Photography is fun, exciting and often places you on the “edge”. Everyday shoots can quickly change into something very surprising. Last Monday I decided to shoot some night scenes in Saigon, Vietnam. Here one must be careful to scout your location not only for great images but also for avoiding a snatch and grab of your camera. I once saw a tourist in downtown Saigon with his camera on a tripod in the street while he stood on the curb composing his shot. I approached him and asked him if he spoke English. He answered yes. I told him it was very dangerous to place his camera in the street as thieves on motorbikes will zip by and grab his gear. He looked at me like I was crazy and sarcastically said “I suppose you have personal experience”! I said no, but I live here and know this often happens especially in tourist areas. He acted like I insulted him. Well I tried.
Back to Monday. I set up well back from the road and my wife positioned our motorbike to block anyone from driving by and grabbing our gear. The street behind me was lower and a guard rail further protected my back. Or so I thought. Suddenly my camera was being pulled away! I had my grip on the tripod (as I always do here) and had the strap too. A struggle ensued with me yelling Robber! Robber! in Vietnamese. He was about three feet below me and his grip was slipping. He let go and ran to his waiting accomplices motorbike for a quick get away. The only casualty was my tripod which suffered a bent leg. They were smart and bold. I was not expecting a grab from behind and below. They took advantage of my focus away from them and on my scene. Bold because the man took a big risk being off the motorbike. Thankfully I've learned some Vietnamese to alert those around and put fear in the hearts of the thieves. My wife lost her voice after yelling too.
And to top it off I did not get one good shot as you can see here......
Urban photography requires a different set of skills to deal with potential harm. I am thankful to my wife who has taken the time to teach me about life in her country. I am thankful I have not become lax in my attention to my surroundings and to protecting my gear.
I am most thankful to God who protected us and taught me a lesson while reminding me of His love for us.
And yes next time I see someone doing something unwise I can say....Yes it has happened to me, here's my story!