Viewpoint Michael Topham
Camera theft is a serious issue and one we all need to be more aware of when going about our work as photographers
One day recently I was utterly shocked to receive an email from a close friend telling me of a theft at his sister’s wedding. A church is one of the places you’d least expect thieves to operate and steal someone’s belongings, but in the case of my friend that’s exactly what happened. It turns out the bridesmaids used a quiet area at the back of the church to leave their bags and personal items – including phones and cameras. Little did they know that a few minutes later, during the service, someone would sneak in and steal all their personal belongings.
This alarming incident got me thinking about how I operate as a wedding photographer. I like to be well organised at every wedding I shoot, so rather than rushing into the church in a hot sweat carrying bags on both shoulders, I tend to drop them off at the back of the church in good time before the bride walks down the aisle. In the past I’ve never really given this a second thought – my kit is out of the way of others, it’s in a good place for changing lenses quietly if I need to and it’s in the prime place for making a swift exit from the church ready for the confetti shots that usually follow. It’s this quick escape route, combined with the fact that I’m often found shooting with my back to my bags, that makes me extremely vulnerable to having my kit stolen.
Although my kit is insured, the inconvenience and sickening feeling of losing my lenses on the day of a wedding and being limited to just the two optics coupled to my two DSLRs would be a hard pill to swallow. Needless to say, my way of working has now changed. I now operate with my kit in one roller that’s kept within view at all times.
Researching the subject of theft at weddings has highlighted a serious issue, and what seems to be a rising crime. The key thing to remember, of course, is that while cameras and lenses can be replaced by an insurance claim, the precious images from someone’s special day cannot. I never risk taking my cameras off my harness system until the day is complete. It’s sad to say, but unfortunately we live in a world where a photographer who leaves his or her kit unattended is just asking to have it stolen. We all need to be a little more vigilant and aware of our surroundings.
Insurance may cover your kit, but once-in-a-lifetime images like these are irreplaceable