I have heard of many similar stories from friends, and it is not being clumsy and dropping the camera out of your hands that is common. It is forgetting where your camera is, be it on your lap, or around your shoulder, and then leaning forward to just watch it plummet to the floor. To conclude, my number one photographic tip is zip your camera bag up before taking every photo.
I do not deserve to still be in possession of a working camera. I’ve had it four years, and treated it with the utmost care, but in this last 6 months I’ve taken my eye off the ball quite a few times, and got away with it every single time. I know this post in itself is the biggest jinx of all, as I’ll probably break it in a couple of days.
1. Camera stolen in Marseille
After watching Wales thump Belgium at the Euros on the final night of our trip in Marseille, we went drinking. At around 2am, while walking home, we passed a group of kids playing football in the street. With my beloved camera dangling round my body, I couldn’t help but join in, and before I knew it I had 6 kids trying to get the football off me, or so I thought. I was about 500m down the street on my way home again when I realised my camera bag was lighter than usual, and sure enough I turned around to see the little kids waving it at me back up the street. As I walked back towards them, one of the boys grabbed the camera off his friend, and ran towards me to give it back to me. It had all my photos of our two weeks at the Euros, and although we had some very bad luck in Marseille this summer, this was a huge slice of good fortune.
2. Lost memory card in the Tiger Leaping Gorge
After 3 days of hiking through unbelievable scenery and death defying drops to river rapids thousands of metres below, I had taken a stupid amount of photos of one of my highlights of China. After enjoying a victory lunch at the end, we were waiting for our bus when I realised my memory card wasn’t in my camera or my camera bag. This card has all my photos since we boarded the train in London 6 weeks earlier. I had a good half hour of serious panic tracing our steps for the previous hour. Unbelievably, we walked back into the restaurant where we ate lunch, and the memory card was in the middle of the floor of the restaurant, untouched and undamaged.
3. Dropped my camera at Yuanyang rice terraces
After a 9 mile walk through jungle, we arrived at Bada scenic spot to view the famous rice terraces at sunset. We had miscalculated and arrived 3 hours early, so there was a lot of sitting around waiting for the magic to happen when the water filled rice terraces reflect the changing colours of the setting sun. Unfortunately, just as it was getting good, I leant forward to put my bag down, and my camera bag tilted forward just enough to allow the camera with the giant zoom lens to roll out and crack onto the floor below. Sure enough, it was ruined, and I got zero photos of said spectacular sunset. Did I mention that we’d walked 9 miles to get there? The camera gods shone down on me again though two days later when we arrived in Yangon, Myanmar. We wandered the amazing narrow streets full of shops selling everything under the sun, until we spoke to a man on sewing machine street who told us about a camera repair shop. Up some dingy stairs above a chapatti stall, they fixed it in under 24 hours for less than £20. Good as new, which is lucky because they don’t sell my brand of camera (Olympus) anywhere in the country.
4. Dropped my lens off the top of a temple at Bagan
Just 5 days after getting it fixed and saving myself a £200 bill for a new camera, I did exactly the same thing again. Arrived at said sunset spot, and just as it was getting good, I leant forward to sit down, and my fancy small lens rolled out my unzipped camera bag which had again tilted forwards. This time though, the floor was 10m away. Time honestly stood still, I screamed in slow motion, and watched the little black cyclinder bounce off the roof of the temple down onto the floor 10m below. I scrambled down the steps to realise that below the temple was a field of unkempt grass 1.5m high, and I had no idea where the lens landed. The genius local kids found a giant stick of bamboo to prod around with, and within 2 minutes they’d found the lens, unharmed and in full working order. The spongy landing of untidy grass must have helped, but fair to play to Panasonic, their little lens is seemingly bullet proof.
I don’t think I’m due any more luck, so I have become incredibly anal about zipping my bag up after every photo. There are some obvious morals from this that I really should have known, eg. Playing football when drunk with your camera round your neck is stupid.