My extremely frustrating experience with Hasselblad USA: a review

Before Christmas, I was photographing tabletop with my Hasselblad H3DII-31 when I noticed something on my computer monitor. It showed me that there was something on the sensor. This is a common occurrence with medium format (MF) shooting, and one of the reasons why you should try to tether when shooting MF.

You spend more time cleaning dust and stuff off the sensor than with a DSLR.

When I removed the back to blow it with air, I noticed that the mark wasn’t the usual hair or fuzz, but a somewhat long scratch on the surface of the IR filter.

“SHIT,” I said.

I have owned my MF camera for over two years, and read often that it’s advised to send in the cameras for maintenance and repair. Thinking I need to take care of my baby; I mean, investment — I contacted Hasselblad repair in New Jersey to let them know I’m sending it in.

You must fill out a form and have it accompany your camera, stating the problem, your address, phone number, etc.

Seeing it was before Christmas and the turnaround time is around 2 weeks, I thought it would be an okay time to send her in hoping to have her back in early January.

I tracked the camera and it arrived around December 17 to their offices. I received no word that they had it. When I followed up, a woman named Maryann Murphy responded on December 22 and said they are having the camera reviewed and they’ll send me a report and invoice.

On December 23, they day I spent driving down to North Carolina, I received an invoice. The jargon on the invoice was confusing. I googled a few of the things they said they wanted to fix. I couldn’t find answers. So I responded and said thank you for the invoice, but can you clarify these points: “What is an “ACC door modification”? “What are zoom rollers and why do I need 6 of them?”

I got no response.

I followed with other emails.


I gave Maryann Murphy the benefit of the doubt. It was the holidays after all. Maybe she was out of the office even though I received no “out of office” replies.

On January 6, I reached out to my Hasselblad rep and told him what was up. He said he would call and have Maryann call me back. He called January 7 and she STILL didn’t follow up with me. He said he talked to her.

I called a few times, but only left one voicemail, as I didn’t want to stalk Maryann, but fuck, I should have.

Finally on January 8, well over twelve business days since they received the camera, Maryann responds with:

I’m sorry I have had no messages from you nor did anyone call or email checking on your repair.  I sent you the estimate and have been
waiting for your approval.  You can give me your phone # I will call you for your credit card or you can call me at the phone # below or
you can send it in  an email.

I responded angrily that it was (A) ridiculous and (B) that she should have my information on file and to use her information to call me! I mean, after this awful customer service, maybe try to do something right!

And the phone call. The phone CALL! Do you wanna know how it went down?

My phone rang. It was from New Jersey. I picked up, “This is Jeremy.”

“This is Maryann from Hasselblad. I’m calling to get your credit card.”

Frustrated, I told her the card, the number, the expiration.

“We’ll get your camera repaired as soon as possible,” she said.

She hung up.

Huh. The Ferrari of Camera companies doesn’t have enough customer service experience for a genuine voiced apology on behalf of the company? She can’t have a conversation with a disgruntled customer?

Maryann must be a robot.

You think that with a name and reputation as lofty and lauded as Hasselblad, they would go out of their way to make their customers and fans feel like a million bucks … because the price tags on these things are more than many cars, and the leases — if you’ve seen them — are so high.

This experience has changed the way I view Hasselblad … for the worse. And while I wanted to stay brand loyal and I was starting negotiations to upgrade my camera for a more recent model, I’ve decided to stop negotiations and explore other upgrades.

I think Hasselblad owes me an apology. But who am I?

Namely PhaseOne. But have you seen those Pentax 645Zs? I mean wow. If it weren’t for the sync speed on those guys, wow.


Twenty fifteen … hit the ground sprinting

Over the holiday, Tina and I visited my parents in North Carolina.

We drove down two days before Christmas. Usually we leave on or the day before Christmas.

We left on Christmas eve eve because my brother asked if I would make it to his Christmas program at his church. He was asked to take a regular Christmas carol and make it his own. He was excited about what he was going to perform and would love it if we were in the audience.

Check the recording I did below:

During the Christmas program, he took “What Child is this” and made it his own. He took it to a different, other worldly level that I’m not sure many are even thoughtfully capable of.

Artistry knows no bounds and my brother is not exempt from that truism.

I uploaded the recording and you can listen to it below. The video is of the video screen. I didn’t want to be that douche that holds up his phone during a performance. But I felt it was necessary to document the performance.

If you listen closely to the orchestration, it’s phenomenal. I wish it had better fidelity, but it is what it is.


What’s behind door number 3? Well, Pat … it’s a brand new car! 

One of our goals over the holiday was to look for a new car. Our car wasn’t in bad shape. In fact we loved it.

I decided about six months ago that instead of waiting for the car to wear out and become worthless, we should trade it against a new car.

The idea of waiting till your car is completely worthless to buy a new car is, quite frankly, a bad fucking idea.

So we came back with a Mazda CX-5. I’m not completely sold on this car. I like it, but don’t love it. I think the CR-V did a better job with using the space within the cab.

I believe we got a good deal on the car. After a day and a half of car shopping that includes the initial negotiations and bearing the sales tactics of car salesmanship, we ended up throwing up our hands in exhaustion.

Tina and i thought we were pretty savvily fighting the normal sales-guy pushiness. But we weren’t landing any deals.

We had a sheet of paper that had written negotiations on it. On it, we had an MSRP price of the car we wanted and all that one of the dealerships was willing to do for us, including how much they would give us for a trade in.

The deal on that piece of paper fell through as we asked for a price that the High Point dealer didn’t like. We took that same piece of paper to neighboring Greensboro. When a salesperson met us on the lot and went into a spiel, Tina stopped him and said, “Save your breath. We’ve been through this already.” Handing him the piece of paper, she said, “Here’s how far we got with the guys in High Point. If you can give us the deal, we’ll drive a new car off your lot. If not, we’re driving our perfectly good CR-V home next week.”

After credit checks and paperwork, and about two hours of sitting around, a sales guy came out and said, “You got it!”

And now … work work work! 

We had a nice visit with my parents and family, but we had to get back to Chicago to start work on a couple of video projects. We’ve worked every day since New Year’s eve, and will likely not break until the third week in January.

Artistically, I’m in a negative space about video production. Twenty fourteen was the year of crappy videos for me. We experienced growing pains as we developed our photography business, we let video slide a little. This was, in a sense, well worth it. I love photography. But my first love has always been motion picture.

So 2015 is the year of the video. Or at least, getting back to where it once was.

2015 is also going to be a year in which I pursue the art of being more mindful. It is, at the moment, what my plans are.

What are your 2015 plans and how will you keep them?

Another portrait of Jessica …


Before the holiday, Tina and I photographed Jessica, whom we’ve worked with before.

This particular test shoot was just that … a test. I experimented a lot. Especially with some ideas that I have tried, but didn’t feel good about. This particular shot came from part of the shoot when I wasn’t experimental.

This lighting setup is easy and Rembrandt-y. It’s a single light behind the subject with a reflector in front. I find it’s key to put the reflector up high rather than low. It’s one of the oldest setups I’ve ever used.

Camera exif was Canon 5DM3, 1/200th at f2, ISO 50.


Painting with light


Yesterday, we went into the studio with a young model we’ve worked with before. Her aim is to build a portfolio that she can show an agency.

When time permits, I’m always looking for people to shoot. And with this, I made it all about experimentation.

The above shot was painted entirely with a flashlight.

One of the weirdest parts of the image was that a red tone showed up in the streaks that didn’t show up in any other photo. I’m not sure where it came from exactly, but it looked pretty damn cool.

This particular shot was a 37 second exposure at f11.