10 Year Anniversary Celebration: 10 Things You Didn’t Know About BorrowLenses

BorrowLenses.com’s mission is to advance the photographic and cinematic dreams of our customers by delivering superior, cutting-edge gear and providing exceptional customer service. This has been our mission from the beginning and we strive to maintain it as we grow. We started from humble beginnings and the journey from 2-person side hustle to a 100+ person business on both coasts is interesting and little-known. Here are 10 fun facts about BorrowLenses to celebrate our 10th birthday (plus, we’re having a sale – scroll down for more)!

The Idea for BL Came from a Photo-Loving Mom

Mark Gurevich and Max Shevykov are the founders of BorrowLenses but it was actually Mark’s mom who came up with the idea. She was having a hard time getting what she needed from local camera shops and thought up a mail order solution with a greater availability of models.

Personal Life Savings Went into BL’s Inventory

Talk about bootstrapping! The founders pooled together their personal savings to fund their initial stock of lenses, which barely filled a bedroom closet. The original goal of the venture? Ample beer money and maybe a nice vacation. Little did they realize how fast the business would grow!

The Founders Didn’t Know Anything About Photography – But the Rest of Us Do

The founders were wading into an industry they knew nothing about but were smart enough to know who to hire. To this day, BL emphasizes the importance of hiring people who are passionate photographers and videographers. BL alum have gone on to work for ESPN, the Golden State Warriors, Red Bull, and more while many of our current employees have their own photo and production side businesses. Please explore our alumni and current employees’ work below!

One of Our Lenses Had a Stalker

It happens to the best of us – you rent a lens and fall deeply in love. What is that old saying about loving something and letting it go? Well, with rentals it’s required but not without a heartfelt ode. Read all about it in You Don’t Know Jack, the Canon 24-105mm Lens.

We Rent More Cowbell

Does more cowbell really make a shoot better (hint: yes)? Bruce Dickinson probably didn’t mean photo studio when he said “really explore the studio space this time” but when you have a fever, well, there is only 1 prescription for that.

Now with hot shoe mount option. Just request it in the notes of your order!


Our Gear Created a $150,000 Christmas Tree

4 super-teles, 3 pro bods, 2 lighting kits, and a partridge in a pear tree! Actually, a lot more than that went into this Christmas tree that was created after hours when not a creature was stirring (except the pitter patter of a time-lapsing shutter).

Google Isn’t the Only Company That Doodles

Our resident box artist Albert Facultad is now a successful freelance shooter but he used to break up his regular gear testing duties by taking art requests from customers! A few of these are still in circulation so you might receive your rental in a “Facultad original”. See more on our Facebook page.

Sadly, we no longer take artist requests (perhaps we need to refill this position) but that doesn’t stop us from going beyond the call of duty. When a customer asked specifically for ninjas with his order to “protect my lens on its journey”, we called in special forces…

Our First Theft Was By a Pack of Alligators

Ok, maybe “thieves” is a strong word. Opportunists. A customer rented a Canon 600mm f/4L IS, used it in Florida to photograph the alligators, and the worst happened: a faulty head (not ours!) broke off a monopod, snapping the lens off the body entirely and leaving the lens to roll straight into ‘gator-infested waters. The photographer had a damage waiver but it doesn’t cover loss. Solution? Hire divers, of course! The photographer retrieved the gear (sorry, gators) and we sent it to Canon for repairs (it was a total loss, as you can imagine). Below you can see us hilariously using canned air on a completely waterlogged lens. These were very early BL days.

Our Employees Helped Literally Build BL

From assessing the pros and cons of box recycling, to testing foam types and relaying suggestions and concerns of our customers, BL employees have a hand in influencing how the business runs on a daily basis. In the spirit of this involvement, we also helped with our physical build-outs, including the expansion of our west coast headquarters and moving into and updating our east coast office. BL has seen 5 distinct expansions: from the founders’ homes to a small office in San Mateo, CA, moving to a larger office in San Carlos, expanding that office, adding an east coast office, and, finally, further expanding the west coast headquarters. Have you been a customer from the beginning? Who reading this remembers our first office? Leave us a comment!

