San Holo’s Photographer Stole My Camera The Night My Grandma Died

*The photos above are taken by San Holo’s Photographer (Roger Chen) courtesy of my camera.

Roger has been known as the “go-to photographer” in my community. He’s taken prom photos for my school as well as many others in our district. Wanting to break into photography like he had done successfully, I approached him to talk about our shared passion. We discussed the EDM shows that he has shot in the past, and how he went on tour with San Holo as his personal photographer. We became friends and he even acted as my mentor, helping me jumpstart my career.

I began trading gear with Roger in the summer of 2016. If I needed a lens he would let me borrow his; if he needed a camera for a shoot, I would lend him mine. After a few months of exchanging gear, Roger asked me to borrow both my camera and lenses for the first time (Canon 6D / Sigma 50mm 1.4 Art - $2,124)

The next time I hung out with Roger was with our mutual friend, Yaoyao. I left my camera in the backseat of her car, where Roger was sitting. When the 3 of us came back to head to another friend’s house, neither Yaoyao nor I suspected anything out of the ordinary.

Upon arrival to our friend’s house, I was suddenly informed that my grandmother had just passed away. Wanting to be with family, I left immediately with Yaoyao. As we were leaving, I checked the backseat of her car to find that my camera was nowhere to be found. We searched every inch of the car and even around our friend’s house. Nothing. Our friends, including Roger, came out, seeming concerned. Yaoyao and I retraced our steps, and since there were no signs of a break-in concluded that there were only two possibilities:

     1. Yaoyao didn’t lock her car and someone simply opened the door and stole my camera.

    2. Roger took it while we weren’t paying attention.  

The thought of Roger stealing my camera seemed ridiculous because he was so eager to lend a helping hand during the situation. Distraught by my grandmother’s recent passing, I didn’t give it a second thought. Yaoyao, who was utterly confused because she was certain she locked her car, felt horrible and decided to take responsibility; she offered to compensate me for the camera. In the meantime, she lent me her brand new Nikon that she was excited to take with her to college. Roger watched this unravel before his eyes - my grief and distress over my grandma and now the lost camera, and Yaoyao’s immense confusion and burden to take on the responsibility.

Months passed. Roger asked me for my camera charger and I let him borrow it. I didn’t think much about it until I saw a photo of what appeared to be my gear on Roger’s Snapchat. Suspicious, I checked Roger’s Flickr. Photos uploaded to Flickr automatically include the information of the camera being used. Roger had this information disabled. This meant that for every picture he posted, he made the extra effort to hide the camera data.

I confronted Roger with the evidence that I had, but he denied stealing my camera - stating that it was just a coincidence that all of our gear matched. The next day, Roger returned my camera with a poor excuse of an apology.

Roger has helped me in the past and was able to provide me with emails for managers of artists like Goldlink and Bryson Tiller. I respected him as a photographer and cherished him as a friend. But his decision to steal my camera cost me months of lost opportunities to further my career. I had worked for months to be able to afford that camera, and he took it away in the blink of an eye. After sharing my story with a few friends, I found out that I am not the only person who Roger has manipulated and stolen from. He is even known to scam people out of concert tickets through ravExchange. After learning all of this, I thought it was necessary to let people know about his actions to prevent anything similar from happening again.

Be careful who you surround yourself with and who you choose to trust. 

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