Engaged couple walk in wooded area of Reinhardt Redwood Forest. Groom looks back and bride, with sun shining through. photo by bay area engagement photographer philippe studio pro

No Bay Area Engagement Photographer Should Face This


December 30, 2021

First off, this is not your typical engagement session blog post by a bay area engagement photographer.  Yes, we will include photos of what we captured below.  And the session itself was amazing.  It happened at Reinhardt Redwood Park in Oakland, an area frequented by bay area engagement photographers.  Dina and Chee were awesome to work with and we had a great time with their engagement photos. They really wanted a woodsy feel, and I think we achieved that!

But this blog is more about what happened after the shoot. Here is the story….

Bay Area Engagement Photographer Held at Gunpoint

Towards the end of the shoot, I was busy showing Dina and Chee the photos we captured on my camera’s monitor when we were approached by two men.  One with a gun pointed at me and demanding for me to hand over my camera to them. This is an experience that more and more bay area engagement photographers are facing in the city. It’s crazy that we are forced to risk our livelihoods for photoshoots amidst growing brazen crime nowadays.

After using some profanity at me, the man without the gun began to approach to take my camera, while the other man kept his gun pointed at me.  Dina interjected, asking if by chance we could keep the memory cards from their shoot.  They said No.  But before they could answer, I began to proceed to remove the memory card.  The man who was approaching me moved quickly to attempt to take the camera from me before I could remove the memory cards.  

At this point, I saw an opportunity and instead of give him my camera, I grabbed him and got him in a choke hold.  Meanwhile, my other hand grabbed my knife from my pocket and put it to his neck. I then turned to the shocked man with the gun and told him that if he wanted to shoot me then his friend was going to die too.  I don’t think they expected this out of a small in stature bay area engagement photographer such as myself.

At the same time, I started backing up towards the wooded area. When I was close enough, I pushed the man I had in my hands to the ground. I then ran as fast as I could into the woods hollering to draw attention to myself. The two men pursued me into the woods (and thankfully left my couple and assistant alone). But they couldn’t keep up and I came out on a street where I found a good Samaritan who helped me call the cops. When we arrived back at the scene with the police, they found that the man with the gun actually attempted to fire it. It must have misfired because we found the bullet!  

After realizing this, I am so thankful to have walked away with my life, and with nobody injured.  They weren’t even able to take any of my equipment.  I know that not everyone who experiences something like this is so lucky.  Doing photo sessions as a bay area engagement photographer has become a risky business in the city.  It’s sad that we need to watch our backs and remember to not shoot after dark for fear of theft and our lives being threatened.  This experience has definitely changed the way I will approach bay area engagement photography sessions from now on.

In any case, maybe I will think a little harder next time before taking such big risks. But moral of the story is to be careful out there. Whether you are a bay area engagement photographer, or doing photoshoots in other cities, you never know when the unexpected can happen. Luckily in this situation nobody was hurt and Dina and Chee still got their engagement photos. We are looking forward to their wedding in February 2022! Stay safe everyone!

Don’t think all of our engagement sessions are like this! This was one in a million. Check out some of our other engagement blog posts for sessions that are always fun and adventurous sessions.