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Lensbaby: The Very Beginning, Part 5

  • 2 min read

Lensbaby History - Part 5

Craig Strong, Lensbaby Chief Creative Officer & Co-founder, reflects on the story behind the very first Lensbaby lens. Craig's creative, outside-the-box approach to photography has resulted in unique tools for photographers all over the world.

This post is part 5 of a story that Craig Strong originally posted in the Lensbaby Unplugged Facebook Group. If you'd like a recap, part 1, part 2, part 3, and part 4 are also on our blog.

Happy 14th Birthday to Lensbaby! February 23rd, 2018 was the anniversary of the 3-day WPPI trade show in Las Vegas where we sold out of everything we had brought-- which was nearly all of what Sam Pardue and I thought would be a one year supply of lenses for this little side business called Lensbaby.
camera tradeshow people taking photos selective focus Lensbaby history craig strong WPPI

Here's how it unfolded:

1. we hired Bea and Peggy Dyer, the original Lensbabe Beta Tester Extraordinaire's mom, to take orders so Sam and I could demo our lenses
2. shared a tiny 10 foot by 10 foot booth with Kevin Kubota who was there promoting his amazing Digital Bootcamp
3. came with twelve lenses to show (there was confusion from the manufacturer who thought we were just showing, not selling at the show)
4. late that first day, our assembly guy, Marvin, flew in on a last minute ticket from Portland with big heavy boxes full of aluminum, glass, paper product boxes and our special vacuum cleaner hose
5. stayed up until the wee hours the night between the first and second day of the show with Marvin assembling lenses from the parts he flew in with
6. sold out of those by 3 p.m. the next day
7. formed an entire assembly line in my hotel room that night with Joni Shimabukuro, Peggy Dyer, Sam, Marvin and me
8. arrived at the booth the final day to find a line of people who had been told by their friends who'd bought a lens the previous day that they had to buy a Lensbaby
9. sold out in two hours
10. a shuttle service run by early Lensbaby photographers, including Joni Shimabukuro and Peggy Dyer, came up to my room to get a handful of lenses I had built and packaged for the photographers who had bought a Lensbaby and were waiting in another line for them to be delivered to the trade show floor
11. in all this craziness, we forgot to document this very first public event, and the only images we made of that first trade show came from the demo cameras that potential customers were using to test out the lenses (shot with my cameras so I claim all those photos as mine-- no lawsuits, please)
12. when it was all said and done, we had sold everything we'd brought and the remainder of our inventory back in Portland was sold out within two weeks
man with brown hair white collared shirt taking a photo with a finepix camera lensbaby history
Thanks for reading yet another chapter in the Lensbaby story. Stay tuned for more!

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