Theft and Loss of Camera Equipment

I've just been reading a story on a US website about a spate of thefts of high-end DSLRs from wedding photographers in Salt Lake City. Apparently, thieves are following photographers and then stealing kit from their cars once the car is unoccupied. The photographer in the story was unlucky enough to loose all her gear, laptop, hard drive and Compact Flash cards! Which also meant she'd lost all the valuable images from the wedding.

I may be over cautious, or even paranoid, but whenever I shoot a job, whether it was in the days of film or now digital, I ALWAYS, without exception take the media with me when I leave the car. As professional photographers we have a duty of care to our clients to protect our images of their special day, event, products or whatever.

These days I copy my Compact Flash cards to an Epson P3000 storage device and whenever possible an external hard drive via my MacBook. If you must take your laptop with you to a job, make sure that any valuable data is backed-up and stored elsewhere, or better still don't keep critical or valuable data on any device that you remove from your premises. My hard and fast rule is simple - make sure before you leave a job that the image or video data is backed up to two devices in addition to the original Compact Flash or other media cards.

When I'm working I use a Think Tank Photo Pocket Rocket to store my Compact Flash cards. Each card is individually numbered and contained in its' own pocket. My workflow is simple; make sure that all the Compact Flash cards have been erased or formatted in the camera in which they will be used before you start your shoot (this will save valuable minutes when working); all cards are face up in the Think Tank Photo Pocket Rocket before I start work; as the day progresses the cards are returned to the respective pocket once copied to the Epson P3000 with the numbered side now visible. This work flow will reduce the possibility of accidentally loosing your valuable images.

Once the job is over (given time, but if there's tight deadline, this isn't always possible) I find a quite corner and copy each Compact Flash card to an external hard drive via my Mac Book, returning the Compact Flash cards Think Tank Photo Pocket Rocket with the numbered side uppermost.

Think Tank Photo Pocket Rocket is then placed in my pocket along with the external hard drive and doesn't leave my sight - for whatever reason.

Something we also need to consider is the security of our gear when stored in our cars. If like me you have an estate car you must ensure that your gear is covered at all times. My vehicle has a manufacturers sliding cover over the load area, which I've covered with some reflective sheeting to reduce the temperature when left in the sun. The manufacturers covers are better than old blankets as they give no clue as to the contents. Blankets take on the shape of the cases underneath. Also consider securing your bags to the load securing rings if you have vehicle with these D shaped rings or other fixings. Think Tank Photo have introduced the Airport Security v2, International v2 and Airport Airstream roller cases with added lock and cable features. Also, these cases have the added benefit of allowing you to move your gear in style without a cumbersome backpack or shoulder bag.

And finally, insurance. I can not stress the importance of having the correct cover for your gear and business. Whilst cover may not be cheap, in the event of a loss it can save you a lot of stress. You'll need All Risks cover for your gear and Professional Indemnity cover in the event of losing images. There are many good insurers in the UK. Two that come to mind are Towergate Camerasure and Aaduki Multimedia - both of these insurers in my experience understand the professional market and provide the appropriate policies.

Epson P series storage devices may be purchased from Park Cameras.

Think Tank Photo bags are available from Snapperstuff.

And lastly, you'll never see me do a "What's in my bag?" on this blog or any other website. There's no better way of telling potential thieves what gear we own. If anyone wants to know about the gear I use, either get in touch or participate in a photo walk or workshop.

Remember, look after your gear and it will look after you.




  1. Nice blog.. Im not sure that you are able to help me, but Im currently looking into the Epson P-3000, but im unsure if the raw files of my 5d MK2 will work on this device (there seems to be no official word on it).


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