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Aylesford couple behind Costa Weddings UK launch GoFundMe page after £5,000 camera gear stolen from wedding

A photographer who started his business from scratch says his soul was shattered after £5,000 worth of camera equipment was stolen from a wedding he was filming.

Constantin and Irina Culic were left with a “tummy ache” after discovering that two Nikon cameras, adapters, lenses and batteries were missing.

The couple moved to England from Moldova seven years ago with no money or family and launched Costa Weddings UK in May 2019.

Constantin said: “When I shot my first wedding, it was like your first kiss – it gave you that power and that excitement, and made me believe I could do it.

“Through word of mouth and referrals, I started getting more clients.

“It’s very emotionally rewarding work, with some brides saying my photos made them cry.”

The Aylesford resident has been hired to do a job at a location in Hertfordshire.

Constantin and Irina Culic, of Aylesford, had their photography equipment stolen at a wedding. Photo: Irina Culic

He said: “I’ve learned that when you go to a wedding you have to have options and be prepared for unexpected events.

“On a one-day wedding, I have everything with me, including four cameras, longer lenses and extra batteries.

“Sometimes you have to leave gear somewhere because you can’t wear four cameras around your neck all the time.”

He added: “This particular wedding was a very private venue, in the middle of nowhere and there were only guests, staff and maybe a few hotel guests in attendance.

“I was supposed to finish at 9:30 p.m. and at 9 p.m. it was the cutting of the cake and the first dance. I only took one wide-angle lens with me to take the last photos.

The couple takes custom wedding photos.  Photo: Irina Culic
The couple takes custom wedding photos. Photo: Irina Culic

“When I went to get my things at 9.40pm my bag was gone – it felt like my hands and arms had fallen off.

“It was a shock to me, and honestly, I didn’t know what to do.”

Constantin had hidden his bag under a table with the guestbook to make sure to “hide it in plain sight”.

The lost equipment amounted to around £5,000.

Not only that, but Constantine’s car keys were in the bag that was stolen.

Constantin was shocked to find his £5,000 gear had been stolen.  Photo: Irina Culic
Constantin was shocked to find his £5,000 gear had been stolen. Photo: Irina Culic

He says he didn’t get home until 3 a.m. because he had to wait for a friend to drive him with a spare key.

In addition to the equipment that was lost, many images from the wedding were also on the cameras.

“I told the couple, they stopped the music and asked everyone to take a look at my bag,” Constantin explained.

“The most hurtful part was that my soul was in that bag, and it kind of crushed my soul.

“This couple lost memories of their most important day, I can’t do that again.

Constantin hopes his story can be a warning to other budding photographers.  Photo: Irina Culic
Constantin hopes his story can be a warning to other budding photographers. Photo: Irina Culic

“It was a really sad end to a beautiful marriage – I was devastated.”

Irina previously worked as a sales assistant and Constantin worked night shifts in a warehouse, but they quit their jobs to pursue photography full-time.

“This year is the first time we’ve made photography our full-time job,” Constantin explained.

“On a few occasions, I would go straight from my night shift in the morning to the wedding – slept in the parking lot for a few hours – filmed the wedding, came home, slept, then went back to work.”

The couple contacted their insurance company after the theft but were told they weren’t covered as the item had been left unattended.

The couple launched the photography business in May 2019. Photo: Irina Culic
The couple launched the photography business in May 2019. Photo: Irina Culic

They also filed a police report the following day, with Irina adding: “The only update they gave us was that they would be sending an officer to the scene.

“The establishment did not have CCTV in the area where the bag was taken.

“A member of staff checked the cameras at the entrance and said he couldn’t see anyone coming out with the bag.”

Constantin hopes his story can warn others in the industry not to make the same mistake.

He said: “I say this to all my fellow photographers and friends because I want to raise awareness.

Irina Culic, from Aylesford, runs a photography business with her partner.  Photo: Irina Culic
Irina Culic, from Aylesford, runs a photography business with her partner. Photo: Irina Culic

“Looking back, I think ‘it could have happened so many times’, but you don’t expect a person to do that.”

“Thinking about it, I sincerely hope it was someone who didn’t know the couple,” Irina reflected.

“As horrible as it sounds, I wouldn’t want a family member or friend to do something like this. It’s just terrible.”

The pair said they are now investing in Apple AirTags, which can track items through your phone.

Irina started a page on GoFundMe, so they can raise money again to buy new gear.

Constantin was shocked to find his £5,000 camera gear had been stolen.  Photo: Irina Culic
Constantin was shocked to find his £5,000 camera gear had been stolen. Photo: Irina Culic

She said she ‘thought they would only get around £150’ and Constantin mentioned that ‘seeing the messages of support has given me hope’.

Click here to donate.

The couple have raised almost £1,300 so far and received 52 donations.


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