Photographer Records Struggle with American Airlines After $20,000 in Gear Damaged

A video is gaining traction on Reddit and across the web today that documents a photographer’s struggle with American Airlines after he says he was asked to check his gear due to size restrictions on the plane he would be flying on that day.

According to photographer Yosef Shidler, of CJ Studios, he then witnessed what no traveling photographer would ever want to see — an American Airlines employee holding one of his lenses, with the rest of his equipment strewn across the tarmac below the plane. According to Mr. Shidler, the pelican case in which he had his gear in, having apparently been incorrectly and hastily placed onto the loading conveyor belt, fell while on its way to the plane’s cargo hold, falling an estimated 7 or 8 feet – causing the case to pop open and send Shidler’s gear flying across the hard tarmac cement.

Life as a traveling photographer is difficult enough. Not only are you constantly away from home, loved ones, and the luxury of your full gear closet – but you also likely spend entirely too long in airports, going through security and dealing with airport/airline staff who unfortunately could care less about you and your equipment. It’s no secret that when traveling you should do everything in your power to keep your gear with you, you just can’t control what will happen to it once it leaves your side, this is near the top of virtually every traveling photographer guide.

“I was horrified to see an American agent holding my lenses, which had been packed securely in my sealed Pelican case, in her hands and was informed that my case had fallen off the ramp from a height of about seven or eight feet.” Shidler says in his video description, he continues “I grabbed my cell phone and began filming as a baggage handler admitted that my case opened after it was dropped.”

Luckily for Shidler, he say’s that he was able to borrow some equipment from a friend to shoot the wedding he was traveling to attend. But this acts as another stark reminder to never let your gear out of your sight and use proper locks to prevent cases from opening in an event such as this where you either let your gear out of your sight or you don’t fly.

We have reached out to both American Airlines and Yosef Shilder for comment but as of publishing have not received a response. We will update in the event that we get one.

Anthony Thurston

Anthony is a Portland, Oregon based Boudoir Photographer specializing in a dark, moody style that promotes female body positivity, empowerment, and sexuality. Besides The Phoblographer, he also reviews gear and produces his own educational content on his website.