After spending years building up his fortune at Gordon Brothers Group in Boston, the American millionaire Bobby Sager, who is also a photographer, has spent more than a decade giving his money away. At the opening of his photography exhibition at The One Fusion shop in Dubai on Sunday, Mr Sager, who is also chairman of the photographic equipment company Polaroid, told The National which brand of camera he uses professionally and why his philanthropic work is not as selfless as it sounds.
q: How is Polaroid still relevant in the digital world of today?
People nowadays take 100 pictures and decide after the fact what the picture is. That trivialises the moment. For the Polaroid picture, you really think about the photograph you're taking and tune in to the moment. In this age, your photos reside somewhere in your computer and you never see them. And [Polaroid] makes it not just real but tangible.
q: But you don't use Polaroid cameras in your professional work. Which cameras do you use?
My preference is Nikon cameras. And I find that they are not quite as precise as Canon and some others. But I still feel like they are more descriptive.
q: What other technology do you use?
I've actually never used a computer in my life on purpose. So I've never sent an email or received an email or Googled anything.
q: I don't believe you. Seriously?
Never. Not once. It was a conscious decision. First of all, I have the luxury of other people doing that sort of thing for me. And it's very much a two-edged sword: people get kind of consumed by it; it makes you more efficient but you also waste a lot of time. Instead of kids reading books and engaging with their surroundings, they're playing computer games and endlessly sending silly text messages.
q: The bulk of your time is spent travelling the world with your family for your philanthropic work, which includes an empowerment programme for Palestinian women. Explain your declaration: "Be selfish, go help someone".
By living around the world and sleeping in tents, and being cold and being hungry, and living this really difficult life, we simultaneously are getting to live an incredibly full life. What I'm trying to say with the quote"be selfish, go help someone" is that they're not at all mutually exclusive. In fact, they leverage one another.
q: How much of your money have you given away?
I could spend the rest of my life giving my money away. And that's what I intend to do. Every penny that I make from Polaroid is going to be given away.
q: Is it true that you once bought a meteorite?
Yeah, I did. I just thought that, for my kids, this idea of this thing that comes from a zillion miles away, and is a zillion years old, gives a context to who we are and what's going on. So many times the problems you face on a daily basis become such a big deal. We need to have some context about our challenges, what we have and what we don't have.