I know I’ve had a few visitors here after posting this on Facebook today, but for those of you (especially photographers) who might be stumbling across this page by accident, I have a warning for you.
I’ve been to San Francisco a few times now and have fallen in love with that city more and more each visit, but my most recent visit left me numb and, after a few days, still shaken up.
On Monday, May 2, I and a couple of friends flew out to SF to spend a little bit of time in the city before making our way to Yosemite until going back to SF on Sunday. It was the first time the three of us had time to do a trip together in the several years we’ve known each other, and it was the first time any of us would be going to Yosemite. As someone who cannot get enough landscape photography goodness, I was ecstatic — Yosemite has been an absolute dream for years.
I know we only explored around the valley, but from what little bit of this place we experienced in the four days we were there, it was incredible. Such a sacred place. It’s easy to see why Ansel Adams spent so much time behind a camera there — and especially why John Muir fought so hard to preserve it.
But that kind of talk is for another post. I’m writing this one for a far more drab and dismal reason.
So, after dropping off a friend at SFO to catch a flight, my remaining buddy and I had the next day and a half to run around San Francisco. We did just that and had a fantastic time.
It wasn’t until one last stop in order to kill some time before flights when things took a turn.
We had just driven from across town to Golden Gate Park to do one final bit of sightseeing. It was about 5:45 p.m. when I pulled into a curb-side spot near the intersection of MLK Jr. and Nancy Pelosi Drives. Not long after, we hopped out of our rental (a 2016 Jeep Cherokee) and proceeded to do a loop around the courtyard between the Academy of Sciences and the de Young Museum before heading back to the Jeep.
As we rounded a corner and approached our vehicle, I noticed shards of glass on the curb and remember my friend beginning to run.
I looked up and realized that he was running toward the Jeep.
And that’s when I saw it.
My friend’s backpack and my camera pack (along with everything inside) were both gone. Cameras, lenses, laptop, tripod, and images made during our first trip to Yosemite were gone — save the few low-res images that were transferred to my phone.
I don’t wish what I felt/what I’m still feeling on anyone — I was now part of all the horror stories I’d read over the years about stolen gear. My mind started racing, and I started running — hoping beyond all hope that whoever was desperate enough to do this had done so on foot. No luck.
Apparently I was one of the few who had no idea how much of a problem crimes like these are near GGP. Because how could this have happened? It was still daylight. We’d driven from across town and parked just beyond a busy intersection. There were people cycling, jogging, walking their dogs. There were two little league baseball games going on across the street behind us in a park filled with families.
Never did we advertise anything we had inside the vehicle. We hadn’t opened the back hatch. We hadn’t opened the back doors. But I’m guessing the rental car stickers and bar codes were enough of a giveaway that there might be something inside worth taking — and they hit a jackpot.
If anyone in the Bay Area is reading this and comes across the following, I’d be happy to hear from you…
- F-Stop Tilopa Camera Bag, Olive Green, with large ICU inside
- Gitzo GT3541 Carbon Fiber Tripod with Arca-Swiss Monoball Z1 ballhead and RRS lever-release clamp
- 15″ Silver Macbook Pro (2012 model)
- 1TB Toshiba external hard drive with folders inside labeled by year
- Two (2) Nikon D750 bodies — Serial Numbers: 3029127 and 3029286
- Four (4) 64GB SD cards — most images on cards will be from Yosemite National Park
- Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8 lens
- Nikon 16-35mm f/4 lens
- Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 VRII lens
So, to any photographers looking to visit San Francisco, I don’t say this to scare you away from such a beautiful city, but just be extra careful. I don’t think there’s anything differently we could’ve done to prevent this — not under what conditions we thought to be “normal.”
Carry an extra hard drive or your memory cards on your person if you aren’t taking any gear out. I thought my pack would be OK for 10 minutes. I was wrong.
When we returned our vehicle at the airport, we were told it was the third case they’d seen that day.
I’m not trying to shake your faith in humanity or encourage any sort of paranoia, but if you’re around the GGP area, HAVE YOUR VALUABLE STUFF WITH YOU. Don’t put yourself in a situation where you might end up in the nightmare that’s been my week.
I’m now attempting to sell some prints to help get photos on walls and to start rebuilding what was stolen. I tried avoiding the GoFundMe thing, but after multiple suggestions, it looks like I’m going to give it a shot.
I’ve got a small gallery below should you like to click through it.
If there any Rolex 24 Hour Race fans out there, I’ve got some images from that. I’ve also got a few sports images from shooting just about every event the University of Florida has to offer. Let me know if those are more up your alley.