A Camera, Photography Books and Playing the Ebay Game

Flowers by the WWII Memorial by Mr.TinDC, (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Sophie has a dream: “I’d love to have a DSLR camera just like yours, Mum. I’d really like to take special photos with blurry backgrounds. I have a bit of money in the bank, but it’s not enough.” She sighs. “Cameras are so expensive.”

I have an idea. It starts with a lot of loose change which we gather from around the house. We count it. It’s an unexpectedly large amount of money. And then…

On Thursday: “Look, Sophie! There’s a second-hand DSLR camera on ebay. It has two lenses and comes with a camera bag.” It looks like a perfect camera for a 13 year old daughter.

“I’ll bid for it on Saturday night,” I promise. “Just don’t let me forget.”

On Saturday morning we set multiple alarms.

That evening…

8:30:00 pm: the alarms beep. There’s exactly an hour until the end of the auction. I open my computer. I sign into ebay. I find the right page. “No bids!” We all grin.

8:35:00 pm: “One bid…” The grins fade.

9:05:00 pm: “Two bids…” The grins disappear altogether.

“Don’t worry,” I say. “I have a plan, and if it doesn’t work, it’s just not meant to be.”

The minutes tick by.

9:25:00 pm: I type in my bid. I hover over the ‘enter’ button. Wait! Wait! Not yet…

9:29:30 pm:  Wait! 

9:29:35 pm: My heart is racing. My fingers are shaking. But I have nerves of steel. Now? No! 

9:29:40 pm: Yes! I click. I’ve joined the battle! Will anyone have time to bid again?

9.29:50 pm: “Mum! Another bid!” Will it beat mine?

9.30:00 pm: Mum! Mum! You won the auction!” We all grin.

“Did you see how I snatched victory in the last 20 seconds?” I do a happy dance.

“I bet they didn’t see you coming, Mum!”

“They must have thought they’d won.”

“Do you think they’re disappointed? It must be awful to be beaten at the last moment.”

I stop jumping up and down. For a few seconds I feel bad. But I didn’t really do anything wrong. I only played the ebay game.
Sophie can’t believe she’s now the proud owner of a DSLR camera. She is still grinning. She feels so fortunate.

By Thursday Sophie’s camera will be in her hands. While she’s waiting she’s been reading Tony Northrup’s book, How to Create Stunning Digital Photography.

It’s the best how-to photography book I’ve seen. It contains links to lots of videos produced by the author.

Sophie is looking forward to doing some more challenges from Steve and Carla Sonheim’s book, Creative Photography Lab: 52 Fun Exercises for Developing Self Expression with Your Camera.

And she wants to complete these online Snap Shot Delight Classes. 

“Can you do photography as a job?” asks Sophie.

“Oh yes!” I answer.

I can imagine Sophie as a photographer. That is if she doesn’t become a mathematician. Or a website designer. Anything is possible.

And dreams can come true. Sophie’s did. All it took was some money she saved, a lot of loose change, and a winning bid for a second-hand camera on ebay.

Do you ever play the ebay game?

You can also find me on my Stories of an Unschooling Family Facebook page!

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    • Vicky
    • September 7, 2014

    That's so exciting! For Sophie to have a great creative tool and for you to have have someone to share your hobby with. I love sharing hobbies with the children.

    I had someone pip me at the post when I was trying to buy a treadle sewing machine, a couple of years ago. I didn't know much about Ebay so I was disappointed but really it's just how auctions work, isn't it? I probably did the same thing when I actually won my sewing machine, about a week later.

    Looking forward to seeing Sophie's photos!


    1. Reply


      Oh yes! It's great sharing hobbies with our children. I like sharing them with a sister too!

      Sometimes expensive equipment is necessary to pursue a hobby properly. I'm so glad we found a way to make a camera affordable for Sophie. She is really going to enjoy it.

      It is so disappointing to lose an auction in the last few seconds. You can almost taste victory and then suddenly it's gone! But that's the way ebay works so I guess we win some and we lose some. I've won more auctions since I borrowed a book about ebay from the library and learnt properly how the system works. My bids were a bit hit and miss before that!

  1. Reply

    Oh, that's marvellous that you won the auction, how exciting! I'm actually looking into doing an online photography course at the moment, I'm frustrated that my photos are not improving enough. I hope Sophie enjoys her new camera, I bet she will be haunting the post office for her parcel 🙂
    As for the ebay game – no, not me! Too disappointing to loose or have the bids go to high.

    1. Reply


      I have learnt quite a lot by experimenting with my camera but I am sure Sophie will soon know far more than me. There are still a few options on my camera I'm not sure about. An online course sounds wonderful. You'll have to let me know more if you sign up for one. I feel I need more artistic skills. It doesn't matter if a photo is technically perfect if the subject is boring. I want to take exciting photos but sometimes I can't see my subject with an artistic eye.

