Photographer loses 20 photo shoots in an unfortunate car burglary

Sep 10, 2015

Liron Samuels

Liron Samuels is a wildlife and commercial photographer based in Israel. When he isn’t waking up at 4am to take photos of nature, he stays awake until 4am taking photos of the night skies or time lapses. You can see more of his work on his website or follow him on Facebook.

Photographer loses 20 photo shoots in an unfortunate car burglary

Sep 10, 2015

Liron Samuels

Liron Samuels is a wildlife and commercial photographer based in Israel. When he isn’t waking up at 4am to take photos of nature, he stays awake until 4am taking photos of the night skies or time lapses. You can see more of his work on his website or follow him on Facebook.

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Source: YouTube/KCCI

Backup, backup, backup – these are three of the best pieces of advice any photographer will ever receive.

Unfortunately for Iowa photographer Haleigh Wehr, her backup process was either lacking on non-existent, and the result is a devastating loss after her car was broken into on Wednesday night.

Items valued at thousands of dollars were stolen, according to KCCI, including two laptops and Wehr’s wallet, but the most painful loss does not carry a price tag – six memory cards containing over 20 photo shoots.

Thousands of photos of family portraits, weddings and newborn photos were gone, and Wehr had to contact each client explaining that they might never receive their photos.

“My stomach dropped, and I couldn’t believe it. I was just like, this cannot be happening,” said Brooke Wegner, one of the photographed brides. “If we don’t find those pictures, I won’t get them back, and I have nothing.”

“We have lots of family pictures, and I have a great grandma alive. We won’t get those back unless someone comes forward with it,” she added.

Luckily for Wehr her clients have been understanding in an time when many would be angry and seek legal action.

“There’s nothing I can do to make it better for people,” said the sad photographer, and while hindsight is 20/20 this unfortunate situation could have been easily avoided.

According to the video below, Wehr’s lost photo shoots were stored on the stolen memory cards, not on the laptops, which makes one wonder why she carried around sole copies of so many photo shoots. Giving her the benefit of the doubt that the laptops contained backups as well, and that the equipment was left in the car overnight due to forgetfulness rather than laziness, it is still obvious that a solid backup process including an offline backup would have prevented, or at the very least minimized, the lost moments (and probably future clients as well).

YouTube video

I’m not pointing out the weaknesses in Wehr’s backup plan to kick her while she’s down, and I ask that you don’t either, but rather as a reminder to us all to implement and/or perfect our own backups.

A similar incident took place in Vancouver last year when 2000 photos were stolen while a photographer was working at a wedding. In another case, this February a thief returned a stolen memory card once he discovered that it contained photos of a deceased infant.

If you have any information about the incident, please contact the Carroll Police Department and you could receive a $5,000 reward if your information leads to an arrest. If you’re the thief, you should probably just send back the memory cards as I’m not sure you’re eligible to collect the reward.

[KCCI via PetaPixel]

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Liron Samuels

Liron Samuels

Liron Samuels is a wildlife and commercial photographer based in Israel. When he isn’t waking up at 4am to take photos of nature, he stays awake until 4am taking photos of the night skies or time lapses. You can see more of his work on his website or follow him on Facebook.

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22 responses to “Photographer loses 20 photo shoots in an unfortunate car burglary”

  1. Jared Youtsey Avatar
    Jared Youtsey

    Well, DUH! Any photographer worth their salt (and their fee) should be backing up on a regular basis. I have three external 3TB HDs that I rotate between desk, work, and a fire-proof safe.

    1. Jared Youtsey Avatar
      Jared Youtsey

      And, beyond that, when I’m done with a shoot and I stop for dinner, etc, I take my camera with me until I’ve been able to upload into LR and backup to an external drive. Don’t ever leave your un-backed-up shots alone! Heck, I never leave my camera in the car unattended. “Don’t leave valuables in vehicle” sign isn’t for no reason.

    2. Ann Erikson Avatar
      Ann Erikson

      A fireproof safe is not heat proof. Store one drive off site.

      1. Jared Youtsey Avatar
        Jared Youtsey

        One drive is always at the office.

  2. Mike Randall Avatar
    Mike Randall

    Backup. Then backup again. And again.

