John from Modesto, California recently posted a question about safety for Photofocus that I believe warrants a post. Safety is something that some photographers take for granted. But when you’re absorbed in your photographic pursuits, you’re more vulnerable than usual. Here are some tips for remaining safe while shooting.
1. Know where you’re going and tell someone else. If you’re headed out to do a shoot, make sure to file a flight plan of sorts, detailing where you will be, the route you plan to take, your expected departure and return times. This way, if you get lost or hurt and don’t make it home, someone will know where to look for you.
2. Take a cell phone with you. While there’s no guarantee that your cell phone will work everywhere, there’s no denying that cell phones have helped save people’s lives in emergency situations. If you’re going somewhere really remote, consider renting a satellite phone.
3. Keep a record of all your gear. Model, serial number, date of purchase and price paid are the minimum information you’ll need in the event you lose your gear. Keep this record separate from your camera bag.
4. Keep your gear with you at all times. If you put your camera bag in your trunk, your back seat, your hotel room or anywhere else that you are not – you run the real risk of theft. Be sure to have your gear insured (preferably with an Inland Marine policy that guarantees replacement value not market value) and be street smart. If you find yourself in a bad situation, hide your gear. If you are confronted and held up, don’t try to be a hero. Give the gear up and try to keep your wits about you. Make sure to remember details like an accurate description of the thief and any getaway car.
5. Pay attention to your surroundings. It’s easy to become distracted when shooting. Keep one eye open. Make sure to note suspicious people and circumstances. Watch your back. Better yet, have someone with you who can watch it for you.
6. Dress appropriately. If you’re going into serious inclement weather, particularly if you’re going somewhere extremely cold or hot, dress in layers and also make sure you have good shoes, socks and basic protection.
7. Provision for emergencies. Bring LOTS of water when you go out shooting. Bring a small blanket, flashlight, compass, matches, signal flare, maps and food for at least two days when you’re in the field. Preparing for the worst means you can relax and enjoy your shoot knowing that just in case, you’re covered.
These are just seven basic tips. I could go on for days. The most important tip is to use common sense and be mindful of your own safety. YOU are responsible for your safety. Take it seriously and then go shoot and have fun.