Two trips in two weeks, and on the first day of each trip, I'd lost a camera. How did it all come about and where did it end?
I've written before about protecting your camera gear, including how to minimize the likelihood of having it stolen or lost, and then how to maximize your chances of getting it back. In fact, a couple of weeks ago, I wrote about losing the first camera and the lessons learned in terms of being able to continue shooting with a smartphone.
I'm very particular about the way I pack and travel. I use a standard messenger bag or rucksack so I don't advertise what I'm carrying, with every piece of gear labeled with my email address. I use a strap to secure the camera to me, try not to remove it unless absolutely necessary, and then visually check anywhere I've been sitting to make sure I haven't left anything behind. It's common sense that should be routine.
On the first trip to Vienna, I genuinely can't remember not having the camera (a diminutive Fuji M1). I can only assume I took it off when sitting on the train and left it on the seat. The camera and lens were labeled, but no one contacted me and lost property had no record of it. It was gone, and it took me several hours before I even realized.
The second loss was sadly quite similar, except this time, it was with my Nikon D700 and favorite Nikkor 85mm f/1.8D lens. I was waiting at a bus stop in Copenhagen and became paranoid about where I'd left my credit card holder. I took the camera and rucksack off and then stripped everything out looking for it. I couldn't find it, so I repeated the exercise without success. I looked up and saw the bus coming, threw everything back in the bag, and jumped on the bus. And in that moment, I picked up the rucksack, but not the camera. I realized my mistake about five minutes later, jumped off the bus at the next stop, and returned to the start, where I found an empty bus stop.
It was a heartbreaking moment, not least because the D700 and this camera in particular felt a part of me, an extension of my eyes. I phoned lost property for the transit company to find they only operate weekdays and that I needed to speak to each bus route individually. On Monday morning, I phoned the bus company, but nothing had been handed in.
As with the first camera, I was resigned to the fact that I had stupidly lost the Nikon. There was no one else to blame. Then, on Monday afternoon, I had an email from Nara saying she had found my camera in Copenhagen. Several emails later, it turned out that not only had she found it, she worked near London, had brought it back with her, and all I had to do was go and collect it! I was gobsmacked, elated, and relieved. A train journey the following day reunited me with my kit, along with profuse thanks to Nara (and a small gift).
There are a number of lessons learned from these two trips. Firstly, try to be in the moment. Every time you are in transit and particular when in transition, be cognizant of your surroundings and belongings. In short, be like a Buddhist! Try not to remove your camera gear, and if you do, always check a location before you leave it. Secondly, don't be distracted (as I was in Copenhagen). Not only is it a surefire way to lose track of your gear and what you are doing, but it is also a classic method for gear theft (as with Brett Costello's theft of $40,000 of gear at the Rio Olympics). Thirdly, labeling gear and registering it on gear sites (such as Lenstag) maximizes your chances of having it returned. Don't put off doing it (ask yourself now, have you labeled every piece of kit you would be upset at losing and do you have their serial numbers?). Fourthly, there are decent people around! In fact, I'd go as far to say that most people are decent. Don't let isolated gear losses persuade you otherwise. Keep faith in the world.
Lead image courtesy of The Digital Way via Pixabay, used under Creative Commons.