A recent event leads to this reminder. We were photographing at Crystal Lake (shown above), south of Ouray. With glowing fall colors, a calm lake and a dramatic sky, we were letting the pixels rip on a magical morning.
Shortly after we arrived, we noticed a camera bag along the water’s edge, apparently left behind. We checked to see if there was any identification such as a luggage tag or business card but nothing was apparent. The bag contained a Canon 5D and some lenses, a not inconsequential investment.
My friend Dick asked around as people came and went but no one claimed the prize. We planned to leave a note at the parking area and take the bag to Ouray. Our friend Lora has a motel there and knows everyone in town. She would call the other motels and also alert the Chamber of Commerce and police. We were confident the bag could be eventually reunited with a forlorn photographer!
We continued to make photographs and at some point, a photo workshop instructor got involved and decided to take charge. He was rather rude and arrogant and announced he would take the bag back to the Fort Collins area, some 300 miles away where he would attempt to track down the owner via the serial number.
We argued for leaving the bag in Ouray, 10 miles away, as a more logical place for the owner to search, but we were told our idea was quite stupid! We were assured by some of the workshop participants that the instructor was a “professional” and thereby best qualified for the highly technical and specialized area of camera bag reunions! The best line was when I opined that the bag might find a permanent home in Fort Collins, to which I was told, “the pro shoots Nikon; why would he want Canon stuff”. So there… I guess.
By now, the “instructor” had glommed onto the bag, like a chicken on a June bug! Dick, (in an act of bravery perhaps, or not!) took a photo of the instructor and also got his business card. We hoped this would keep him “honest”.
After about 90 minutes we were getting ready to leave when lo and behold, a person came along looking for the bag. We pointed him in the right direction and he was one happy camper!
The message here of course, is to make sure you have your contact info in your bag. On my own bag, I have a tag attached to the outside, as well as business cards inside.
The same advice applies to camera bodies, lenses and tripods. Some years ago, I left behind a Gitzo tripod. It did not have my name on it and so I learned a $500 lesson.
If nothing else, get a label maker and put your name and phone on everything! I even put my contact info on my memory cards.
Most folks want to be honest but without any contact info, there is not much hope of recovery.
Go label your stuff NOW!