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Preventing theft of photo gear when covering public or semi-public events.


Tom Mann

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Often, I'm the main (or only) photographer at semi-official events like receptions, faculty meetings, parties, work-related luncheons and dinners at restaurants, etc.. For these, I need better quality lighting than one can get using a single on-camera flash, but I don't need (and I may not being paid for) the quality of light one can get if you go full-out and set up umbrellas, softboxes, light stands, etc.

My usual way to handle such situations is to simply place several hotshoe flashes around the room. Each flash is essentially identical to my avatar in size and shape; all are pointing up at the ceiling to provide bounce illumination, and each is plugged into a Pocket Wizard radio trigger. Usually, I'll just lay them on tops of book cases or anything else tall.

Such a simple approach provides surprisingly natural / flattering light, is vastly easier to transport than a full lighting rig, is very quick to set up (and move, if needed), and provides nice uniform coverage of light as people are milling around the room. I've been using this approach for decades.

The danger is that each flash and trigger combination is worth around $500, and they are small enough for someone to pick one up, stick it in their pocket, and be gone with it before anyone notices its missing. In the past, I was never concerned about theft because the events that I cover usually are not open to the public. However, for the first time, I caught someone with one of my flash+trigger combination in their hands, and it was pretty obvious that they didn't have an interest in photography.

So, my question to the group is, can you think of any way to provide some moderate level of security for these units that doesn't destroy their convenience. I thought about thin cable locks like some people use for skis, snowboards, laptops, etc., but there is no hole for the cable to go through on the flashes, and often there is no place high up on the nearby furniture to secure the other end of the cable.

I've thought about using clamping the flashes to something, but these events are often in nice rooms where the owner definitely wouldn't appreciate someone clamping something to their nice furniture. I've thought about other types of clamps (eg, the Manfrotto super clamp), but each is heavy, and unless I'm shooting in a gym or lab, where these are absolutely wonderful pieces of grip, there rarely are any pipes or other things around suitable to grab on to at these sorts of events.

Of course, no one is likely to take a flash from the top of a fully extended light stand, but again, that's exactly what I'm trying to get away from bringing.

So, any thoughts on this would be greatly appreciated.

Tom M
 

ALB68

Dear Departed Guru and PSG Staff Member
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If your not opposed to attaching something to the unit more or less permanently, just get me to make you some laser cut tabs from 1/4 " acrylic, with a flat side and then bent 90 degrees with a hole on that side. Epoxy to the unit. This would give you a way to attach the cable with the lock. This assumes that the unit is flat enough on the back side. Not totally theft proof but it would be difficult without attracting attention. Inexpensive also.
 

Tom Mann

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Paul, Larry - for the great ideas. I really like Paul's idea of the anti-theft motion sensing tag. I will certainly look into that. Also, Thanks loads for the link.


Larry, you also gave me a very good idea. So, I looked up some of the accessories that go with cable locks for laptops, and it it turns out that the people that supply such devices actually sell a very inexpensive piece of plastic exactly as you described. The only problem is that with a cable-based solution, they're often is nowhere to loop the other end of the cable through.
 

ALB68

Dear Departed Guru and PSG Staff Member
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Paul, Larry - for the great ideas. I really like Paul's idea of the anti-theft motion sensing tag. I will certainly look into that. Also, Thanks loads for the link.


Larry, you also gave me a very good idea. So, I looked up some of the accessories that go with cable locks for laptops, and it it turns out that the people that supply such devices actually sell a very inexpensive piece of plastic exactly as you described. The only problem is that with a cable-based solution, they're often is nowhere to loop the other end of the cable through.
Yeah..well now that could be a problem :rolleyes:
 

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