About

Welcome to our blog!  Sierra Blanco Photography is committed to creating progressive wedding and portrait photography with an artistic flair.  Our blog is an extension of our business, designed to bring you the latest in our professional and personal lives.  Enjoy and please feel free to participate by leaving your comments!

All images are the Copyright of Sierra Blanco Photography.
wpja.jpg

5-26-12 Destination Wedding Photographers LJWed00.jpg

We are posting this story, our story, for both photographers and brides alike so that you may hopefully learn from one of the worst experiences we have ever had personally and professionally.

This occurrence took place on May 26th, 2012 at Leah and Josh's wedding in downtown San Francisco.  First let us begin with the very kind and compassionate letter Leah sent us a few days later.

"Hi Tina and Kevin,

I am writing to tell you what an amazing job you both did last weekend at our wedding....I truly couldn't have asked for a better day!! Josh and I had the time of our lives and we were so happy that you were there to share it with us!

I found out the next day about the break in that happened outside the venue just before the wedding and my heart literally broke thinking about how devastated you two must have been.....especially after the hard week you had back in Arizona. You two were so professional the whole time and didn't appear the least bit distracted or upset which is so incredible to me. I would have been in tears and unable to go on if something that tragic happened. I can only imagine how hard that day must have been for you both and I can't tell you how sorry I am for what happened. I am not sure how I can help out but if there is ANYTHING I can do at all, please let me know. Thank you, thank you, thank you for everything you did that day!

Take care,
Leah"

This email brought me to tears!  The previous "hard week" Leah refers to goes back to the fact that five days earlier we had to put our 14 year old dog, Yoshi, to sleep.  He was like a child to us and as anyone who has gone through this knows, it is terribly traumatic.  So we didn't think things could get any worse, but they did.

A couple of hours before the wedding was to begin, Kevin and I parked in front of the venue - in what we believed to be a safe neighborhood - and we took a walk to get some lunch.  When we returned, now an hour before the wedding was to begin, I walked to the driver's side of the car and noticed shattered glass laying all around the ground.  My eyes darted around and fixed on the back passenger window, now gone.  At first, I simply couldn't process what I was seeing.  Then it hit me.  I frantically began searching through the car and realized it was all gone ... I told Kevin, "It's all gone!"  All our photography equipment and two laptop computers were gone ... tens of thousands of dollars gone.  Words really can't adequately describe how one feels when faced with this type of violation.  All at once you feel bewildered, defeated and helpless and that helplessness to change anything leads to extreme anger.  To top it off, it really didn't help when a local woman walked by and exclaimed, "welcome to San Francisco."  Needless to say, I had a few choice words for her.

We have been asked if our equipment was in view.  No it wasn't in view, however we did drive from Arizona to San Francisco for the wedding and our rental car was packed full.  This probably helped to make us a target and there are some that feel we may have been targeted before reaching the venue.  We had stayed in a hotel just around the corner and had checked out and loaded our equipment into the car minutes before we took the short drive to the venue.  Whatever the reason, it happened and we quickly had to pull ourselves together and come up with a plan to photograph this wedding.

This was not the easiest feat, being in a strange city and not knowing anyone we could turn to.  Had this taken place in Arizona, we could have called on one of our many photographer friends to lend us equipment, but that was not an option.  Renting was also not an option as we had to immediately leave the wedding and drive overnight back to Arizona to be at another wedding the following day ... needless to say, it was a long drive back.  Fourteen hours of driving at speeds of 80mph with a garbage bag swooshing and banging against the vacant back window the entire way, all with no sleep for over 24 hours.  Long indeed.

To complicate matters it was a holiday weekend and we were terrified we would not be able to find any professional photography stores open.  Luckily we remembered that Calumet, a large nationwide distributor of professional grade photographic equipment, was based in San Francisco.  That was our saving grace!  We were able to get there, purchase enough new equipment to get us through the wedding, and get back in time to begin our jobs.  We were only about 15 minutes late.  Luckily Leah didn't even notice.  We were also lucky to get the same exact cameras, lenses and flashes we had stolen, so there was no learning curve as there would be with different equipment.  We simply moved on, put the whole ordeal out of our minds for the time and concentrated on photographing this beautiful couple on their wedding day.  FYI, everyone, guests and family alike, new what had happened with the exception of the bride and groom.  It was not the time to tell them ... it was their day and we wanted them to be free to enjoy it.

Since then, we have also been asked if we had insurance on our equipment.  The answer is yes, we did, however ...

Photographers, learn from our mistakes.  Update your insurance regularly.  We took out our policy when we first started our business eight years ago and we never really gave it much thought again.  We simply payed our premiums each year and forgot about it.  As you add new equipment, you need to increase you coverage.  We did get money back but not nearly the equivalent we lost.  Also, be very cautious of your surroundings.  We thought we were.  In the same year we had been all over the U.S. and even to Rome and Nigeria for weddings.  We were so cautious, especially overseas, but we let our guard down in San Francisco and we paid a heavy price.  For the record, we were fortunate.  We didn't lose any previous weddings or shoots.  Everything had been backed up at home before leaving for this trip.  Always think about things like that.  Back up your files in multiple locations and if you have memory cards in your cameras that haven't been backed up, take them out and keep them with you until you do.

Brides, PLEASE make sure when looking for a wedding photographer, that you do your homework and hire a professional.  We can't stress the importance of this enough.  There are a lot of people out there these days who have picked up a camera, charge very little for their services and call themselves professionals and we know how tempting it is when planning such a costly event to try to save money when possible.  Sadly, many of these people are not professionals and you will pay the price in the end if something like this happens as they will not have the means to handle the situation.  A true professional photographer is established in their business and has the industry connections and monetary means to replace equipment last minute if necessary.  They also have the experience to handle something this horrible and carry through to produce the same wonderful photos you hired them to produce ... all with a smile on their face and a positive attitude.  Do your research and remember, you really do get what you pay for.

Again, we wanted to share this experience in hopes that those reading it may take something away from it in order to help them avoid pitfalls in the future.  Take it for what it's worth ... a cautionary tale.


Trackbacks
Comments