A photographer is desperately trying to locate a backpack filled with wedding photos that was lost on the subway over the weekend, and he's enlisting New Yorkers' help through a social media campaign.
Kurt Sneddon says he's devastated that the only copy of the wedding photos he shot at his friends' ceremony in Mamaroneck over the weekend is gone, and has been putting up flyers all over the subway asking people to help find them in a campaign he's calling #findourweddingpicsnyc.
"It's awful," he told News 4 New York, saying that having to tell his friends that all their wedding photos were gone was "the hardest thing of my life."
Sneddon has been working as a photographer in New York City since moving from Australia last year with his wife, a musical theater actress. He says he works mainly on headshots but agreed to work a wedding for his friends.
After the wedding, he hopped a train back to New York and transferred to the subway, juggling various gear and equipment. He had his backpack with the sole camera and memory card he used to shoot the photos, along with a mic stand, a tripod and lighting gear.
"This is the one window of time I can't believe I wasn't more careful with," said Sneddon, acknowledging that there's always a "danger period" between shooting the photos and backing them up on a computer.
"The trains were messed up a little bit, and I had to catch the B from 145th — I usually catch the D express," he said. "I went local all the way, and I had to get out at 14th.
"But I don't know the subway system as well as I should, and at 34th Street, an announcement comes on that the next stop is West 4th. I go 'crap' — and out the door I went," he said.
Flustered and distracted, Sneddon proceeded to go to the rental store to drop off all his photography equipment. As soon as he turned everything over, he realized something was missing.
"I turned around and went, 'Hold on,'" he said. "I felt that lack of an extra bag."
That's when it dawned on him that he'd left the grey Thule backpack containing the camera and memory card of photos on the train.
Sneddon had a complete meltdown.
He jumped in a cab and tried to chase the train down the line, even though he knew it was way too late. Despondent, he walked back to the subway station at West 4th to ask if the attendant had gotten a lost backpack. He had no luck, though the attendant promised to to call the other local station attendants to see if they'd seen it.
Sneddon spent the rest of the day at the end of the B line in Brighton Beach, asking everyone down there about the bag. Nothing came up.
"The next thing I was faced with was how to find this bag and how to tell my friends. It became pretty evident pretty quickly I needed to tell them," he said.
"They were as excellent as they could be," he said, but "I was devastated for them. It's awful."
Sneddon realizes now that getting his bearings while shooting a wedding for the first time in a new city turned out to be more difficult than he anticipated.
"There was a multitude of little things gone wrong that led to this," he said. "I guess I was out of my comfort zone. I didn't have a system in place, I've never a shot a wedding in New York before."
Sneddon says he's using the money he was paid for the wedding as the reward for whoever turns over the camera and memory card. Barring that, he plans to return the money to his friends. He's filed reports with the MTA and police.
An MTA spokesman says people who find themselves in a similar situation can file a claim on their website, or visit the NYCT Lost and Found at the 34th Street-Penn Station stop.
The silver lining in all of this, Sneddon says, has been the incredible outpouring of support he's gotten from strangers as the posters and #findourweddingpicsnyc campaign have gone viral.
"I've been absolutely amazed at the people in this town," he said. "Some have called me just to say they're feeling for us. Others have sent SMS to make sure we know about the MTA lost-and-found. One lady who works at the MTA went to the lost-and-found on her lunch break to 'see what she could do.' Many have taken photos and tweeted or posted in social media with our hashtag."
Sneddon is hoping for the best. If anyone finds his backpack, he can be reached at 917-826-4838.