By Jessie Parker
It’s a sad truth that we live in a world where not everyone can be trusted. Everyone knows this, which begs the question- why do I so often see photographers being so careless with their equipment and their own safety while photographing weddings? It’s easy to become so focused on your work that you forget that the usual rules of safe conduct still apply even though you’re completely mentally wrapped up in the work in front of you. Here are a few simple ways I try to keep myself (and my equipment) safe on the job.
1. Be Careful of Where You Park.
Don’t park illegally, obviously, but also try to avoid spots that are poorly lit or are next to blind alleys or other such places where someone could hide. Remember that it might be a sunny afternoon now, but you could be coming out in the gloom of 1:00 a.m. Keep that in mind when you choose a spot.
2. Don’t Leave Valuables Visible in Your Car.
Lock your camera bag, laptop, purse- whatever you’ve got- in your trunk, if you have one. If not, toss a dark colored (preferably a grubby looking) blanket on top to camouflage your stuff. A lot of people will probably think that’s obvious, but you wouldn’t believe the number of times I’ve had photographers shadow me on a wedding shoot and they’ve tried to leave their camera bag and/or purse just sitting on the passenger seat. That’s just asking for trouble.
3. Keep Your Camera Bag Where You Can See It.
A few years ago, a bunch of photographers had their camera bags stolen during church wedding ceremonies. Someone would just walk in off the street, casually grab the bag, and run out. Don’t make it easy for them. Never put your bag too near the door (this goes for the reception too) and always put it where you can see it. If you feel like you’re in a particularly dodgy neighborhood and you have an assistant with you, make it their main job to watch your bag during the ceremony. Better that you miss out on a few minutes of extra help than you lose thousands of dollars worth of equipment in the blink of an eye.
4. Don’t Leave Your Bag Open.
For goodness sake, just zip your bag up. I know a photographer who used to leave his bag unzipped and totally open, not only during the ceremony, but during the photo session, and even the reception. Don’t be that guy. An open bag is an invitation. Even things in the visible mesh pouch on the outside of your bag can be fair game to a thief. During a ceremony at a catering hall, someone stole a set of hex keys off of the front of my bag. It was there one minute and gone when I came back. Why would anyone take those? They were worth about $3. Some people will just steal anything they see, so again, don’t make it easy for them.
5. Be Aware of Your Surroundings.
You should always be aware of your surroundings when leaving a venue, especially late at night and even more so if you’re alone. Have your keys ready. Get to your car, load it, and get in as quickly as possible. Getting mugged would be an awful way to end your day. As an added insurance policy, I always try to take my memory cards out of my camera before I leave, so if someone did try to steal my camera, at least I’d still have my photos.
Take simple precautions and you can minimize theft. For more photography tips, click here.
By Jessie Parker