point, again depending on budget, the next step would probably be to buy an external drive of some kind to back up my photos.

Further down the line I might buy a ChromeBook, or a used PC notebook and install CloudReady to make it a ChromeBook, as I’ve done recently with a 2009 HP that’s been unused for four years. If budget allowed I might get a used MacBook instead.

But the core kit would be phone + Snapseed + Google Photos.

I don’t need anything else to get out, make photos, process, store and share.

If you lost everything photographic, how do you envisage your photography being reborn?

Please let us know in the comments below (and remember to tick the “Notify me of new comments via email” box to follow the conversation).

Thanks for looking. Please share this post with others you feel will enjoy it too. If you’re interested, this is what my photography life looks like right now.

34 thoughts on “Photographer Reborn!”

  1. Interesting questions Dan. I’ll pop back later to see what people have to say.

    I would definitely buy me a reconditioned photobooth, a scanner, install WordPress and away I’d go.

    1. Ha ha, not the first camera that came to my mind, but absolutely perfect for you!

      What are the ongoing costs of such a booth, do you know? Paper, chemicals, ink etc?

      And what would you access WP on, and plug your scanner into?

  2. Photographic reboot hey…?

    Simple really : Give me a RICOH GR1 or GR21 and some TX400
    I’m guessing I won’t be loosing my darkroom setup yes? #justchecking 😉

    I think it all comes down to what you were using when that light bulb moment hit you. What were you using when you realised that you really enjoy this whole photography thing, is going to probably influence your choices as to an equipment reboot. So I guess I will always default to a film setup. No right or wrong… just right for me 🙂

    Have a good’n Dan

    1. What if you did lose your darkroom set up too? Would you get your film developed elsewhere, or rebuild the darkroom?

      Your choice of camera doesn’t surprise me! If I’d have been into photography in the late 90s they would likely have been top of my list too…

      1. Hmmmm…… If I had no access to a personal darkroom, I would most likely use a public darkroom (a good one in Lambeth just a bus away), or end up creating another one for personal use. I still get as much pleasure from processing film myself. I have thoroughly embraced grain and it is a creative tool I use.

        If however, that was not an option, I’d probably end up with a digital version of the RICHO GR series camera and do post with software (not sure I want to go down the Adobe route again though). Not my ideal world, but it needs must!

        We are so lucky these days (compared to even a decade ago) with all these options open to us.
        Good hypothetical mate

      2. Yes absolutely, we have the best of both worlds, and a crazy amount of options with both film and digital to suit every budget and need.

        I would heartily recommend the digital Ricohs!

  3. Duplicating my current 35mm film hybrid setup would be prohibitively expensive. I’d buy a low end TLR, Hewes developing tank, CanoScan 9000 (best bang for the buck in a flatbed scanner by far), a refurbished last generation iMac and an inexpensive Epson Workforce printer (only low end printer with pigment ink).

    1. Doug, thanks for your input. Interesting the different extents people have taken their photography too, depending on type of camera, medium, whether they develop themselves, scanning, printing, and so on.

      I had one of those Canons, but the whole home scanning processing just wasn’t for me, I don’t have the patience or time!

  4. More or less the same setup as now: camera phone (possibly Huawei again, probably not a “flagship” model) + Snapseed. Cheap refurbished HP laptop, since I hardly use a laptop nowadays. And some storage device, although I have to admit that my back-up discipline leaves a lot to be desired.

    I just got a replacement for my broken Holga, but they cost close to nothing – so I would also replace the replacement 🙂

    1. Interesting how some are saying they’d replace what they have, or even a simpler version, and others are thinking of this scenario as a chance to upgrade and try some new cameras.

  5. Minolta a9 and Sony a900 (upgrading from present a850) I would be patient when looking for the right price, – meanwhile maybe something yet not experienced Pentax SP or Nkon F3 or Nikon F5, Leica M4…. hope this scenario doesn’t unfold…

    1. Marten, thanks for your input! Sounds like this scenario would give you an opportunity to try some new cameras rather than replace your favourites of what you already have!

