When Was the Last Time You Screwed Up a Shoot?

When Was the Last Time You Screwed Up a Shoot?

We're all human and we all screw up. Though, as Photographers,  its not always noticeable to those around us. Of course we still notice, whether at the shoot, or after while we're reviewing our images. Here I've collected a bunch of screw up stories from some friends so that maybe next time you can think of these and not feel so bad.

I'll start off with a couple of my own.

You've probably noticed the image above of Slash from Guns 'n' Roses. Now, while the shoot itself wasn't entirely screwed up, I did manage to screw up a personal part of it. I used to carry my Mamiya 645 PRO TL Medium Format Film camera with me to a lot of celebrity shoots. After getting what we needed digitally, I'd fire off a roll or two of film for myself and always enjoyed making a print from each shoot. This particular time I was so wrapped up with everything that was going on since I was photographing a hero of mine, (I've played guitar since I was 10 and have always been a huge Guns 'n' Roses fan), that I totally forgot the sync speed on the camera is 1/60 and not 1/250 like my Canons. There I was firing away on a roll of film with Slash standing just feet from me and I had no idea that hardly anything was actually registering on my film. When I got home from the shoot I ran down to the lab and handed over my film. I asked the guy behind the counter that always handled whatever film I brought in to please try and have it for me later in the afternoon. He told me he couldn't make me any promises and I begged, telling him that I had just shot Slash and was dying to see the film. Back at the office, I waited for his call and just as I was about to head home for the night my phone rang. He let me know the film was ready, but I could hear in his voice something was up. I picked up the film, thanked him and had barely taken two steps outside when I started to tear into the envelope. Inside I found 12 proofs, each one containing just a top hat. The rest of the frame was completely black because I was over the sync speed. The guys in the lab must have had a field day with that one. The guy behind the counter and I still have a laugh about it when I go into the lab and I was so embarrassed at the time that I threw out the proofs.

More recently, just tonight I was packing for an early morning flight and took almost a half hour to fold a giant 5 in 1 reflector. I've never gotten the hang of those damn things.

Now that I've thoroughly embarrassed myself, here's some more from other Photographers. (Names withheld to protect the innocent)

"I backed my bosses car into the wall on Friday"

"Had trouble putting together a foldable softbox before a big shoot... while the client watched."

"Caught my leg on a trailer and ripped the entire leg of my pants, had to run to a store blocks away for new pants."

"Didn't know how to get the car I was shooting into reverse."

"I had a Rig pole slip out of my hand onto a Porsche."

"I arrived to a big shoot without my camera... had everything else, but no camera."

"I once shot an entire daytime wedding outdoors at ISO 2000."

"Thought I had put in a new CF card, but had actually reformatted over half my shoot."

"I have one of those pop up light tent things you use to shoot products, but it's a massive 5x5x5ft one. If flew open when I was taking it out of the box and after a year I still cant collapse the damn thing."

"I was shooting an interview and after ten minutes of talking I realized the mic wasn't plugged in so I had no audio. Told them to revisit it and go into more depth on those points so I could get more content."

"I got pooped on by a bird at a wedding while shooting the best man's speech."

"For the past year or so I've had an ongoing group chat on my phone with some friends. These group chats might include some... less than artistic nudes. Anyway, I was shooting portraits for a big company and had gotten to the CEO. We needed a prop so I gave him my phone. As I'm shooting away I get a message and he looks down at the phone and freezes for about 15 seconds. My friend had sent me a picture of a girl with her (too hot for Fstoppers) and the message Thank God its Friday. Had the most awkward conversation of my life while trying to explain the situation. I ended with, 'At least its Friday.'"

"The door broke off an Aston Martin racecar while I was pushing it into position... right in front of the owner of the race team I was shooting for."

"Shot 77 photos of a model with no memory card."

"Split my jeans wide open while shooting Bon Jovi."

"I shot a wedding and was waiting for the bride to enter. Doors open, bride and groom's kids walk in followed by what I thought was a surprisingly young looking bride and her brother... I shoot like crazy making sure I get good photos while they walk down the aisle. Check the camera to make sure I got it. Then the bride and her brother walk in, turns out they had 4 kids, one of them a 15 year old daughter. I got one blurry photo of the actual bride."

I love when Fstoppers posts turn into real discussions like our argument discussions about Photoshop. So lets hear from you readers. When was the last time you screwed up at a shoot? Share it in the comments!

