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Thread: personal safety / security while photographing

  1. #1

    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Posts
    34

    personal safety / security while photographing

    Hi all,

    I'm planning an extended trip for the mid-term future, and plan to visit California, Nevada, probably Utah, the Four Corners region, and New Mexico. I already know that my mother will be absolutely sure that I'll be attacked, mugged, raped, killed, etc -- yes, I'm a bit of a mama's girl, but I'm her only chick so she does worry even though I'm middle-aged and I've been living on my own in a foreign country since 1999.

    We lived in the West in the 70s and 80s, and my parents frequently went out into the backcountry to dig obsidian, thundereggs, and etc. So I did absorb all the rules about that as a kid. As a family, we have visited Bodie and Mono Lake, we've driven through Yosemite and large parts of Nevada, and my mother and I did some driving around in New Mexico, so they more or less know the areas I'd be in and what conditions were like when we visited.

    So, does anyone have tips on personal security or safety while photographing alone with a LF camera? I already know:
    - plan the drive, drive the plan, and stay in communication with "base camp" especially if the plan changes
    - keep my phone charged, and keep the phone, car keys, and money in a safe pocket, not in my camera bag
    - I try to keep my camera bag under the tripod so that it's always in front of me and harder for someone to walk away with.

    I don't plan on camping, but staying in affordable hotels, and will be renting a car. But any other ideas on safety and security (and I'd really like to hear from other women around here!) that will reassure both me and my mother would be greatly appreciated.

    E.

  2. #2
    Youngin Daniel Stone's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Los Angeles area
    Posts
    2,012

    Re: personal safety / security while photographing

    Ah!!! A fellow rockhound! Well, former in your case ... There's still good geodes coming out of the Wiley's Well area here in CA .

    In relation to your question on "safety", get one or two of these, carry it in your pocket wherever you go, and have a fun time whilst here in the "Wild Wild West"

    EDIT: Most sporting goods stores in the LA area carry them if you'll be flying out here. Try a "Big 5", they usually have these mini-cans by the check-out register.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Dan

  3. #3

    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Scotland
    Posts
    215

    Re: personal safety / security while photographing

    From a Tour security background - study maps of the areas, use google and other search engines. Find locations for Police, Park Rangers, A&E/Hospitals, Pharmacy and such like for each area. Create a diary page for each location before you go with the directions and contact numbers for the various servicies that you may require.
    Search and find out the no-go areas - use google street view to help you plan your visit, locate landmarks if you get lost etc.

    Hope you find some of this useful.

  4. #4

    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Posts
    250

    Re: personal safety / security while photographing

    Just go. Lie to your Mom if you have to. You'll find that the fear is in your head

  5. #5
    Steve Smith's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Isle of Wight, near England
    Posts
    702

    Re: personal safety / security while photographing

    Quote Originally Posted by frotog View Post
    Just go. Lie to your Mom if you have to. You'll find that the fear is in your head
    Agreed.


    Steve.

  6. #6

    Join Date
    Sep 1998
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    Oregon and Austria
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    1,918
    Smith & Wesson....?

  7. #7

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    Sep 2003
    Location
    Hudson Valley, NY
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    1,688

    Re: personal safety / security while photographing

    Be careful loading and unloading your photo gear at the hotel or when about to shoot. Those are the times when a would-be bad guy will notice that you have expensive photo gear and mark you as a target. If necessary, wait until the parking lot is clear before loading/unloading.

  8. #8

    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    Los Angeles, CA
    Posts
    4,433

    Re: personal safety / security while photographing

    In general I agree with the "just go" sentiment, but even as a rough, tough dude I sometimes feel the same anxiety about venturing into unknown areas.

    My approach: be a bit of a loner and avoid too much socializing with unknown folks, bring my two best friends (see post 6), leave breadcrumb trails (see post 3), watch my back (and sides. See post 7), do as much as possible to be invisible (even better than trying to fit in), don't go anywhere that causes the hair onthe back of the neck to stand up (see post 3 again). As a future measure I might consider the non-leathal defense (see post 2), especially when in Nat Parks or Indian (aaargh... what is the corrrect term now?) Nations. Additionally... always keep a full tank of gas, the vehicle parked facing toward the exit, and the keys handy to facilitate fleeing if necessary.

    Bringing a friend always reduced the list of concerns/precautions/coutnermeasures immensely!

  9. #9
    Steve Smith's Avatar
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    Jan 2011
    Location
    Isle of Wight, near England
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    702

    Re: personal safety / security while photographing

    Quote Originally Posted by BrianShaw View Post
    Bringing a friend always reduced the list of concerns/precautions/coutnermeasures immensely!
    Especially if it's a friend who can't run as fast as you!


    Steve.

  10. #10

    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Scotland
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    215

    Re: personal safety / security while photographing

    A little more light hearted - put on your broadest Glaswegian accent. Where mearly saying "Alright pal!" sounds like "I'm gonnae chib ye" (Translation - Hello there, I do appologise, but you have offended me, regrettibly one must insert this (often improvised) weapon into the soft parts of your body. . . you get the drift).

    Ditto No. 7 and 8 - Try to find out the layout of where you stay too, where the alarms, exits and high traffic areas are too. Watch out for folk hanging about in foyers etc. Try to spot where the CCTV cameras are and avoid blind spots. Personally I'd avoid ground floor options and anything above 4th - take stairs where practical up to first then get lift and so on.

    Carry a comprehensive first aid kit, and be sure you know how to use it.

    Where possible stick with the same vehicle as you drive yourself when you hire - you will be more familiar with the layout of the controls etc. Make sure it has GPS for tracking purposes, but invest in an up to date map, or maps.

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