  6. Dan, this is a really difficult one! I read your blog a few hours ago and have been thinking about it quite a lot. I’m a material girl.

    As you know, I own quite a few cameras, and over the last couple of months I have become increasingly happy with my “go to” setup: Nikon FM, F80, D50 and Panasonic Lumix GX7 + various lenses. I use an old iMac and iPad Pro as well, and don’t yet develop my own film because I’d rather wait until I have a scanner. I have my Pixel 2 phone, but to be honest I don’t really count it as part of my photography arsenal, because I mostly just take snapshots with it these days.

    Now, if I was to suddenly lose everything, with my finances being the way they are at the moment, there is NO WAY I’d be able to replace everything… man, I should probably get some insurance….

    I would only be able to afford perhaps one camera and one lens (like when I first got into photography!), so I would opt for the D50 again, and something like the Nikkor AF 50mm f1.8D lens, as 50mm is my favourite focal length, and that lens is a great performer but still affordable. My sister has my old PC so I would make her give it back lol (she has actually offered to give it back already). Sorted!

    If money were no object, or at least if I had more of it… I would definitely get the Nikon FM again, because #filmisnotdead, or something like a Nikon F2 which I have coveted for YEARS, and another mirrorless camera like the GX7. Does not have to be the exact same model, I am flexible; the most important thing is that the price has to be right. Even if I could spend more money, I would probably still opt for the elderly D50 as well, as I enjoy using it and I love what I get out of it without any editing required!

    So, basically, I would try to replicate whatever I’d lost 🙂

    1. I think for many of us a DSLR plus a fifty would allows us to shoot most situations for many years without feeling we lack options.

      The main progression for me (with cameras, and with my own preferences) is that we can get close to DSLR performance with a much smaller body like your Lumix, my Pentax Q and Ricohs and so on.

      I said in other reply it’s intriguing how some of us talk about replacing what we might lose like for like, and others would see this as an opportunity to try something new.

  7. Probably a sketch pad and some pencils. Har har.
    Sometimes I wish I could start over completely but this might be middle-age talking. Anyway, I would miss photos of friends and family. BUT, if I lost all my equipment, I think I would save up for the Fuji GFX-50. I’m not sure if I would keep my iPhone as a pocket camera or buy something like a Ricoh. Crap, does the loss of all equipment include my mobile phone? I probably wouldn’t replace the phone and just go for an APS-C compact.

    1. Marcus, well interesting you mention a sketch pad and pencils. My route to photography was via writing poetry which evolved into predominantly haiku, which in my eyes are almost the same as a photograph. So I started exploring actual photography with a camera too.

      Sketching is again a similar practice, another way of capturing something beautiful and interesting in front of us.

      1. I can’t draw. 😦 Thus the cameras . . . .
        I agree that poetry and photography are both ways of seeing things from a different perspective or perhaps in more detail.

  8. Given that I effectively DID reboot earlier this year, it’s hard to say that I would change a thing really, so I’d just get something similar to what I have. Between the Fuji and the Minolta and the few old lenses I’ve acquired there isn’t anything I’ve wanted to do that I’ve been unable to do. My frustrations if any are around my compositional skills and seeing rather than any technical limitations with the tools. Some good books and practice are more useful there rather than any specific kit, I think. I guess I’d be a bit miffed that I’d lost the pictures I’d taken that I liked though.

    1. Ps. One possible caveat. I’ve been dipping my toes into astrophotography and most of the software used for processing doesn’t much like Fuji RAW files. A cheap old Canon DSLR, might have been a better tool for that job, but there are work arounds and I wouldn’t want to lose the Fuji for general use anyway.

