Photographer Aubrey Peebles of Macon, Georgia and her newlywed clients were devastated to catch a stranger fleeing the scene after allegedly stealing camera equipment during their wedding reception. The camera's memory card was full of images from their special day, and the thief got away with those photos as well as the photographer's gear.
A breaking news article briefly described how a burglar snuck in through a back door and made off with over $4,000 in a camera, lenses, and accessories. A friend of Peebles has started a GoFundMe to help recover her losses.
Due to the high price point and relative portability of cameras and lenses, photographers are commonly targeted for robberies. Below is a list of tips to keep you and your gear safe. Much of this is based on actual events by fellow photographers I've worked with.
- Don't operate your photography business without insurance. Property and liability insurance are both crucial for protection against the common calamities of running a business. Their costs are relatively low.
- Stay aware of your surroundings. This goes especially to travel photographers, who are frequently targeted. Don't let strangers distract you, and never leave equipment out of sight while you're sight-seeing or shooting. Thieves can be cunning. Some will sneakily take your camera out of its bag or case, and replace it with a brick while you're distracted. An experienced pickpocket or thief will rob you of gear and you won't even know it until it's too late.
- Be alert when loading and unloading gear. Try to conceal what equipment you can, ideally with unmarked bags and cases. A determined thief might observe you loading or unloading your equipment, then follow you to your next stop/home to rob your vehicle after you've exited it. This has happened to two photographers I know personally.
- When on a shoot, make sure to stow your backup camera gear in a safe location while you're away shooting. Out of sight is good, a locked or occupied room is even better.
- If you photograph vacant houses or find yourself often shooting alone at night, consider self defense or even weapons training (if legal in your territory). Learn the proper laws on how and when to defend yourself, should the need arise. Pepper spray is a viable option for those who are uncomfortable with defensive firearms, but be sure to educate yourself on and follow all local laws before carrying or purchasing any items of this nature.
On the subject of on-site image backup, senior Fstoppers writer Ryan Cooper tells us:
Simple — shoot to two cards, and one of those goes into a card wallet that never leaves your person. Prioritize shooting on many small cards (~8gb) rather than fewer large ones (64gb+) to ensure your risk is spread out.
What other tips do you have for gear protection? Please share them in the comments section below.