Every pro photographer has made the odd, usually humorous, mistake. Mostly, we tend to keep quiet about it in order to maintain the ‘illusion’ that we know what we’re doing! But, for your amusement, here are a few stories I’ve gathered from pro friends that show even photographers have days where they’d have been better off staying at home.
Leaving the lens cap on
This is the one I’ve been guilty of (and sadly, more than once!). The problem is that I grew up using film cameras – in particular medium format Hasselblads. And with these, when you had the lens cap on, you couldn’t see anything through the viewfinder.
Digital cameras don’t always work like that! There have been a few occasions where I’ve raised my camera to my eye, told the client I’m about to start shooting, only for them to utter a wry comment about how it might work better without the lens cap on. Ladies and gentlemen, there is no graceful way out of this one, except to laugh and try and bluff that you’re just checking they’re on the ball.
The wrong ISO
A photographer friend of mine was somewhat perplexed when she got home from shooting a wedding and discovered that her skies looked a tad overexposed. The mystery was solved after she checked her camera and discovered she’d managed to shoot the entire wedding on ISO1600, after failing to knock it back down from the inside of the church’s readings.
Fortunately, she’s somewhat of an expert with Photoshop, so was able to solve the problem, but she still groans with horror at the memory of it.
Using a wide-angle lens for portraits
Even pros when they first start out can be guilty of using the wrong lens for the job. When I first started out, I didn’t have the choice of lenses I have nowadays and only had a few zoom lenses.
There are a few disastrous shots from the past where my subject looks distorted and unnatural because I’d tried to use a wider angle than wise for a portrait. It’s not a mistake you make more than once!
Been late for a shoot
I’d like to stress before I start that this really wasn’t my fault. On the way to a shoot in Central London, my assistant and I got stuck in a hideous traffic jam caused by an accident.
This meant that, despite leaving double the amount of time we needed to get to the venue, we arrived somewhat flustered and late. My mood was also not improved by the car park attendant at the venue guiding me straight into a bollard as I tried to park. Fortunately, my car sustained no damage and the client (a top bigwig in the corporate world) was charming, but it wasn’t the relaxed start to a shoot I prefer!
None all of these have happened to me thankfully, but there are some gems out there. I’ve heard of a photographer trying to carry on doing a family portrait shoot while the family dog gleefully attempted to hump his leg, and another who had a baby projectile vomit over their camera in the middle of a shoot. The worst I’ve had on this front was a seven day old baby whose parents wanted him photographed just wrapped in a blanket. As you can probably imagine, the cold air had a rather unfortunate result and the cloth backdrop I always sensibly use for babies had to go straight in the wash when I got home.