I was shooting a family formal portrait after a wedding ceremony at a church in Arcadia, California. My backpack was placed 3 rows from the front of the pew, to the side, along with my assistant’s camera bag. An outsider came into the church and then knocked over a flower vase that was filled with water. Everyone, including the bride and groom, myself and my assistant watched the commotion after hearing glass shatter. I then told the wedding couple it was time to get back to the family formal portrait-taking, because the church lady was rushing us…we were short on time.
It was within this short window of time that my assistant noticed my camera backpack was gone. I believe this crime was a two-man operation. One man created a distraction (knocking over a flower vase) and another one grabbed the loot.
My assistant ran up and down the aisle, frantically looking for the bag. We asked everyone if they’d seen it, in case someone accidentally grabbed it, thinking it was theirs. I thought the church lady might have taken while she was cleaning, but that wasn’t the case.
After 30 minutes of searching, I realized I had to call the police to file a report. We had to get ready to go to another location for another photo shoot. I asked my assistant to call the insurance company and file a claim with that company (Hill & Usher). My second cameraman was assigned to my assistant and I was lucky to have the second cameraperson on hand that day, because I was able to borrow his lens and batteries. I had to go home to grab more SD cards because I lost everything essential in the backpack. The wedding coverage went on like any other wedding I’ve done.
Despite the crime, I didn’t lose my client’s wedding pictures. If I had, I would have felt even worse. I was in the middle of a busy day of back-to-back wedding photo shoots and I was glad that I’d stayed up till 1 a.m. the night before, to back up the previous day’s wedding. I then put the memory back into my backpack, to prepare for the second wedding. If I hadn’t had backup, it would have been a disaster. I don’t know how I would have explained it to my wedding couple.
I’m also thankful that my insurance company (Hill & Usher) is so professional. The company covered me, minus a deductible. The company’s insurance agents are fast and professional, and they took good care of me. While it’s unfortunate that the thief took my backpack even though it was right next to my “second shooter” bag, I’m glad they took mine because at least I have insurance. My second cameraman (who is one of my best friends) doesn’t.
I have already started repurchasing camera equipment to get ready for my next wedding.
Photographers: be careful out there. You can be a target anywhere whether it’s at church, venue, or your car. Be sure to update your insurance, have someone to look over your gear, don’t leave unattended, get GPS tracker and alarm, use lock.
About the Author
Thien Dinh is a Los Angeles and Orange County wedding photographer. You can see more of his work on his website, Instagram and Facebook page. This article was also published here and shared with permission.