The Loss of Memories

How I lost $10,000 in photo equipment and the lessons learned from it

On December 26, 2013 thieves got their hands on approximately $10,000 of photo and computer equipment that I had owned. Their gain came at my loss — back glass of the car was broken, and backpack with valuables got stolen.

This happened in Montreal while I was on vacation, visiting Ottawa, Mont Tremblant, Montreal and — I planned for — Quebec City — in my ‘Quebecois road trip’. I left a car for about an hour while going for a walk in Old Town and having a quick bite on a way, and came back to a — quite possibly — forever ruined impression of Montreal. After initial shock, I started compiling together a list of lost items. A pretty new Nikon D800, Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8, Nikkor 70-200 f/2.8 II were just the beginning. I felt the loss, but was dumbfound at the time to feel anything.

Next shock came a few hours later, when I recognized that there are a few more items that gone missing — my passport, money, home and office keys. This, still, was just the beginning.

About a day after I realized that I have lost, possibly, my most important of all possessions — my memories. I have lost my hard drive with all my photos from Alaska and trip through Wyoming, Utah, Arizona and Colorado. This is something more. The exact number of images lost is unknown, but it’s more than just RAWs and JPGs, Zeroes and Ones — this are unique places and unique timing for some of them. These are thousands of photos that were yet to see the day light, yet to be published on 500px.

While I’m not the best photographer you’ll bump into, my images are worth something. It’s hard to put a monetary value on some shots, but those photos sell, and those photos arouse emotions. And beyond that, those are one-in-a-lifetime experiences that I documented through my photo trips.

On the cost side alone, though, a $7,000 trip to Alaska that I contemplated a lot (mostly down to pure astronomical cost of it), came down to about 10,000 RAW images or around 400 Gb of images. How do you put a value on that?

This experience of losing things definitely taught me one thing — losing stuff doesn’t matter much, as thinking about lost camera and lens didn’t matter as much as losing my experiences, my memories, my photos. You only realize how much you care about your photos when you lose it.

PS: On the bright note, I now started setting up my ultimate backup — with all my computer being copied to Amazon’s Glacier along with a local Time Machine backup, and I plan to post a lot more of my photos to 500px, as well as making backups locally and off-site.

PPS: If you see those items on sale, please contact the police: Apple MacBook Air 13” (Serial number: C02JR39FF57J), Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 II (Serial number: 20229148), Nikon D800 (Serial number: 5005391), Nikon 24-70 mm f/2.8 (Serial number: 730484).

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