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Current Events

Armed Men Rob Photographers, Bride & Groom During Photo Shoot

By Hanssie on December 23rd 2014

In November, a report released by the FBI labeled Oakland, CA as the nation’s leading city in terms of robberies. According to ABC News, on average, there is one robbery for every 82 residents and as the state’s third largest city with approximately 390,000+ residents, that’s quite a few robberies that are reported. (And the Oakland crime rate has reportedly lowered significantly in recent years).

This weekend, shortly after exchanging vows, a bride and groom asked their wedding photographers to do a quick photo shoot at Oakland High School, where they first met. The photographers, Helene Paz and her husband and three male videographers were wrapping up the photo shoot with the newlyweds and their two flower girls around 4:30pm on Saturday, when three men approached them with a gun in the parking lot. Paz, typically a maternity and portrait photographer, was the lead shooter and this was her first wedding.

The men held a gun to Paz’s head and demanded all of their equipment, totaling about $13,000-$14,000 and the contents of the victim’s pockets, including an iPhone, which was later recovered in a car  linked to the crime. None of the camera equipment has been recovered.

Paz and her husband’s cameras were insured, but the videographers’ equipment was not. Of course, everyone is hoping that, for the bride and groom’s sake, the only thing that cannot be replaced, the photos from the day will be recovered.

“I’m hoping people may know something … that we’ll actually get the pictures back,” Paz said Mercury News. “That’s all we really care about for the bride and groom.

UPDATED TO ADD: The photographers have set up an Indigogo campaign to recoup some of the equipment lost in the theft and cover some of the insurance deductibles. You can donate here.


There really isn’t anything you can do to fully prevent becoming a victim of violence. There are safety precautions you can take while shooting, and we give some tips on that in this article: PHOTOGRAPHER ATTACKED, BEATEN, AND ROBBED DURING WEDDING | 5 TIPS TO STAY SAFE. Always remember that nothing is worth your life and the lives of your clients, not even irreplaceable photographs.

There is a $25,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the suspects in this case. Anyone with information may call the Oakland police at 510-238-3326 or 510-238-3426 or Crime Stoppers at 510-777-8572.

[Via Mercury News]

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Hanssie is a Southern California-based writer and sometimes portrait and wedding photographer. In her free time, she homeschools, works out, rescues dogs and works in marketing for SLR Lounge. She also blogs about her adventures and about fitness when she’s not sick of writing so much. Check out her work and her blog at Follow her on Instagram

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Kiel MacDonald

    Oh Oakland…. how I don’t miss you — I previously worked there for a few months.

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  2. Helene Paz

    Thank you for your prayers concern. advice and Donations. One of the most important
    lessons learned is rotating cards as advised by Matthew above
    The case is moving forward and we can share more updates in the next few weeks.
    Let me know if you have any questions.
    Even the smallest donation is genuinely appreciated.

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  3. zaakir abdullah

    I’m licensed by the state of Ohio to carry a concealed handgun, bet your ass I’m carrying it (one of them) on every shoot.

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  4. Jim Duran

    This is sad and a tragic loss for all parties involved. I grew up in Oakland and I’m familiar with the location of the robbery. I think the lesson learned here is do not agree to take photos in a bad neighborhood such as Oakland. There are also reports of news reporters being robbed at gun point for their equipment while covering stories in Oakland.

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  5. J D

    Hopefully they can recover the images.

    Sad for the kids too. They had to see something that day that no one should ever have to see.

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  6. Rafael Steffen

    It is so sad to hear stories like this one, but in some cases insurance is the best way to go and you should only shoot in safer places.

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  7. Matthew Saville

    I know this is going to sound insensitive, but this is why I swap memory cards between locations, and prefer a camera that has dual card slots so one of those cards can go somewhere else in case of a mugging. I do hope the couple gets some of their wedding photos back, and I hope the criminals are caught. Thankful that nobody was hurt though…

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    • Graham Curran

      Even if everything was insured, it might have been difficult to recover the images so it’s good advice to back up or change out your media as frequently as practicable.

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  8. Ian Sanderson

    Could have ended worse! Thankfully no one was hurt

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  9. Tyler Friesen

    whats wrong with people!

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    • Dre Rolle

      It’s the holidays ironically, the number of robberies and thefts skyrocket this time of year. People are more relaxed and criminals take advantage of that. Its a sad world we live in.

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  10. Jeff Nasci

    This is exactly why I love my insurance and my CCW. One for my gear, the other for my life.

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  11. Kim Farrelly

    That is awful, thankfully nobody got hurt. Reading this makes me check my insurance again.

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  12. Dre Rolle

    It’s sad that during what’s suppose to be the happiest time or year, on top of the most important day of someone’s lives something like this happens. And to do it while kids are there is the worst part for me. Hopefully they recover all their equipment, photos and items.

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