‘Hire Security or Shoot on a Smartphone’ Somber Advice for Photographers in San Francisco


In case photography isn’t expensive enough, professionals in the San Francisco area are hiring security for their shoots thanks to the city’s camera theft epidemic.

The latest high-profile robbery that took place in the city last week involved a wedding photographer threatened at gunpoint on the grounds of the Palace of Fine Arts, the thieves made off with his kit.

“Several of my photographer friends in the Bay Area have told me that they never go on a professional shoot without security,” photographer and journalist Jefferson Graham tells PetaPixel.

“That’s a really sad statement on the state of professional photography in San Francisco.”

Rogues’ Gallery

Earlier this year, a Canadian film crew was robbed of $35,000 in equipment near San Francisco’s Twin Peaks. In 2021, a photographer taking images at the Golden Gate Bridge was followed more than 40 miles to his home in Fremont, where he was robbed at gunpoint. There have been many more sad incidents that PetaPixel has covered.

Shockingly, the stolen cameras are then sold on the street in broad daylight, often within hours of the theft.

“This epidemic has been going on for a good two to three years and local officials do not seem to be taking it seriously,” says Graham

“The only thing they do is hang signs in tourist areas, reminding people to not leave anything of value in their car.”

Graham, who was robbed himself while shooting in San Francisco, says that he would be wary of accepting a job that was in a location such as the Palace of Fine Arts.

“If I had to do it, I would go there early and have a group of people with me for security. That or shoot the job on a smartphone.”

Graham isn’t the only photographer who is cautious about shooting at the Palance of Fine Arts.

“I shot here (the Palace of Fine Arts) many times and always felt lucky to leave unscathed,” one woman tweeted. “I even had it on my website for a while that I will no longer do San Francisco weddings. Even turned one down in 2021. Theft, parking issues, and other logistics just made it not even worth it.”

Graham says when he was robbed the police were “blasé about the whole thing” and he believes other theft victims are treated similarly.

“More helpful, would be a police presence in tourist areas and actually arresting the people that are stealing cameras,” he adds.

Graham wrote an article outlining how to fight the theft epidemic.