    1. Stacey Creamer Avatar
      Stacey Creamer

      or just take the meory cards OUT of the car…at the very least. It’s not like it was 1 job it was many. We all make mistakes but come on…

  3. M Rick Richards Avatar
    M Rick Richards

    You left your laptops and memory cards and wallet in your car overnight? That’s a special kinda stupid!
    Maybe the theif will return the cards, or sell them back to her. Then she has to reimburse all her clients their money.
    Most cars nowadays have an inside trunk release, so all the crooks need to do is get inside the car to get into the trunk. When I went to St Martin, the rental car agency told us not to store valuables in the trunk as crooks had easy access to them…

  4. Stacey Creamer Avatar
    Stacey Creamer

    lame…no excuse for that many jobs left in the car

    1. a_eh Avatar
      a_eh

      I wonder how her clients took it when they hear about 20 jobs left without a backup in a car overnight. Would have loss maybe one or two jobs if she just downloaded at the end of a shoot day.

      Feel more sorry for the clients.

  5. Cave Art Films Avatar
    Cave Art Films

    Unfortunately it’s not uncommon. Get your SD cards out and into your jacket, ready to fight anyone. Worse for movie making?

  6. mike Avatar
    mike

    “forgetfulness rather than laziness”

    Wrong, that is both carelessness and laziness. How can you leave more than a single shoot worth of images in one place and not backed up, synced to a cloud/offsite, etc?

    Presumably this “professional” won’t be in business much longer considering how many clients will not be paying and what bad press this generates.

    I only have sympathy for the clients on this.

  7. Jason Killian Avatar
    Jason Killian

    Nope. No sympathy for that many jobs left on cards in the car overnight without backups.

    1. Ezzy Avatar
      Ezzy

      Yeah, I’m with you. Do NOT leave stuff in your car. Ever. Some areas you can leave your doors open, others you can’t, but it’s still silly to leave laptops etc. and not have backups…

  8. Theresa Stanton Avatar
    Theresa Stanton

    Backups! *face palm*

  9. Alex Minkin Avatar
    Alex Minkin

    It sounds like the cases of people in school ‘losing’ their medium format cameras with insurance on them

  10. Ralph Hightower Avatar
    Ralph Hightower

    I will leave camera gear in my car overnight, but that was only for the camera, lenses, and filters that I needed for a personal project photographing the full moons to get the lenses acclimated to the humidity or the cold. But I live in a rural area, not in a residential area of the photographer. Also, I put a new roll of film into my camera before my full moon shoots.
    I wouldn’t leave my camera gear in my car even if I were home unless it was for a purpose.

  11. Chester Kher Avatar
    Chester Kher

    It actually reflects how serious and committed is this photographer at work. Totally unacceptable, and a great lesson learned.

  12. Bordain Avatar
    Bordain

    I don’t ever leave my camera, lens or memory in my car overnight, no matter how tired I am. I will only leave my tripod. 20 shoots in a car is just total recklessness.

  13. Victoria Sur Avatar
    Victoria Sur

    20?! What the heck were they doing? How do you get 20 shoots without backing any up? Epic fail on their part… As I was always told “There are two types of people in the world, those that lose data, and those that back it up!”

  14. Shallon Dalybozyk Avatar
    Shallon Dalybozyk

    Everyone photographer knows to back up their bak up! And don’t leave any equip or electronics in your car!!! All I can say is wow

  15. Michael Goolsby Avatar
    Michael Goolsby

    We all are going to encounter losing images at some point, no matter how careful we are. But yes, this girl was downright NEGLIGENT.

    On the other hand, she is a self-described “enthusiast” with a Rebel and a kit lens. A shame the clients didn’t care to hire a genuine, committed professional.

    Am I bashing her for using a Rebel? Yes. With so many Canon models today sporting dual-card slots, and with virtually any new Android device capable of acting as a portable backup, there’s simply no excuse for losing 20 un-archived memory cards.

    Am I bashing her for only being an “enthusiast” (her own description)? Yes. She had 20 jobs in her pipeline. She was serving as a profession. She just didn’t conduct herself as one. Unfortunately, that’s common today.

  16. Brian Jarreau Avatar
    Brian Jarreau

    Loss happens from time to time- Minimizing that loss by ALWAYS backing up every shoot ASAP to two locations is smart, but sometimes takes a day or so – 20 clients! Including weddings… thats negligence I hope she has a iron clad contract and a lawyer. Also, I think someone is going to be selling their equipment soon…. is she a canon shooter?
    The only equipment that ever spends a night in my car are the light stands I don’t care how tired I am.