The Best Way to Get a Lost Camera Back

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It happens. Travel is unpredictable. Things get lost – socks, jackets, (gulp) cameras. We can’t help you with the stray socks or missing jackets, but here’s one of the best ways to make sure your camera finds its way home.

It’s simple. Find a piece of paper. Write this on it: If you’ve found this camera, email me at: your email here. Make it large and very clear, and take a picture of it with your camera. Keep that image in your camera always. Why? Because humans are curious and whoever finds your camera will scroll through the photos and come across the photo. If that person happens to be nice (and we believe there are those people in the world), they will email you and let you know. You can take it from there.

For a humorous look at one person’s take on this, check this out. Happy, safe travels. Try to keep track of your camera but do the above just in case.

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  1. I was travelling for a a year around Europe, and got small round pet-tag made up at a key copy place, with my name, mobile and email on it. I attached it where the strap joins the body. I never lost it, but if I had I hoped some kind soul would let me know!

    It also comes in handy photographing animals and babies, because it jingles around and gets their attention!

    By Kate
      June 16, 2010 – 5:34 pm   Permalink
  2. Fantastic tip!

    We once found a camera on top of a mountain. By watching the pictures on the camera we could find out which car the guy was driving. We kept looking for this car during the entire holiday and finally got the chance to return the camera to its owner. The guy was so thankful!

      June 17, 2010 – 2:37 am   Permalink
  3. oh super clever tip!

    By tin
      June 17, 2010 – 7:50 am   Permalink
  4. Great idea, and in my classes and on my tours I also suggest that my students use a simple label maker to put labels on the outside of all their gear. Camera, tripod, cell phone, memory cards, backup hard drives, laptop, pretty much anywhere I can put a label, I do, because I, too, believe that the majority of people are good, and if I found someone’s property that had an easy way for me to contact them and get it back, I would.

      June 17, 2010 – 8:23 am   Permalink
  5. Lost camera. I use the following. I scan my business card, and write it to an empty memory card and then make it “read only”. This way, it will always stay on the memory card as the first picture. So if I might lose my camera, I hope the finder will at least send back the memory card with a couple of thousand valuable pictures… During holidays, I copy my card frequently to my notebook to minimize eventual loss.

    By Bernard
      June 17, 2010 – 9:53 am   Permalink
  6. we found a camera in rome in the floor of a taxi and bent over backwards trying to find its owners. scrolling thought he pictures we saw one of them standing in front of a hotel with a particular name. we called the hotel but they were unable to help. another picture contained the name of the college the son graduated from. we called that college when we got home. ultimately no one helped us make the connection to the camera’s owners. we ended up giving it to our kid. but we tried our HARDEST! if only the owners had these tips to help them recover their memories.

    By lisa Dowling
      June 23, 2011 – 8:26 am   Permalink
  7. Hey Lisa,

    Wow, you really went to great lengths. That’s very admirable. Like you said, you did your best.


    By Kent
      June 23, 2011 – 9:19 am   Permalink
  8. Have used this technique for a while, but sometimes, despite protecting it, I manage to delete the picture by mistake.

    I use a slight variation – I use a text editing program, type in my email & name in huge letter & take a screenshot then upload it to the memory card & lock it.

      June 24, 2011 – 1:45 am   Permalink
  9. Great tip! At least if the camera gets lost there is a chance you might get it back. If on the hand it’s stolen and the thief has some conscience left you might arrange to get at least the photos back. We all know that most of the time the photos are more valuable than the camera itself!!

    By Nikos
      June 24, 2011 – 1:46 am   Permalink
  10. I lost my camera during a picnic at the lock of local river. The lock-keeper found it, scrolled through the photos and found pictures of a dishwasher. He put 2 and 2 together and searched for the item on ebay – I then received a message via ebay to say he had found it! Fantastic detective work. I hadn’t even realised I’d lost it till the night before.

    By Denise
      June 24, 2011 – 3:47 am   Permalink
  11. I recently left my camera in the playground at a grocery store. Fortunately, someone turned it in and it was waiting for me in the lost and found. I too believe most people are kind and honest. I do like this idea, and will implement it …but probably with just one photo!

    By Julie
      June 24, 2011 – 6:50 am   Permalink
  12. Julie,
    Glad to hear that someone got your camera back to you. Like we said, we do believe there are those good people in the world. Give the idea a try and better yet, don’t lose your camera!
    Eileen H.

      June 24, 2011 – 8:32 am   Permalink
  13. Denise,
    That guy deserves a prize. Amazing! Glad your camera found its way back to you.
    Eileen H.

      June 24, 2011 – 8:33 am   Permalink
  14. Nikos,
    True, true. Years ago, my husband’s car was broken into on a European trip. Everything was stolen and the only thing he still misses is the camera and the film. Those photos could never be replaced. Now with digital, it’s a good idea to download your photos from time to time. Oh, yeah, and make a photo book so you’ll always have them (couldn’t help it! You know we’re fond of books here.).
    Eileen H.

      June 24, 2011 – 8:35 am   Permalink
  15. Alastair,
    Great idea!
    Eileen H.

