Photographer Cries Tears of Joy After Being Reunited With Lost Camera Bag

Left: a woman embracing a man who appears emotional, leaning on a counter. right: a group of four adults, two men and two women, smiling for the camera in an indoor setting.

A photographer was filmed bursting into tears of joy after learning that his lost camera bag, with over $21,850 worth of gear and memory cards full of images, had been found.

On Sunday evening, combat sports photographer Lamine Mersch took a taxi from his hotel in Bangkok, Thailand to the local airport so he could take a flight to cover Muay Thai competition in Phuket.

However, the U.K.-based photographer had accidentally given the wrong location and the taxi driver took him to a restaurant instead of Don Mueang airport.

According to Thai newspaper Khaosod, Mersch got out of the taxi and realized that he wasn’t at the airport, the cab driver drove away with the photographer’s backpack full of camera gear still in his vehicle.

Mersch’s bag had over £21,850 (£17,500) worth of gear including a Sony a7S III, Sony Alpha 7 IV, 24-70mm Sony GM II, and a Sigma 50mm F1.4 as well as lots of small accessories ranging from SSDs to SD Cards, and the photographer’s Macbook Pro.

‘I Started Panicking’

“I got out of my taxi and took out my suitcase from the back of the car. Taxi drivers in Thailand are very friendly, so they open doors for you and close it for you as well,” Mersch tells PetaPixel.

“When I got out of the taxi, I still had my backpack on the backseat, but as it was dark outside it couldn’t be seen by the taxi driver who closed the door for me.

“I took out the suitcase, and going into typical routine mode, I assumed that was all. It took me about 10 seconds to realize something felt odd. I always have a backpack, and it felt too light, which was when I realized I didn’t have it.

“My initial feeling was pure disbelief, not sadness or anger, just confusion and wondering if this was real.

“I then started panicking, what do I do now, I can’t reach the taxi driver, I’m stuck in a foreign country, I don’t speak the language, I cannot make money without my camera and all my recent work was in the backpack on SSDs and my laptop.”

As the shock dawned on Mersch, a group of strangers — who later turned out to be a local volunteer group known as “Sai Mai Must Survive” — approached the photographer and offered to help him.

Mersch had placed an AirTag on his camera bag. So the photographer and the Sai Mai Must Survive volunteers drove around Bangkok trying to find the taxi for two hours.

But, after failing to catch up with the taxi, the Sai Mai Must Survive team contacted the local police station. They eventually managed to contact the taxi driver and locate Mersch’s camera bag.

photographer lost camera bag tears joy
Photographer Lamine Mersch upon hearing that his camera bag had been located. He is pictured with volunteer group “Sai Mai Must Survive” which helped him.

Upon hearing the news that his camera bag was found, the photographer understandably burst into tears of joy and relief.

“When we got to the police station, we gave them the name of the taxi driver. We thankfully found his name on the app I booked the taxi through and the police called up multiple people with that name,” Mersch says.

“The third person they called was my taxi driver. Around 30 minutes after the call, the driver came to the local police station with my backpack.”

‘Extremely Grateful’

Mersch, who has been working as a full-time combat sports photographer for the last year, says he felt so much gratitude to the volunteers who had helped him and immense relief that he still had his clients’ photos.

Photographer Lamine Mersch upon hearing that his camera bag had been located. He is pictured with volunteer group "Sai Mai Must Survive" who helped him.
Lamine Mersch (second to left) reunited with his camera bag. He is pictured with the taxi driver, “Sai Mai Must Survive” volunteers, and local police officers.

“I just felt a sense of safety again having my gear back. While I know I could explain the situation to clients and make up on lost work or refund them, the thought of losing that much money, and possibly not having insurance support me, was something I didn’t want to deal with,” Mersch says.

“I haven’t been doing photography for very long, only full-time for one year. But I met some amazing people and have some good momentum on my side.

“So not having this loss hit me and possibly derailing my career was a moment I’m extremely grateful for, even more so being grateful to a group of strangers that could’ve easily seen me as just a silly tourist — but instead decided to help me out.”

‘Buy AirTags and Have Insurance’

Mersch advises other photographers to have insurance and put AirTags on their camera bags when traveling abroad.

“Buy loads of AirTags and have insurance,” the photographer explains.

“Even if in the end I didn’t need the AirTag to find my camera bag, I always knew where it was and that alone provided me with a sense of safety knowing I could always keep chasing instead of looking blindly for a bag in a massive city.

“Also have a backup at home with your footage, in case anything ever happens to your camera storage.”

More of Lamine Mersch’s work can be found on Instagram and his website.


Image credits: All photos via Facebook/Sai Mai Must Survive.