Lens Pro to Go

By Romy Ashby

Lens Pro To Go's new office space located in Concord, Massachusetts.

Lens Pro To Go founder Paul Friedman displays such exuberance when he talks about his company that it’s hard not to catch it. And his contagious enthusiasm, coupled with an utter dedication to his calling, is what turned a good idea into the wildly successful business he runs today. 

When he began taking pictures as a hobby in 2003, Friedman was working in big business in financial and analytical roles that did nothing to make him happy. He discovered that photography was something he had a talent for, and that he loved doing it. He bought a Canon Digital Rebel, new on the market at the time, and learned to shoot by shooting. He indulged a voracious appetite for learning, started shooting weddings for money, ditched the corporate grind and launched a photography business. 

In the summer of 2006, a light bulb went on when Friedman noticed a lack of online gear rental services. “I wasn’t the first,” he says. “It was being done by one or two other companies online, but clearly it wasn’t being done well enough and I thought the demand was there. “ Working out of a spare room in his house, Friedman built a Web site and started buying gear—first just Canon lenses, then Nikon lenses, then cameras—and within a year and half, he had moved into a 5,500-square-foot warehouse. 

These days there is plenty of competition in the online gear rental sector, but Friedman is confident in what he has to offer. “If you’re looking for a Canon L lens you can get it from a dozen different places for roughly the same price,” he says. “But we will provide the absolute best service. This is really the foundation of our company. Whether you’re a soccer mom who first bought her first DSLR a month ago or a decades-long professional, we’re going to be able to talk to you and give you the best service.” Often the best service means the recommendation of a less expensive product over a customer’s first choice of a pricier item, if it’s going to get the job done. This kind of service is part of the company charm, and Friedman’s staff of highly knowledgeable pros is his edge over competition. “We are the only company in the U.S. staffed entirely by professional photographers and filmmakers,” he says. “Our employees empower our customers to do the things they need to do.”

Reflecting on his success, Friedman remains astonished. “I’ll be honest,” he says. “My only goal was to make a living at this, to stay out of the corporate world because I just couldn’t stand it anymore. “ He never imagined his company becoming a nationally recognized brand, immune to downward economic slides. But what pleases him most is the implicit trust of his customers, built on six years of impeccable service and advice. Nothing beats that.  “It was always my dream to own my own business,” Friedman says, “ and I couldn’t be more thrilled.”

Top Rentals

In the realm of Canon and Nikon lenses, the 24-70 28s and the 70-200 28s are highly popular items, being staples for so many different kinds of photography and filmmaking. The new Canon C-300 cinema camera is a big hit so far, and cinema gear for filmmakers, particularly from Cinevate, Zacuto and Redrock, is extremely popular. Another mark of distinction is how Lens Pro To Go ships rental gear: In Pelican cases. “We want it to get to you safely,” Friedman says. “And we want you to have confidence that when you go to ship it back to us—with the UPS label that we provide—once you latch that Pelican case closed, it’s safe and sound.”

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