Gear stolen at church before the ceremony.. Be careful, everyone!

So, it's 9:30 AM on Monday, and I am sick again. Thank God I was at least feeling better during the weekends to allow me to capture some awesome couples' wedding. Past week was pretty tough on us in various reasons. I knew this week will get only tougher, so I was preparing mentally. Then this incident took place...
Yesterday, while I was traveling with the couple in the limo for the photo shoot around the city, I sent my 2nd shooter straight to the church (which is normal routine for us, whether it's church or reception). When he got there, there was a service taking place because he was there too early. So he took some exterior shots of the church, and went inside, put the gear bag on the back corner where he wouldn't disrupt the service. Since there was still doing a service, he decided to step out and go to parking lot (which was literally outside of the door), and bring back his water bottle, and then talked to his GF on the phone for about 3 minutes. He saw people walking out, so he decided to head back in to grab some detail shots and interior shots. When he got to the bag, the bag was opened, and some of our gear was missing. Here is the list: Canon T2i with battery grip with Canon brand batteries, Sandisk 32GB SD card (with some footage from bridal prep), Sigma 24-70 f2.8, and Sigma 70-200 f2.8... He didn't take another 7D with Tokina 11-16 probably because he couldn't figure out how to release it from our tripod. I was 3 minutes away from the church on the way back from the photoshoot in the limo. When he called me saying that he is not joking or anything (he loves to joke around with me. ALOT), my heart dropped... wishing it wasn't true...
We are fully insured, but that wasn't the problem. How about the some footage there? How are we going to shoot the ceremony in this huge church (yeh, it had a loooooong aisle)? How are we going to shoot the reception??? My heart ached. My sickness seemed hitting me again with nausea and headache.
After we informed the couple, the photographer kindly lend us one of their lenses 35mm (which was still better than my 28mm) for up front angle. With limited focal length, we did our very best to capture the ceremony and reception.
Long story short, we survived the night with 2 cameras and 3 lenses.
I tweeted and updated the statues on Facebook. I am so grateful for all the friends who offered me to let me know borrow the lenses or cameras for the night, even one of my Facebook friends that I have never met offered me 2 batteries for T2i for free. Even my role model/hero/inspiration left a note, too. Thank you all again for great support. You all made me keep motivated and encouraged throughout the night.
Wedding was awesome, and everything went great.
So! What did we learn today?
First, do not leave your gear unattended too long if at all. Even at the church! I don't blame my crew because I have done the same thing sooo many times, I know you guys probably have, too.
Second, if there is some other service or ceremony taking places, put your gear away from it. I doubt if there were some guests from our wedding, it would much less likely stealing could have taken place (as they know that could jeopardize the wedding that they are attending).
Third, insurance, insurance, insurance. With WEVA discount, I am not paying too much per year for decent coverage. If I wasn't insured, it was close to $3000 loss right there...if not more with shipping and taxes. I have an E-Session this afternoon, and 2 double booked weddings this weekend. There is no way that I can cover those lost equipment in 4 days.

I still have 12 more weddings to go, and tons more years to come. I will take this lesson and be a lot more careful with our gear. This could have been a lot worse, trust me. I never thought this sort of things would happen to "ME"!!! You all are thinking the same thing, right? No. It could happen to anybody, including you!!!
So be careful out there. Stay alert at all time.

Yours truly,



Andy Owen said...

Sorry to hear that man, but I guess it's a good lesson for us all to hear. I'm thrilled to hear of the pouring out of support though. We have a great online community.

Gregory Juan said...

Stories like this make me sick. To get your gear stolen at a church and during a service of all things. We work hard to buy our equipment and to have some idiot go in and take it upsets it.

Leo said...

JJ hyeong, I can't believe this happened, but glad to hear that you are dealing with the situation as best as you can. Don't worry I'll help you find this culprit.


MacGyver said...

We have had that happen to us before during a wedding at a small church here on Maui. (Yes, it happens even in Hawaii)

We were shooting the couple on the church grounds after the ceremony, and someone came into the church and just walked away with the second shooter's camera and lens.

Always have your gear close by or have someone you trust keep an eye on it. Only only takes a minute for some lowlife to come by and mess up your day.

Anonymous said...

I feel for you JJ. You don't know me, but I am David Robin's former partner at Boulevard Video (now David Robin Films) in Los Angeles (actually, I started the business in 1984 and brought him in a few years later - I sold my half to him in 1988 and wow - look what he's done with it!).

Back in 1994 I was shooting a wedding in L.A. as I normally did at that time - I would set up a Panasonic AG-460 (S-VHS) in the balcony and run my main camera, a $8,000 JVC X2B (3 Chip, S-VHS) in the front of the church. After the ceremony I set my main camera down in the corner of the alter area to go to the balcony to take my back camera down. As I tried to return to my main camera on the Altar, a woman in a pretty dress intercepted me and told me, "The Bride wants to speak with you." So I followed her outside to the Bridal line. When I got to the Bride, I asked her what she wanted. She was confused by my question! I turned around and the woman in the pretty dress had disappeared. I knew right then what was going on! I ran back to the Alter area but my main camera (with the footage) was gone. Other guests said they saw a man in a dark suit pick up the camera, put it on his shoulder and walk out the door - they thought he worked with me. The camera and its footage was never recovered - a tough lesson to learn!
Best wishes,
John Mohan