This high school kid bought a $20,000 RED camera

Jul 11, 2017

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

This high school kid bought a $20,000 RED camera

Jul 11, 2017

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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Dropping $20K on a camera something that most high school students wouldn’t consider. Hell, dropping $20K on a camera isn’t something most adults would consider, either, for that matter. But budding young filmmaker, Thad Swift, wanted to make a solid commitment to his career. And what better way to do it than buying yourself a RED Scarlet-W cinema camera?

And, no, it wasn’t bought for him, nor did he get any no loans. He earned the money to pay for it himself, doing what he loves, over the course of about 9 months or so. Making films. It just goes to show what you can do when you set yourself a goal and dedicate yourself to it.

YouTube video

It all started as a joke, with friends. Getting a RED before he graduated high school. But then he thought more seriously about it. After calling RED to find out some information, he was told that there was an 8-10 month waiting list for the camera. But it would be a significant upgrade from the Sony A6300 he was using at the time as his main camera.

It was August 2016 when Thad first started to think about it, which meant he would make his way to the top of the list between March & May, 2017. But this date kept getting pushed back, and he initially placed a deposit on the RED Raven.

Being a high school student, he obviously has the workload one has while a high school student. On top of this he was shooting and editing every spare minute for clients to bring in an income and raise funds. He felt that he was barely able to handle it, but he stuck with it.

Three months after paying his deposit, Thad switched out his order to the RED Scarlet. This would add an extra $5K to the total price, but Thad feels the extra benefit the camera offers would be worth it.

On March 13th, Thad received a call from RED to inform him he’d made it to the top of the list and his camera is ready. All it needed was for him to pay the balance. He paid that day. $12K for the body only. On march 24th, it arrived. It’s fairly common knowledge that RED don’t actually include a whole lot with the camera itself. So, he still had about another $8K in accessories to add. These would bring the total up to $20K.

They came in over the next couple of weeks, and Thad created an unboxing video to show it all off. He also includes some obligatory test footage.

YouTube video

What’s most amazing to me about all this, is that 2 years earlier, he’d never even shot for a paying client. But equally as impressive is that he managed to get the funds together for this in around 8 or 9 months while dealing with his final year of high school.

Some might say this setup is overkill at such an age, but who cares what they think? It’s his money, he can spend it how he likes. And it’ll certainly put him ahead of much of the competition when it comes to capability.

Whenever people ask me for camera recommendations, I always tell them to get the most expensive one they can afford. As long as it offers all they need now, it works. If it offers a bunch of stuff they don’t need yet, they’ll grow into it. That’s all Thad’s done.

It really is incredible what you can do when you put your mind to it.

[via FStoppers]

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John Aldred

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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24 responses to “This high school kid bought a $20,000 RED camera”

  1. Lee Ballard Avatar
    Lee Ballard

    MTL3

  2. Petar Maksimovic Avatar
    Petar Maksimovic

    That’s rather nice story. By contrast today even elementary school kids get dslrs just to have better social network profile pics.

  3. Ezzy Avatar
    Ezzy

    Age has nothing to do with anything in general.

    1. john doe Avatar
      john doe

      Right, just alive or not as HCB put it.

  4. James King Avatar
    James King

    Nothing.

  5. Jens Herbie Hatje Avatar
    Jens Herbie Hatje

    I didn’t have much money when I was in high-school. I still don’t have much, so I buy second-hand used stuff for cheap.

  6. Vusi Mduduzi Mhlongo Avatar
    Vusi Mduduzi Mhlongo

    Just the natural lense that came with my face…Could not afford a hand-held photographic camera body, let alone dreaming of using one at the time….

  7. Matija Potočnik Avatar
    Matija Potočnik

    Saw this on a couple sites now. Lots of high school kids drive cars way more expensive than that. Why is this a story, apart from highlighting how dedicated he is (almost as much as any wannabe future pro athlete) and/or is this just a RED outreach campaign.

  8. Michelle Smith Kerouac Avatar
    Michelle Smith Kerouac

    Olympus OM10. It was pretty sweet back in the day.

  9. catlett Avatar
    catlett

    “Whenever people ask me for camera recommendations, I always tell them to get the most expensive one they can afford. As long as it offers all they need now, it works. If it offers a bunch of stuff they don’t need yet, they’ll grow into it. That’s all Thad’s done.”

    I don’t do that at all. I tell them to get something that will get the job done within the system whose glass they want to buy. Buy good glass it should last through several bodies if you treat it right. Cameras evolve much faster than lenses and a brand new user isn’t likely to grow into a D810 (sub in whatever Sony, Canon, etc) before a new generation or 2 comes along.

  10. Dave Bender Avatar
    Dave Bender

    My dad’s Yashica.

  11. Duane Loveland Avatar
    Duane Loveland

    A Yashica 35mm.

  12. Corey Hutton Avatar
    Corey Hutton

    The camera doesn’t make the filmmaker. In a few years he’ll be using that to film weddings to make ends meet.

  13. Rob Hall Avatar
    Rob Hall

    So what.

  14. Basia Kowalska Avatar
    Basia Kowalska

    Pentax K100D ? still my favourite though. If they had more third party support and anything besides entry models, I’d still be using it. So much more durable than anything Nikon, Canon, Sony crank out

  15. Adam Lenz Avatar
    Adam Lenz

    Panasonic dvx 100 ftw

  16. Clayton Young Avatar
    Clayton Young

    Hand me down pentax k1000. Kids sure do have it rough these days.

  17. Mark Niebauer Avatar
    Mark Niebauer

    IS this kid a drug dealer or what?

  18. Michael Hickey Avatar
    Michael Hickey

    He got a camera. Takes THOUSANDS of more dollars in accessories, lenses and misc stuff to make use of that camera effectively. He’s in a money pit now, hope he can pay it all off.

    1. Lundeful Avatar
      Lundeful

      The 20K included accessories. Ofc he will have to buy more, but with that camera he can either do more shoot gigs or even rent it out.

  19. Sid Avatar
    Sid

    I wish i could make enough to have 20000 in 9 months.. sigh….

  20. Aankhen Avatar
    Aankhen

    That’s a great story. He set a goal, worked towards it, and achieved it. Bravo!

  21. Eloise Avatar
    Eloise

    I don’t know this kid… but as a high school student if they can earn money almost 100% of that is disposable income. It’s as an adult we have other draws on our income…

  22. Eloise Avatar
    Eloise

    Easier as a high school kid. Can save pretty much all your income to something like this. As an adult with responsibilities you have rent/mortgage, food, healthcare, etc. drawing on your resources / income.

    Good on the kid for having the dedication though…