Bring Lost Cameras Home with a Digital Summoning Spell


Oh no, you just lost your camera! (Not really, but let’s pretend.)

But never fear: writer Andrew McDonald employs a clever trick to call home his wayward cameras.

In the event that he accidentally leaves it behind, Andrew created special picture-messages specifically to be found by anyone snooping through his camera’s memory.

Discovering a delicious mélange of jokes and guilt trips (and bribery) will prod all but the most heartless to hand your camera back over to you.

How to Summon Home a Misplaced Camera

p.s. For more inspiration, browse Andrew McDonald’s pictorial guide!
p.p.s. Thanks to reader Jay for the tip! Drop us a line anytime, y’all.

Grab a whiteboard or some paper and markers — we’re going to craft a series of photos that live on all of your memory cards, urging anyone who finds them to be a good egg and return them to you.

Step 1: Write Your Messages

Before you start taking photos, take some time to fine-tune your message. Here’s some tips for getting off on the right foot with your future hero:

  • Make it personal: Introduce yourself and thank your camera-finder profusely.
  • Make it clear that you and your camera are BFFs: Get it across that you were made for each other. It is the groove to your needle, the Cherie to your Punky, the pineapple to your upside-down cake.
  • Make ‘em laugh: You can win friends and influence people through laughter. (Also: the best medicine, unless you actually really sick, in which case penicillin is good too.) Throw in a few funny one-liners, or recall the amusing anecdote about the time you and your camera met Abbot and Costello.
  • Stand out: Use big, high-contrast letters so that they show up well on a viewfinder.
  • Leave your deets: Don’t forget the important part: your contact info. You can supply your email address; or your phone number; or the location of the secluded park bench upon which you sit all day long, gazing forlornly at the swans as you reminisce about the good times you and your camera once shared. Sniff.

Step 2: Location Scouting

Having a solid message is good, but you’ll also want to seek out a few photogenic backdrops to provide an appropriately scenic ambiance.

The key here is to take pictures anywhere you think your camera might be found: if the finder recognizes their local playground, town green, or wicker warehouse, they’ll be more likely to think of you as a friendly neighbor.

Keep it interesting — but also inoffensive, just in case the person who picks up your camera has delicate sensibilities. They may not be amused by your abattoir background.

Step 3: Photoshoot!

Now’s the fun part: go out and take those pictures! Take lots; you can always delete the ones you don’t like.

The messages should be super-easy to read. Focus on the words on the signs, rather than on the pretty pretty horse standing off in the distance. It’s OK if the background is a little out-of-focus, since these pix are all about the words.

Don’t neglect your background, though! Match the light on your sign to the light in your background. If one is in shadow and the other is in direct sun, you’ll have a hard time exposing for both.

Standing between your lovely foreground and your gorgeous background is an irresistible person holding a sign. Before you head out, decide whether you want that person to be you, or one of your cute flirty friends. Not that we condone lookism, but sometimes a pretty face can go a long way.

Step 4: Permanent Residence

Most cameras have a feature that lets you to mark certain photos as “do not delete.” Use that feature to make your summoning spell delete-proof so you’ll never have to worry about it disappearing.

  • On Canon SLRs like the XTi, you can click “Protect” in the viewing Menu and then choose your images.
  • When viewing images on Nikon SLRs like the D70, you can press the button with the key icon to protect the file.
  • Olympus models like the E420 also have a button with a key icon for protecting files.
  • Sony SLRs like the A380 allow you to protect images by clicking the “Fn” button, then arrowing over to “Protect.”

And while you’re at it, don’t forget to duplicate your messages on every memory card you own. Soon you’ll have a gaggle of yous all pleading for a safe return.

Best of luck with your summoning spell! Hopefully you’ll never need it, but if one day you do, you’ll say, “whew.”

Take It Further

Posted in Tips