      I always thought I'd never go near ebay, but I gave it a go because there was something up for auction I really wanted and couldn't get anywhere else. Once I tasted victory, that was it! Not that I buy much, but when I do, it's oddly exciting… until I lose!

    • San
    • September 7, 2014

    Dave plays the ebay game! Well done for winning the camera, happy shooting to Sophie!

    1. Reply


      My husband won't go near ebay. He gets me to do the bidding instead! I'm so glad I won this auction because it made Sophie very happy. She's still grinning!

  2. Reply

    Hooray! I have never played the ebay game and am pretty sure I wouldn't be good at it. But I'm thrilled to know of Sophie's new camera on the way!

    1. Reply


      While those last few seconds are counting down I wonder why I play the ebay game. It's much less stressful to buy things the regular way. But then when I win a bargain, it's all worth it! And it certainly was worth it to see Sophie's happy face!

    • Chris
    • September 7, 2014

    Absolutely love the ebay story!!!
    Your telling is perfect and to be honest, I thought you were going to lose out at the last minute! Sorry!! It was so suspenseful.

    SO happy she is getting her camera! Good for her!

    Love ya

    1. Reply


      Thank you for sharing my story and enjoying it too! The auction was suspenseful while it was happening. Of course we can never be sure we're going to win. Oh the relief when it's all over! It was all worth it though. Sophie couldn't believe it when I told her I'd won the camera for her!

      Love to you too! xx

  3. Congratulations on your winning bid! It was obviously meant to be! I will have to check Sophie's blog to follow along. I have benefitted so much already from your interest in photography, Sue. I got a new camera for my birthday – I chose it on the basis that there are lots of YouTube videos telling me how to work it. I was delighted with a few tricks I picked up (like how to take blurred background portraits using the zoom) but I commented to James yesterday that now I know what the camera can do, I need to learn more about what all the terminology actually means. I needed a photography book – and you have just shared the perfect one – thank you so much! I shall be excitedly following along with Sophie's (and your) hobby.

    1. Reply


      You have a new camera? How exciting! Youtube videos are such a great way to learn about photography. I hope you'll share your favourite ones. I started a photography Pinterest board. There's only a few pins on it at the moment, but I plan to keep adding my favourite resources.

      I remember the first time I took a blurry background photo with the zoom lens. I was so excited! I think I plastered my photos all over Facebook!

      I think you will like Tony Northrup's book. Each chapter has linked videos. If you have a tablet I'd recommend buying a Kindle version so you can move directly from the book to the videos by clicking the links. Very convenient! Sophie has been reading this book for the past few days, getting prepared for the arrival of her camera. It might come today, tomorrow at the latest.

      I am going to enjoy sharing photography with you. I shall watch out for your latest photos!

    • Wendy
    • September 8, 2014

    Congratulations! Mxyl is taking a college class on digital photography this semester (after reading lots of books) and a friend and I are teaching a class of photography and movie making for our co-op, too! My friend is a professional photographer, so she's working out lot of the class stuff for the photography side.

    It's so fun, though! I took some photography classes in college, and had a wonderful time – although I don't use the darkroom anymore, at least I know where all the Photoshop terms come from!

      • Wendy
      • September 9, 2014

      I forgot to mention that I had just put in an eBay bid on some swing dance DVDs the other day, and today I found out we won! I don't think it was quite as edge-of-the-seat exciting – I didn't even remember to check back on it… and I hadn't remembered it ended today. But for the 4 oldest Zoomlians, learning to swing dance will be very exciting!

    1. Reply


      I'm sure I'd enjoy your photography and movie making class. The kids in the co-op are very fortunate to have you sharing your skills!

      Winning an ebay auction without even realising is the best sort of win. Such a nice surprise and no stress! I think that's only happened to me once. Usually I have to fight it out with lots of other interested buyers.

      I'm not even sure what swing dance is so I will have to do some research. Sounds like a lot of fun though. Enjoy your DVDs!

  4. Reply

    Exciting story. I never bought anything off ebay, my nerves are not made of steel. I can totally relate to the photography-part of the story, as my som wanted his own camera just like me – we found one in a second hand market. And we have had many happy photography related moments since then.

    1. Reply


      How wonderful you found a camera for your son at the market. We rarely visit the markets but I know you love going there regularly. How are your soap sales going?

      Photography is such an enjoyable hobby. Sophie's camera arrived yesterday and she has already taken over 600 photos. She's having lots of fun!

  5. Reply

    I'm usually the one who gets beaten in the seconds…but I still enjoy the game…as I did your story 🙂

    1. Reply

      It's so disappointing to be the loser in the last few seconds. I guess it's the winning moments that make playing the game worthwhile. Thank you for reading my story!

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