We Save All of Our Fan Mail

This list wouldn’t even exist without all of you – our customers. Over the years we have amassed thousands of love letters, accolades, photo prints, suggestions, concerns, and artwork and we save them all!

Thank you for being part of our lives and for making BorrowLenses a great place to work. Here’s to 10 more years of awesome service and providing you all with the gear you need to succeed in projects both professional and personal.

BL Roll Call – Recent Work from Alumni & Current Employees

Armando Armas
Rizaldy Celi
Kymberly Cortigiano
Lisa Czech
Mark David
Rico Deasis
Joe Ercoli
Albert Facultad
Elizabeth Friar
Lara Goetzl
Jim Goldstein
Vincent Guglielmina
Alexandria Huff
Kent Kessinger
Andrew Kim
David Lees
Vivian Liu
Mark MacLeod
Matthew Maniego
Thom McCallum
Courtney Newvine
Jessica Nichols
Josh Norem
Scott Roeder
Mark Shastany
Mike Sun
Jason Taylor
Ryan Tubongbanua
Alex Wong

 & to many, MANY others now working in other industries and art forms who helped along the way.

Also, a huge thank you for the video “birthday card” from a few of our friends!

While we’re counting candles, you can count your savings!

How it Works:

Use code BLTURNS10 at checkout and save…

• 10% off rental orders up to $200
• 20% off rental orders up to $700
• 30% off rental orders up to $1000

Expires 5/25/2017
(orders must be delivered or picked up by/on 6/3/2017)

Plus, if your rental period occurs over Memorial Day, you get Memorial Day free! No code necessary when your rental period spans 5/29.

Questions? Email us!

Fine Print: Discount code BLTURNS10 expires on May 25, 2017 at 11:59 PM PDT. Orders must be delivered or picked up by June 3, 2017. Not eligible for existing orders, For Sale items, Gift Certificates, Aquatech products, or BL Memberships. Orders with rental periods that span 5/29/17 will not be charged for that day. BorrowLenses rental orders only ship to U.S. addresses in the 50 United States and the District of Columbia. Renters must possess a U.S. credit card. This code is for rentals only, is not transferable, is not valid on items for purchase, and cannot be combined with other discount codes.

Alexandria Huff's photography and lighting tutorials can be found on 500px and her blog. See her lighting tutorials here. She is a Marketing Associate Manager at BorrowLenses.com. She learned about lighting and teaching while modeling for photographers such as Joe McNally and has since gone on to teach lighting workshops of her own in San Francisco. Before focusing on studio portraiture, she shot motorsports for X-Games, World Rally Cross, and Formula Drift. See her chiaroscuro-style painterly portraits on her website.


  • Irja Tannlund

    I <3 BL!! Congrats on 10 amazing years. I miss that little office on Peninsula Ave, but am so impressed with the company you’ve built, and happily refer you to new photogs regularly. You guys made it possible for me to use pro-level gear long before I could afford my own. Thank you for making my business possible, and for hiring a fabulous staff who always go above an beyond. xo -Irja

  • Dan

    Wow, great background into the company.

  • Mat Tam

    I just found out about your business today and I have the following idea

    idea – walk-in fee (to one of your location) – 2 hours – test any product you want during this time window. It allows photographers like myself to play around and test different products.

Post a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Get 20% your first rental with promo code BLOG20

Mirrorless, Medium
Format and more.

Anamorphic, Cinema,
Wide Angle and more.

Aputure, Manfrotto,
Profoto and more.

About BL

BorrowLenses is an online camera gear rental service that started in the San Francisco Bay Area in 2007. We offer a wide selection of camera gear ranging from camera bodies, lenses, lighting and accessories. We make it easy to rent gear by shipping your order straight to you.