If you like photos of snowboarding, you are probably familiar with Mike “Yosh” Yoshida. As a former staffer and photo editor of Snowboarder Magazine and currently working for brands and mags all over, his photos have wound up on covers, ads, and screens around the the world for the better part of two decades. An enjoyer of karaoke, puffy shoes, and System of a Down, Yosh has brought more smiles to faces than Colgate (even though he’s more of a Tom’s of Maine guy). Yosh is really down to earth and so if things go sideways, it’s not out of the norm for him to take a bad situation and make it pretty funny on the internet. The Alaska-born, Washington-bred, current SoCal-ian had his camera gear stolen recently in Seattle, and if you weren’t following along on his Instagram, he kind of found his gear and the people that robbed him? Read on as we make him relive it. – Mark Clavin
(via text interview)
So you got all your camera stuff stolen a month or so ago?
Hold up, I’m grabbing coffee right now.
Are you going to steal that coffee to get back at the world?
Yo, I’m back at my comp.
You didn’t answer my question, did you purchase the coffee?
Yes, I got about 90% of my camera gear stolen in Seattle about a month ago. It was a classic smash-and-grab scenario and they also got my computer, clothes, and hard drives. I didn’t steal the coffee, but I did accidentally forgot to pay. But it’s my friends coffee shop, so I’ll just pay extra the next time I stop by.
Ha. Not for you getting ripped off. That laugh was for the coffee. Any favorite articles of clothing go missing?
It’s cool, you can laugh at both. I had a pair of Volcom x Outerbanks Collab sweatshorts that I dearly miss. They had a cool tie dye print and were unusually soft.
That’s kind of a nightmare scenario, coming back to your car with gear missing. Is this the first time it has happened to you?
Yeah, it was a surreal feeling. At first I thought that maybe just one bag had gotten stolen, but they got the camera bag and my roller bag which had all the computer, hard drives, chargers, etc. I had some camera equipment stolen in the early 2000s, but it was just a minimal film setup, a guitar, and some recording equipment. That was a really stupid one. I left all that gear in the back of my girlfriend’s car and we didn’t lock the doors, so the thief just went in and stole everything.
Yeah, on the bright side at least this time it was an actual B+E, not just an open door. Does that make it a bit easier?
No, it doesn’t make it any easier, but I am grateful that I had everything backed up and I had my snow season edited down into DNGs. So in that sense, I am lucky. It was nerve-wracking wondering if I had actually backed everything up. I had to wait until I got home to check the drives to see if I had everything.
That is a huge relief. Obviously you are not an expert, but any tips on NOT getting your gear stolen? Was having insurance worth it?
I mean, I would say never leave your camera bag in a car unattended. We were headed to a Mariners game and I knew there was no way we could have brought the gear inside the stadium, but in retrospect we could have parked in a better parking garage with security. We parked in a paid lot that we thought had security, but obviously there was none. I guess if you are forced to leave gear in the car, at the least you should consolidate your items behind the drivers seat and cover it with a hoody or something dark. We had a minivan and they smashed the back window out and took things that were close to the back. Having insurance is always worth it, and it gives you peace of mind just in case anything happens. Always back up your drives and try to have one on you at all times. I wish I would have grabbed my Contax T2, but I don’t think they really allow cameras besides iPhones into stadiums.
So really this is the MLB’s policy fault. But you still have a half happy ending…and that is the reason I wanted to talk about your situation. You posted about your stolen gear online. What came about from your posts?
So actually it wasn’t my posts that helped get my camera back. Randomly, I got a DM from an architectural photographer from San Francisco, Joshua Barnard, and he said that he thought he might have purchased my camera on ebay. I got on the phone with him the next day and he said that the seller told him to wipe the card once he got the camera. Josh was smart enough to check the card and then found my name in the metadata of the files.
He then took the time to contact via Instagram and asked if I had a camera stolen recently. After we confirmed that the serial numbers matched, he contacted ebay and PayPal to see if he could get a refund and then send my camera back. ebay was no help, as they told him to send the camera back to the seller to get a refund, but PayPal hooked it up and refunded him and then he shipped me my camera back. Everything was intact minus the strap and the batteries.
Another tip for beginners: Put all your info in the metadata. I didn’t know people still used ebay. Is that seller still selling online?
Yeah, it’s a setting, in camera where you have your name embedded in each file.
ebay did not care nor understand what was going on. The seller still has an active account, but it looks like he hasn’t sold anything since. I actually contacted him because I got his account info from Josh. We went back and forth and he was apologetic and said he bought it from what he thought was a reputable person at a casino in Washington. He wouldn’t specify the person’s phone number or what platform the transaction happened on. He was helpful until I got the camera back and downloaded photos of the thieves taking test shots of the inside of their house. I sent him the photos and asked, “Recognize any of these people?” And he has since gone dark and won’t reply to my messages.
I also didn’t know there were such things as “reputable casinos.” They must have never seen Walk Hard with The Rock.
He even sent me a bill of sale that he allegedly bought the camera from this person. The funny thing is that he bought it for $1200 and it is a $5000 camera. He sold it for $3500 on Ebay, so he had to have known it was stolen. No one in their right mind would sell a camera like that for such a low price.
True, and in the photo of their house, you saw the other gear? No news on the lens, hard drives or computer?
No news, but in the photo you can see my camera bag and all the gear and my laptop. There’s a guy on the couch with a rolled up dollar bill next to him. Oh, also I started to put AirTags on my gear. If a thief has an iPhone it will notify them that there is an AirTag nearby, but if you hide it really well in the bag, maybe there is a chance you can track your gear.
Still crazy that you got any of your gear back.
Yeah, the customer service guy said that he had worked at ebay for seven years and only had one other instance where this had happened. I have his return address and googled it. He lives in Burien, right near SeaTac airport, although the building at the address does not match the photo of the theft den that I had on the card.
What is your setup these days for photos?
Is this part of the interview still or are we off the record?
On the record. Why? Is it a secret?
Canon R5 is my main body. I am still kind of rebuilding my setup, but so far I have a RF 24-70 and an RF 70-200 f4. I’m looking to get another EF 15mm fisheye with RF adapter. I’ve been shooting an old Rebel 2000 with a 90mm lens for film photos.
Do you change your setup when you are shooting your personal work around Oceanside?
Yeah, I tend to shoot more film around Oceanside and in personal work. It’s a looser process and allows me to not be so hypercritical because I can’t see the photo instantly and think about how to make it perfect. The price of film and processing is through the roof these days, but I found a developer that will develop and do hi res scans for ten bucks a roll.
I was using my Contax T2 a bunch for shooting around Oceanside and for quick fun moments in the snow. It’s a super versatile tool for shooting on the fly and not having to think too much. The photos from that camera usually turn out so sick!
You have any other zines coming up?
I have plans to put another one out in the fall. It’s going to be the same size format as the last two. This will be the last of a trilogy and then I want to try making a book and/or moving on to different size formats and or mediums.
Woah! Any sneak peak on what the topic would be? If it is part of a trilogy with the previous zines focused on Japan and then Canada, I am guessing it’ll be a USA-based zine?
Yes, this one will be US-based. I don’t want to give too much away, but hopefully it will turn out sick!
Last question, was the Mariners game worth it?
Absolutely not. I mean, they won. But no.
But at least you got this interview?
UPDATE*: The SELLER HAS RECENTLY LISTED POKEMON CARDS FOR $650.00.