      1. I was looking the other day at how to remove the Bayer filter from a sensor and there’s a fair bit of documentation online. A lot of links led to astrophotography groups, and most photographers seem to talk about the Canon DSLRs, not necessarily the top end 5D etc, but the cheaper double and triple figure models. I think they’re very affordable these days and a massive range of adapters are available for shooting other mount lenses on Canon EOS bodies.

      2. Yeah. Those guys aren’t really hung up on the cameras much, if it has a 10mp sensor and some sort of live view they’re happy. The problem with Fuji is the lack of support for the non Bayer x-trans raw files in most of the pre processing software/stacking software. They’ll accept tiff files for the most part though, so there is a work around albeit a bit of a time consuming and hard disk hungry one. I don’t know. It’s a specialist thing that appeals to the nerd in me. To be honest if I were to devote any real time to it, any spare cash I had would probably be better spent on a decent telescope and just live with the workaround. I’ve got some nice results of the moon with an old 200mm Soligor and a 2x tele that I got for a tenner at the car boot, but for planetary or deep sky stuff I’d really need a bit more reach.

      3. Tony have you thought about a Pentax Q? I believe they have quite a following with people who photography birds and wildlife, used with the Pentax K adapter. Because the Q sensor has, I think, a 5.6x crop factor, something like a Pentax K 50mm lens gives a 280mm equivalent field of view. A 135mm K mount lens equates to over 750mm field of view!

        Read a bit more here –

        Might be an affordable option for getting more reach for astrophotography.

        Add an M42 to K adapter too and you have a huge range of dead cheap tele lenses available to you, which become super tele on the Q.

      4. It did occur to me, not in the context of astrophotography specifically, but as you suggested it occurred to me that for wildlife photography it would make a lot of sense. Not just because you can effectively use much shorter focal lengths, but because of what comes with the shorter focal length, depth of field.

        Anyone who has tried to take shots of moving things with a long lens will know that the biggest challenge is the very shallow depth of field. I’ve been taking pictures of a grass snake that patrols the borders of a local pond and getting manual focus can be an issue even with a 200mm (300m equiv). A 280mm lens with the depth of field of a 50mm (which is what you would effectively have), would be very handy indeed. Anyway … we’re expecting twins, so any plans to spend money are a fantasy at the moment.

      5. I’ve been considering it since I got my Q. The official Pentax version is close to £200 though. There are many better ways I could spend £200 on photography!

        There is an aftermarket one for around £25 that is a “dumb” adapter I think, and has no aperture control, so you can only use with lenses with manual aperture rings. Fine for all my M42 and some of my Ks, so I’ll probably get that first and see how well it works.

        Congrats on the forthcoming twins!

    2. I’m not generally an advocate of the “spray and pray” approach, ie making numerous captures of the same scene, all fractionally different, in the hope that one will be good. But.. Perhaps when we want to learn how to improve aspects like composition, an interesting exercise might be to shoot half a dozen varying angles and versions of a scene and then choose afterwards which we like most. This isn’t a long term approach but over a shorter period of time we would start to know more instinctively the compositions that give us best results. And then make that composition straight off, without needing to take all the variations then choose the best.

  9. Dan, if I had to start over I would buy a mobile phone, a small basic digital camera. I would load the first photos onto my new laptop and use the memory card on my new TV to view them on my TV. I would take cloud photos first of all and put them on my ceiling above my new bed xoxo susanJOY

    1. Sounds like a simple plan to get you well set up for making and viewing photos again. Yes our TV now has an SD card slot, but when I’ve tried in the past, the orientation never works for portrait pictures and it’s difficult to navigate between pictures. They look good that big though!

  10. I’d get a Canon F1-N and a brace of HP5+.

    That would keep me going (using mail-order processing) until I re-tooled with some Ilford Ilfotec DD-X, a generic stop bath and some Ilford Rapid Fix. Then a budget darkbag, and a Paterson tank with reels. Job done, ready to rock and roll again :o)

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