Security of yourself and your camera is very important when traveling. No one likes to have a job assignment or vacation ruined because of a thief. Here are 5 steps that might help the next time your out-of-town.
1. You are not going to blend in. Don’t try to fit in but don’t try to stand out either. The locals already know you don’t belong, but you should not aggravate that situation. The only place a person with expensive cameras and big telephoto lenses blend in is a sporting event. If you find that you need to travel to a less than savory area of a city or country, hire a local guide or a local photographer as your second shooter or security. Do not go alone. The locals will know where it is safe to visit.
2. Hotels are vulnerable when the maid is cleaning your room. It’s usually not the maid or hotel staff you have to worry about. A well dressed person can simply walk into your hotel room while the maid is there and claim they forgot something. Wham! You just got robbed. Use the hotel vault or use the safe in your room to protect things. You could also lock your bags with a chain around a bedpost or the dresser.
3. Make sure to zip your bags closed. The easiest way to do this is just to lock you bags with a small travel lock. When walking around with a backpack, this can prevent pickpockets from accessing your things easily.
4. When you’re in the local environment the type of bag you use for your equipment is important. A major rule is less is more. Remember you are a photographing “tourist”, not a pack llama. Several photographers use hunting or fishing vests that have several deep pockets and carry things like UV lenses and cleaners. Backpacks are great but you have to take them off to get anything. A sling bag worn across the body is better. It’s easy to carry the bag in front of you if you need access to the bag.
5. Remember that no camera or personal equipment is ever worth your life. Equipment is replaceable, hopefully you aren’t. That is what insurance companies are for. Get insurance, either a travel policy or a separate business policy. If you are traveling internationally, keep a list of phone numbers for your countries embassy or consulate in case something happens. If something bad happens, speaking to a person who speaks your language fluently will make all the difference in what happens next.
Most of all, just use common sense. Real life is not a scripted reality TV show. Respect the laws, customs, and any police or security officers with large automatic weapons. Be safe.
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