Photographer reacts to getting missing wedding photos, camera gear back

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MADISON (WKOW) — A Madison photographer has recovered a couple’s wedding photos after they went missing last week.

“We’ve been celebrating ever since because it’s literally a miracle this could have happened, getting this amount of gear and the wedding images,” said photographer Erika Diaz.

Milwaukee newlyweds Alex and Chelsy Holat faced devastating news when their photographer, Diaz, told them her camera gear had gone missing after their wedding earlier this month. Diaz said she left the bag of cameras and memory cards in a rental car and it was nowhere to be found when she returned to the rental company to look for it last weekend.

“It was nightmare after nightmare,” she told 27 News on Monday.

Diaz says she got a call Friday night from a man who claimed he bought the gear at a gas station on Verona Road in Madison.

“At that point, I’m freaking out, hyperventilating,” she said.

Madison police tell 27 News an officer went along with Diaz to recover the gear and officers are now investigating where it had been for a week.

The man who had the gear told Diaz another man approached him with a bag full of electronics while he was pumping gas. He said he offered the man $500 and took it home, then saw the news reports about what happened and contacted Diaz.

Diaz says when she got the gear home, she was able to use specialty software to recover almost all the images from the Holat wedding that had been erased from the memory cards.

While the process only took about 15 minutes, Diaz said it felt like hours. She was with her brother, sister, and husband at the time.

“When it started popping up August 9 images, we started screaming and jumping and crying,” she said. “We not  only have my things, but we have the wedding.”

She says she also discovered pictures and video taken after the wedding, showing people she did not photograph.

Police say this entire matter is still under investigation.

Diaz said when she told the couple that the photos had been recovered, they were over the moon. The two are currently on their honeymoon, and Diaz said she’s glad they don’t have to worry anymore.

“[Chelsy is] usually posting a lot of things, and she didn’t post for a whole week obviously, and now she’s posting her vacation and her happiness,” she said. “That obviously just brings me so much joy to see that she can enjoy her honeymooon.”

Diaz is taking away some valuable lessons, including to improve her process and her attitude toward her work.

“It really brought a lot of humility into my life,” she said. “I need to reflect on my character, I need to reflect on what I’m doing, how I’m doing things.”

But through it all, she said she’s grateful that the community took her message on social media and spread it far and wide.

“Thank you, thank you, thank you to everybody that helped, that shared, that prayed, that sent encouraging messages,” she said.

27 News reached back out to Enterprise Rent-A-Car to find out how its investigation is progressing. We will update you when we here back.

Jennifer Kliese

Jennifer Kliese

Weekend Anchor and Reporter, 27 News

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