Lost Camera?

I just read this article and was very happy with the outcome: Photo clues lead to camera’s owner

This photo provided by Alan Murphy shows him posing for a photo with his niece Sarah O'Sullivan on Dec. 20, 2007, in Florida. Erika Gunderson found Murphy's camera in a New York City taxi cab on New Year's Eve. Using clues from photos and video stored on the camera, Brian Ascher, Gunderson's fiance, was able to track down Murphy in Sydney, Australia and return his camera to him. (AP Photo/Alan Murphy) Sitting on the back seat was a nice Canon digital camera. Gunderson asked the driver which previous passenger might have left it, but the cabbie didn’t seem to care. So Gunderson brought it home and showed it to her fiance, Brian Ascher. They decided that the only right thing to do was to find the owner.

… (A lot of detective work) …

Ascher soon got an e-mail from a woman named Sarah Casey, whose sister Jeanette works at Playwrights. Suddenly everything Ascher had seen on the camera came to life.

The Caseys recently had hosted relatives and friends from Ireland. The group included their friend Alan Murphy, who had journeyed to Florida with family before heading to New York, where the clan stayed at the Radisson. (Their Noel was not the Noel whom Ascher e-mailed.) Murphy ended the trip kicking himself for leaving his camera in a cab in the twilight on New Year’s Eve.

If you have time, it’s definitely worth it to read the entire article to see all the detective work that went in to figure out they were a group of Irish people, how they visited some amusement parks in Florida, how they figured out which hotel they stayed at, how they contacted someone in Ireland, how they located the bar they were at, how they eventually found the owner who lives in Australia (updated). Stuff like this always makes me happy to see that some people are willing to go the extra mile to help others.

But this got me thinking. Many people have lost camera over the ages and before when you lose a camera, that’s probably 20-40 pictures in that roll of film. However, now when you lose a digital camera, that can be hundreds or thousands of photos, and just like how when a hard drive dies on you and you haven’t backed up your important data, it’s that sinking feeling that kills you and you regret what you could’ve done to prevent the data loss.

Of course not everyone is going to be as nice as the folks in the article. Even if it ends up with some honest folks, they’ll probably give up the search after a week or so.

So what can one do to aid the finders to locate the original camera owner?

What most people typically do is probably add a name/address/phone tag to the camera, sort of like your luggage, but that’s just tacky. At first, I thought I’d just take a snapshot with my info such as email and phone number, lock that photo and never delete it. Then I thought what I can also do is create a text file on the the memory card and name it something like “If You Found This Camera, Please Read This.txt” or “Owner Information.txt” and include my name, my email, and my phone number (including international codes). You can also include your address, but I thought that was giving away too much PII (personally identifiable information), especially if it lands in the hand of someone not as honest.

Just wanted to share my thoughts with you guys.

One thought on “Lost Camera?

  1. I could never put my personal information on my valuables, sounds like it could create a scary situation. I use a lost and found recovery service called TrackItBack, and they have never let me down. I hope people will make smart decisions and not put themselves in a potentially harmful situation by putting there information on their valuables.

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