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Guarding Your Gear


Protecting, indexing and ultimately safeguarding your equipment

Insurance is great. Something gets stolen, and they cut you a check.

Assuming the check covers replacing your gear, it’s all good, right? Sometimes, for sure. Maybe your old Nikon D300 was stolen and you can put the money towards a sexy new D800.

Sometimes it’s not so good, however. Many of us have become attached to pieces of our equipment, and enjoy them beyond the dollar value the insurance adjuster puts on them. Old lenses, bizarre attachments and adapters, items purchased on a trip with a loved one, or at the last minute before a shoot, all mean more to us than their replacement value, because it has a history and a story. The story is usually more than just “I ordered it online from B & H.”, though I enjoy that story just fine as well.

Taking care of equipment is obviously a prerequisite to making it last and maintain it’s value, not only to you, but in the event of resale.

But what do we do with our gear when it’s not three pelican cases deep in the back of a minivan?

Hopefully we store it in a very secure location, and doubly, we have details about it recorded and indexed in the event somebody removes it from said secure location.

To do this it’s really up to you how high tech or low tech you go, but there are a few keys to remember:

  1. Take record of serial numbers. Certain equipment can have more than one serial number, depending on the type of gear it is. Musical drums, for instance, can have a serial number for each individual part of the kit. Some things such as tripods may not have serial numbers, depending on the model and make.
  2. Take photos and video of the products. If you are keeping printed records, print out your photos or have them developed, and put video materials on DVDs or memory sticks and give them a look every couple of years to make sure they’re holding up. Some media goes wonky after a while. Also, replace this stuff as technology improves. I just looked at my old insurance records and all of my photos were 640 x 480. Time to take some new shots.
  3. Double check your insurance. If you use your gear for work, you’ll need to ensure that you have commercial insurance (at least here in Canada). Check with your insurance company and make sure your stuff is covered, and that you have enough coverage to replace everything you’ve got.  Don’t assume that your home contents insurance will cover it.
  4. Protect your records with redundancy.  If you’re using Excel, or one of the amazing home indexing tools (check out “Home Inventory” in the App Store, $19.99), make sure you save a copy to the cloud. If you are keeping print records, keep them in duplicate and put the second copy in another location (office, safe deposit box, etc.)
  5. Lock your stuff up. If you work from home, invest in a safe. If not a massively heavy one then one that can be bolted down or even hidden, depending on your home. If a thief really wants in they can still get in, or steal the entire safe, but every second you slow them down the better your chances are for not losing that item.


There are obviously more things that you can do, but these are the tips that have helped me sleep at night.

None of this will help out if you do something silly like leaving gear exposed in a car or out of site at a shoot, but a few best practices can’t hurt.

Happy shooting!

Russ Fairley


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