It’s an old Hollywood trope. Who gets the last parachute on the doomed airplane? I say we go full Oprah. Everyone gets a ‘chut.’
Parachut is embracing that mentality with the upcoming release of its endless photography subscription service. $149 per month for endless gear swaps. You get to try before you buy and expand your creative horizons.
We can all agree photography is an expensive hobby. It’s the nature of the beast that will have you camped out on slickdeals and various deal sites to see if a certain lens or camera body is getting a discount.
Hey, it’s the worst to buy a lens full price and then have Amazon decide it feels like creating an entirely new Black Friday event because they can.
Parachut refers to it as G.A.S. or Gear Acquisition Syndrome. Let granny explain it to you:
Exploring Photography With a Prachut
Think you want that Nikon? Parachut wants you to give Leica a shot. Or a ‘chut.’ The nature of any subscription box service is that it’s about offering products you might like. Instead of balling up products and throwing it against the wall, Parachut opts to listen to the customer.
Before reserving a spot in the beta program, users are prompted with a questionnaire. Are you new to photography? Interested in digital or film? What about videography? It all gets compiled into their database and forms what they send you.
A millennial who has never had the joy of waiting for Walgreens to develop a roll of film? Your drop may look like a Rolleiflex 2.8F with protective leather case and various Kodak, Fujifilm and Lomography 120/220 film samples. Trust me. When you’re taking pictures of your dinner, pulling out a Rolleiflex will create more friends than your Instagram feed can handle.
Other example chut drops include a DJI Phantom 4 drone with a protective backpack. Yeah, if you get this ‘chut,’ you’re in for a treat. I love my Phantom 3 Pro and reviewing the Phantom 4 was an absolute blast.
Already have a camera body and looking to expand your lens collection? An example is the Canon 300mm f2.8L. Videographer wanting stabilization? A chut example would be a DJI Ronin-M in a hard case.
Shipping and Endless Swaps
The $149 per month covers shipping both ways. Had your fill of the Phantom 4 (are you human)? Back into the box with the prepaid shipping label and on to your next chut. The monthly fee covers endless swaps and targeted education for each piece of gear.
Using the Rolleiflex example chut, the education part is critical. We are a world of touchscreens. That camera doesn’t know what a touchscreen is, and that’s the point.
Sharing a Parachut With Melissa and Phillip Niu
I had a chance to sit down and talk Parachut with the duo behind the company – Melissa and Phillip Niu.
Any plans to introduce insurance against the inevitable drops and oops moments?
Absolutely! We call it the Parachut Protection Plan.
What sets you apart from the major players in the industry like Lens Rental?
Parachut allows members to pay a monthly subscription to be a part of the club. Other rentals charge on a per unit basis for a limited time. If your membership is paid, members get endless swaps of gear. This gives them the opportunity to try endless items on their wish list for a low monthly subscription. Buying and even renting can be expensive. That’s why we’re not a rental company.
Parachut is a gear exploration company giving creatives the opportunity to create freely without the barriers of cost. There are also many reserved members who are starting out in photography who don’t know exactly what gear is best for them and are needing the help of our experts to send them things that fit their preferences.
Can you dive into the background of you and your husband?
We love working together, always have. We are both former collegiate athletes, so we’re used to team drive and competition. But the last few years have taken us on different paths and we wanted to get back on the same project. I started out in Broadcast Journalism and Marketing for NBC, Fox Sports which led to a marketing position at the Seattle Seahawks.
Philip has been taken all over the world in various fields of marketing and strategy. We decided to combine our efforts and create something bold. With my love of photography and his strengths of marketing, we knew that something had to change for the photo industry to improve and create more opportunities for future creatives. We’re not afraid of a challenge, and we are thrilled to tap into a market that has so much potential for improvement and disruptive change.
Parachut strikes me as pushing creatives outside of their comfort zone. What do you want photographers of all stripes to get out of the club?
Parachut is designed to allow creatives to comfortably create with unlimited options. We want to give creatives the choice to choose for themselves. We want digital artists to feel open to analog choices and vice versa. We want photo creatives to have the options to implement pro video. We want to help members learn how to use the gear.
We don’t want creatives to feel stuck. We want an endless supply of choice. We want them to try something they’ve always been dying to try but point the lens at something that inspires them instead of pointing it at the retail store wall.
What inspiration does Parachut draw from subscription clubs?
When diving into the model of Parachut, we absolutely looked at the success of Netflix, Dollar Shave Club, BirchBox, etc. Each of these companies had to educate future customers in a brand new way of acquiring and consuming a product. We want to help both the manufacturer and the consumer. If our end goal means we’ve helped customers get their hands on gear that ups their creativity game while also helping the manufacturer get their products into more hands, I think that’s a win-win.
One ‘Chut. One Location. Tell us your dream location and gear?
Oh man! Tough question.
Philip: A DJI Phantom 4 with an Osmo, circling his own backyard mountain, Mount Timp, on horseback at sunrise or grabbing some underwater housing while taking an ocean dive near his hometown of Laie, Hawaii.
Melissa: This is seriously hard! A Leica M traveling through Europe. An Olympus PEN-F on the streets of Paris. A Nikon D810 shooting my kids running through the Swiss Alps. A Pentax 645Z shooting a gorgeously styled model in the hallways of a timeless castle. I can’t answer that one.
That’s half a warehouse of chuts, but I get the point. It’s hard to say one camera, one spot. Pick. Me? I’d ask why I couldn’t pack the entire plane full of gear with an around the world plane ticket.
Parachut is currently in its beta. You can join as a founding member today for $149 and expect to start receiving chut drops in the Fall. The $149 is a one-off reservation that goes towards your first month when the company starts. Once it opens up, the price is month-to-month with the ability to cancel at any time.
Look for our review of the service as it closes in on its launch date and let me know what you think of a subscription box service for photographers.
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