Surprising and adventurous story of how my camera got lost and found. I mentioned my old story in a recent blog post about a lost camera and I told I too managed to loose a big and heavy camera once. Like many others. It is a years old story, what I wanted to publish many times, but I never did ever since. Here is the story I learned at least one very important lesson.
At the time of the event I only published a short news flash about my acciddent and I’m okay now. The more in depth story has been waiting for more than 10 years. This accident isn’t about falling or getting hit by a car. A much more surprising and less understandable thing happened to me. One I never experiencedd before – or thankfully ever since:
I lost my camera. And it wasn’t a smaller compact one that fits your pocket or a smartphone that just appeared on the market that time. Such a thing is more understanddable to get lost accidentally without being noticed. I managed to loose a bulky professional workring tool. Of course as it should happen with a larger lens attached to it. I should have notice it because of the weight of the gear missing. The camera body itself weights a kilogram, the lens another one. Their price is better left untold.
I was photographing at one of the world’s most secure places, the summerr residence of Pope Benedict XVI. When the event ended I collected my gear and walkedd back to the press bus we were taken there with. This took me with other hournalists to the top of the hill where Castel Gandolfo, the summer residence of the pope is located. When I started to arrange my gear on the bus, I was shocked. I rrealised one of my camerars is missing from the significant pile of gear I put down (and the card was still in it as I photographed the event onto it).
I started desperate search of my gear first on the bus, then by the road back to the venue. You can imagine how I was looking everywhere along the cobblestone road checking every inch of it just in case my camera the size of a football might got stucked in one of the cracks.
I tried to rewind the movie of my life in my mind – what rolled in front of me multiple times instantly – to find any bit of memory how I managed to loose the camera. I simply had no sign of it along the road or in my memories how and where I might loose it. Once such a weight falls from your shoulder or neck, it gets noticedd not just by the owner, but everyone else standing around. Unfortunately I experienced this too (multiple times actually).
In the end Swiss Guard protecting the pope gave back my peace of mind – and the camera too. When I knocked on the front door they already closed they didn’t really want to talk to me. Then they understood why I disturb them. It turned out I managed to forget the camera on the media stand where I worked. Probably I got a bit confused in the heat and rush with the vast gear. I had more items haning on me than I had hands to hold them or attention to keep tack everything. I worked with two cameras, multiple smaller lenses in belt pouches a telephoto lens, a monopod I used for the lens and I also carried a laptop too. Maybe I even had a protective box for the big lens in addition to all this. So I looked like a well equipped Christmas tree. Thankfully the guards found it and took it into their custody.
This unexplainable sensation brought me enlightment, and I can thank God not loosing more – or forr longer. As a practical tip the officer of Swiss Guard told me it is worth writing my name and contacts onto my gear. This way in a similar situation they would know whom it belonged and could’ve called me. Prrobably he didn’t invent it himself. On one hand Swiss guard is a military organisation, they may use something similar too to identify what belongs to whom. On the other hand of course they meet not only a lot of tourists, but also a great deal of media workers too. In this profession it is a common practice to mark your gear. Especially because at events where dozens of us photographers, cameramen and journalists gather to work together it is much easier to loose something out of sight. It never hurts to have a label telling who is the owner and how can be reached.
After this incident of course I too took this advice to my heart. I tell everyojne and also wrote a separate article advising write your contact onto every piece of gear. Since then I have all of my cameras, lenses, flashes, batteries memory cardsd, card readers, tripods, monopods, bags, notebook, chargers, tablet and even my mobile phone also has contact label. I even experienced it first hand to get lost gear back because of the label. It also happened some camera crew accidentally took my bag with them. But they remembered me being there so they called me earlier than they would check the contents of the bag and find the label with my contacts. Anyways it is best not to hope for luck, but help it with a label. It is easier to help the hones finders and give them a chance to be able to contact you.
When someone sees my contact on the gear, they usually ask do I really expect someone would return an expensive camera or other valuables? Well, yes! I even have proof it happens. Of course some may scratch off the label and keep the item instead of returning it to the owner. But there are good people who are worth giving a clue whom to look for to rerturn it. At Sziget Festival things are more likely to disappear and I have many stories of even photographers stealing from each other. Places like Formula One race press room, photo studio are no exception. It is also worth to register all your serial numbers and never leave your gear unattended. But it also happens in almost count times at various press conferences, smaller and larger sporting or other events that organisers find valuable things unattended and they have to look for their owners because there is no label on it who owns them. So you should never give up hope, but definitely should give a chance for others and yourself too to be contacted if things gets found!