      June 24, 2011 – 8:36 am   Permalink
  16. We lost our camera while traveling home from Disneyland. The loss of all our pictures was devistating! Fortunately we were able to call places we had stopped along the way and discovered it had been turned in at one of this stops. We were never so grateful for honest people and to have all our photos and camera returned. We have since labeled everything. But what a fabulous tip, will be doing this as well. Thanks!!!

    By Sharlon
      June 24, 2011 – 10:03 am   Permalink
  17. Sharlon,
    If this tip helps even one person get their camera back — it’s worth it. Glad you got your camera back and hope it never strays again, but just in case, doesn’t hurt to follow the tip.
    Eileen H.

      June 24, 2011 – 10:39 am   Permalink
  18. I have my name and addres on a text file saved on memory card.
    Also Canon let you -
    1. save your name on the camera
    2. regester your camera with Canon, this also means if it is stollen any shop the camera is taken to should check the Canon register to check who owns the camera.

    By Keith
      June 24, 2011 – 11:08 am   Permalink
  19. Hey Keith,

    Thanks for the tips! That’s all good to know.



    By Kent
      June 24, 2011 – 11:53 am   Permalink
  20. The text file is an awesome backup to the photo of your email address. I would keep the email on the memory of the camera itself (most digitals allow you to store a few photos locally), this way incase the person decided to keep the memory stick they would still find your email in the photos left on the camera.

      June 24, 2011 – 1:15 pm   Permalink
  21. Just take a photo of your business card making it the first photo after refreshing your memory. Also I’ve found that free mailing labels that you get from charities often fit on batteries or under covers.

      June 24, 2011 – 3:45 pm   Permalink
  22. Hey Lorna,

    Another fantastic tip, thank you!



    By Kent
      June 24, 2011 – 4:52 pm   Permalink
  23. I put a dog ID tag on my camera strap. That way who ever finds my camera that I love, it will hopefully be returned to me.

    By cindilb
      June 25, 2011 – 5:16 am   Permalink
  24. Have you received an email with a photo that shows this sign?:
    Hopefully, that would be the beginning of a communication to
    return it, not hold it hostage!!!

    By Conch
      June 25, 2011 – 6:07 am   Permalink
  25. Cindilib,
    That’s a great idea. My kids “borrow” my small point-and-shoot camera all the time. I think I might also put a leash on mine!
    Eileen H.

      June 25, 2011 – 8:03 am   Permalink
  26. Hey,
    Sounds like you have lost your camera. Here’s hoping the kidnapper reads the Blurberati Blog and will get it back to you! You never know…
    Eileen H.

      June 25, 2011 – 8:04 am   Permalink
  27. Several posts mention locking a picture/image on the camera’s card – how do you do that?

    By Virginia Glenn
      June 25, 2011 – 12:50 pm   Permalink
  28. Hey Virginia,

    This depends a bit on your camera, but usually you do this when reviewing your pictures. Look for a lock icon on your camera’s review interface. If you don’t see anything obvious check your camera manual or do an Internet search for your camera along with the phrase “write protect images.” That should do it.



    By Kent
      June 27, 2011 – 9:57 am   Permalink
  29. Not a new idea1?

      June 20, 2012 – 3:42 am   Permalink
  30. A couple tips.

    One, do the same thing for your mobile phone, except rather than a photo make sure you have an obvious entry in the contacts list that someone will know is you or someone close to you. For example, “Home” for your home number would be the first one I would go to in order to track down the owner. Or even a contact entry called “If Found”.

    Second, is if you tend to travel with several memory cards, rather than changing them when they fill up, instead change to the next one each day (even if you only have two, change between the two each day). Because if you lose your camera and never get it back, rather than losing (for example) 5 days in a row worth of vacation shots, you will only lose every 2nd or 3rd day or however many cards you have. So that three days you spent on some fantastic island won’t be completely lost, just a day of it. You will still have SOME of those shots.

    By Patrick
      June 20, 2012 – 6:18 am   Permalink
  31. Hey Patrick,

    Those are good tips. Particularly about the memory cards. There are also small storage devices out there that can read memory cards, so you can at least have a backup of your photos (just keep it separate from your camera).



    By Kent
      June 20, 2012 – 9:45 am   Permalink
  32. Hey Mark,

    Probably not a new idea. We’ve seen variations all over the Internet. I like the personal touch you bring to your “lost camera calling card.”



    By Kent
      June 20, 2012 – 9:48 am   Permalink
  33. Thanks for the great ideas. I lost two cameras in my pre-digital life – one in Buenos Aires and one in Bali. I did have a mailing label in both of them but never received a letter from anyone.
    Don’t carry your extra memory chip in the camera case. If you lose the case you lose everything.

      June 20, 2012 – 10:53 am   Permalink
  34. Oh my goodness! I’ve been doing this for years, and only last week wrote a blog about it suggesting other people do the same.

    Glad to know so many other people have been doing it too (great ideas and all that).

    My way is also to take a photo of my business card every time I start a new memory card on my camera.

    As for iPad / iPhone, those I have locked so you won’t be getting in to have access to find any contact numbers for Home etc, so instead with my iPad I have my contact details engraved on the back. Here’s hoping I won’t actually need that honest person to find it, but good to know they can track me down if they do.

      June 20, 2012 – 3:01 pm   Permalink

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