A recent case involving an expensive camera, a memory card and a very helpful scuba diver highlights the fact that images can be recovered from memory cards even when it seems that all is lost. Here, Peter Stevenson of photographers’ insurance specialist InFocus Insurance explains what happened and how professional photographers can protect themselves.
If you were out on a boat on holiday or at a professional photo shoot and you dropped your camera into the water and it plunged to the seabed, would you hold out any hope of getting it back? Probably not and even if you did, you would probably imagine you would never be able to recover the images stored on the camera.
However, a recent case shows that even in the most remarkable circumstances, images can be recovered.
In this particular case, a fire-fighter was on holiday with his family and to his horror, he dropped his camera into the water after taking photos of his family. He left for home, disappointed and convinced that was the end of it. However, in a remarkable twist to the tale, a year later, he was reunited with the camera plus 50 images that had been recovered from the SD Memory card.
The camera was recovered by wildlife photographer Markus Thompson who was out scuba diving. He spotted it on the seabed and managed to bring it to the surface. The camera dropped was a Canon EOS 1000D.
Markus went well beyond the call of duty and managed to recover the images and then went on to post them on Google+ in the hope someone would recognise the people in the images. After being inundated with thousands of comments, someone did recognise the people in the pictures and eventually a friend of the owner emailed Mr Thompson and solved the puzzle. Finally, the photographs were united with the owner. Unsurprisingly, the camera itself could not be saved.
The case above is obviously highly unusual and most people in this position would not be so lucky and would most likely have never seen their precious images again. However, the case does highlight an important point.
Dropping a camera into the sea would be pretty unusual, but a more likely scenario would be a flooding of your studio or a fire, where your equipment was badly damaged or perhaps water damage from a photo shoot taken in a high humidity climate.
Recently a freelance photographer found himself in the vicinity of the London riots. Some of the rioters saw photos were being taken and tried to smash the camera to destroy any potentially incriminating evidence. Fortunately forensic experts were able to recover all the images and hand them over to the police.
In another case, a sports photographer we insure, slipped and fell into a river whilst taking images at a sporting event. All his expensive camera equipment was a write off but thankfully the images were recovered.
If this happens to you, don’t assume you’ll never get the images back. We’ve had cases where expensive cameras containing thousands of precious images have been ruined by a fire, yet under the photographer’s insurance policy, we’ve been able to hire forensic recovery experts to retrieve the images.
Before you assume the worst, contact your insurance broker to check if your policy covers you for hiring the specialists. If you’re taking on a policy for the first time, it’s worth asking the broker if your policy covers this; it’s generally an inexpensive add on.
If your SD card corrupts as a result of moisture or fire damage, the first piece of advice, and this is easier said than done, is don’t panic. Randomly pressing all the buttons on your camera in a bid to get the images back, is likely to do more harm than good. Let the experts take a look as soon as you can. They handle all manner of data catastrophes from water moisture to fire and vandalism, on a daily basis. They have state of the art tools and forensic techniques and are able to reconstruct data in the most unlikely of scenarios.