Sometime in 2010, I bought my first DSLR, the Canon 550D. I was 23 and in the University at that time. I loved the camera. I had it for 3 or so years before I stopped mentioning about it in my blog. So what happened?
Well, long story short, my camera got stolen while I was backpacking in Europe. That was in 2012. I didn’t mention this before because it was partly a traumatising experience to have stuff stolen in a foreign country. But also it was embarrassing for me to admit that I lost something so valuable and precious to me. In addition, it was my father that bought the camera and to lose it was just heartbreaking.
However, during those years that I had it, I learnt a lot about photography. I took lots of photos for school events, as well as various school camps back in my university days. I forged meaningful friendships as a photographer, taking photos, meeting new people. So in essence, beautiful memories were made despite the fact that I was just a budding photographer.
Then I lost it all. I even lost some important and precious photos from the camera that I failed to upload in time before it got stolen. My 6-week volunteer trip to Tunisia was the last set of photos shot before losing the camera, thankfully, about 90% of the photos were already backed up to a notebook that I brought along with me while in Tunisia. The remaining 10% were never recovered.
I was in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. My first city in Europe on my backpacking trip right after my volunteer stint in Tunisia. I was with a friend who flew from Singapore and met me at the Amsterdam Schiphol Airport. I was tired, not from the flight from Tunisia to Amsterdam, but by being away from home for so long. I was looking forward to the trip but also at the same time yearning to go back home. I was a little home sick. I hadn’t been away for so long on such a foreign and far off country like Tunisia.
I had three days in Amsterdam. It was a fantastic city. I love the city a lot. The people are friendly, I enjoyed the lifestyle there. And there were many quirky museums to visit. Not to mention the red light district which was an eye opener. It was on the second day of the two week backpacking trip that my camera was stolen.
We had already walked a lot. I believe it was midday, we were getting tired and I decided to take a rest at a local Starbucks cafe. So I bought a cup of coffee and sat down by the windows to watch people go about their daily lives. It was soothing to watch the world go by. But I made a fatal mistake. My backpack, which I always carried with me contained my camera. I placed it on the floor, out of sight while I turned away to look out on the streets. In Singapore you wouldn’t give much thought to your backpack. It will still be there even if you are not actively looking out for it. But not in Amsterdam. Both of us were tired. We had let our guard down. Before we knew it, the backpack on the floor was gone. We were there for only 20 minutes at most. The cafe as I remembered it, was pretty crowded with many people coming and going. So when we realised that the bag was gone, I knew I had lost my camera forever. There was just no way to track it down and retrieve the contents from my stolen bag.
I made a police report, but there was little the police could do. I was scheduled to leave Amsterdam in a couple of days. I had travel insurance, which, combined with the police report made for a legitimate financial claim. But the final claimed sum wasn’t enough to completely replace a new camera. Besides, that whole episode was traumatising that for a while I associated photography to that terrible incident. And so, for a few years, I shunned photography.
Looking back, I did not resent anyone but myself. If I had given a choice I would save the photos over the camera at the end of every photo session of the day. I had some really important and precious photos stored in the SD card that I didn’t manage to upload to the notebook. Those photos were simply the last few day’s of my stint in Tunisia. Now they are completely gone forever.
As for the rest of my backpacking trip, I didn’t have my 550D to take nice photos of Amsterdam, Berlin, Hamburg or Prague, places that I went during my two week trip. I had to resort to taking photos using my iPhone. What iPhone model at that time, I couldn’t remember. But the pictures pale in comparison to what the 550D could potentially achieve, given the fact that smartphone cameras at the time were not known to take DSLR quality pictures.
But I don’t resent the fact that I got my bag stolen. It was traumatising, but I don’t blame anyone except myself. It’s a hard lesson that I learnt while I was overseas; always look after your belongings!