Don't Shoot in the Dark
A Risk Management Guide for Self-Employed Photographers and Videographers

Chapter 4: Protecting Your Photography / Videography Business
Part 2: Keeping Insurance Rates Low: Risk Management for Freelance Photographers and Videographers
How Photographers and Videographers Can Prevent Equipment Loss

For photographers and videographers, gear theft is a very real concern. Your job requires traveling — often to unfamiliar places among unknown people — and you are always packing thousands of dollars' worth of equipment.

We've already discussed how Property Insurance can protect you, but having a risk mitigation plan in place can prevent the headache of property loss — not to mention a rise in premium costs. Read on to learn about some of the preventative measures you can take to protect your gear:

  • Carry your equipment. If you can avoid it, never set your gear down. Everyone may seem nice at the wedding, but anyone could snatch a bag of equipment if it's just sitting on the ground. The trick is to pack light. If you are shooting an event, know which camera and lenses you'll need and leave the rest at home. There are certain backpacks you can use to keep your gear on your person at all times. If you must leave your equipment — like if it's on a tripod — ask an assistant or trusted colleague to keep an eye on it.
  • Secure your gear. Sometimes, like at a wedding, it might not be possible for you to carry your gear at all times — especially if you're working solo. In this case, it might be a good idea to invest in a movement alarm. Most of these were designed to alarm other property — like tools and boats — but many are small enough to toss in your bag or attach to your tripod. These alarms range in sophistication and price. Some can be synched with your smart phone while others have built-in GPS locators.
  • Don't advertise your goods. When you get a piece of exciting new equipment, it may be tempting to talk about it (or post about it on your business Facebook page) — but try to refrain. No one needs to know what you have in your bag, especially if it makes you a target. You may even want to rip the boxes up before you put them in your trash. Thieves can be sneaky.
  • Travel smart. Try not to leave gear in your hotel room. If you must (and while you sleep), keep it locked up in the hotel's safe. Never leave gear in the backseat of a car — always travel with it in your truck. And if you can avoid it, you should never keep your camera gear in checked luggage. Either keep it in your carryon, or ship your gear overnight to the hotel. Federal Express Overnight should do the trick. Just be sure to alert the hotel to expect the package.

If your camera is stolen, you may be able to track it down. New browser window icon. is a free service that uses your camera's serial number (stored in the metadata of the photos) to see if anyone has posted pictures they've taken with your camera online.

Of course, it's always best to document your equipment. Take photos of everything — including the serial numbers. And always keep your receipts. If you do need to file a claim, your insurance agent (and you!) will be grateful. Lastly, it can't hurt to register the equipment with the manufacturer.

Next: How the Affordable Care Act Affects Freelance Photographers and Videographers

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