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Jaron Schneider's picture

Went overseas to shoot architecture. Brought a ton of gear, schlepped it around, got to my location only to find I forgot the shoe to my tripod. I've also forgotten my battery more than a couple times because I was "being thorough" and left it in the charger.

Jayson Carey's picture

I've also forgotten my tripod shoe, but for an automotive shoot. Luckily I had my case of grip gear that I use for my car rigging with me. I pulled out my magic arm, attached it to one of the legs of my tripod, and used the camera mount at the other end.

I've done the same. My solution -- I put my car keys where I'm charging (or with something else that I might leave behind) because I can't leave without them.

Me, too. I use my car keys like that all the time. It has saved my butt countless times.

I am so paranoid, I detach the cord and run it through my key ring.

tristan lamour's picture

I've forgotten my battery before. I have even forgotten a memory card. My solution: Take a test shot before I leave the house. EVERYTIME!

Jayson Carey's picture

Before an engagement session, I was going through and dumping all the cards in my card wallet so that I'd be ready and wasn't carrying around old shoots with me. When I got to the location, I found that I had left that handy wallet right next to my computer, so I was cardless! Luckily, the shoot location was just down the street from my house, but from now on, I always have an emergency 16gb CF card stored elsewhere in my camera bag.

Had pretty much the same happen to me! I was doing a senior casual session. Had everything, except for my SD cards. Luckily, I lived 5 minutes an away from the location and the senior was very understanding!

Shannon Wimberly's picture

i was second shooting for a wedding photographer in St Louis, we were at a city park for a location shoot prior to the wedding.... we finished there and was leaving, i happened to turn back and saw that she left her memory card case on a picnic table from the last set of poses... ran got them.. she was so thankful, said OMG that would ruined her day and the wedding...... she never paid me the measly 150 bucks for helping that day......i thought is was a hero anyway....

Mike Pomazal's picture

I shoot a lot of architecture and I once forgot my tripod. I had a bunch of lightstands, lenses, backup cameras, everything, but no tripod.

Made the mistake of trying out a "new" vintage Miranda 35mm on some important shots on a wedding...
luckily I still had some digitals.

I shot 64 gigs on a Lexar card in Portland for a billion dollar company...my largest client. I came back to Phoenix to see the video and stills had a THICK green line through them. As it turns out, it was a bad card. My fault was not double rolling...D**n IT...and it stung to the tune of five figures (No charge for the shoot AND go back and reshoot it). Oh, Lexar sent me another card, but I've never used it.


Chris Helton's picture

who shoots an project, specifically one to this level, completely on one card??

Rafael Suárez's picture

Apparently, Peter Kertz.
But again, we are humans. And I am not justifying him, Im just saying that probably you and I have screw a shoot once... or twice.

Chris Helton's picture

sure but I dont think either of us would shoot a five figure campaign for a billion dollar company on a single card. Thats about as safe as shooting a weddings and handing the card to a 3 year old to take back to the office for you. Then again... guess its like wrecking a ferrari. You and I can gawk on the street corner, lol it was his ferrari.. and dont see either of us driving one hahaha

Rafael Suárez's picture

XD (y)

I had two cards in the camera, btw.

Perhaps you need to go back to kindergarten and learn to read. I wrote, "My fault was not double rolling...D**n IT", on a topic named, "When Was the Last Time You Screwed Up a Shoot?"

Chris Helton's picture

calm down sparky. just a discussion. I even said it was your shoot and we're just jealous bystanders.
...ohhh kittygarden to learn to read.... arn't you a clever one.

You're right. I'm still touchy.

Thanks for the laugh and great stories. My mistakes have been many, but packing three cameras and related gear, driving two hours, and then realizing I didn't have a single memory card (how is that even possible!) is one of my worst.

Shooting the first look of a wedding two weekends ago. The second last wedding of my season. Forgot that my shutter speed was 1/50th from a previous metering. All images had motion blur except maybe 3-4...convert to b&w and charge extra amiright?

While shooting a wedding a few weeks ago, I wasn't paying attention to how many shots were left on the card, and the card became full right after the bride and groom came down the aisle after the vows. Thankfully, there was no bridal party. We went into family photos about 5 minutes later, so I had time to change the card.

Same wedding, the bride and groom kissed so fast that the only shot I got was of them about 1/2 inch apart about to kiss. Even though the camera I was shooting with was a Canon 5D MKII, they were still faster :( They weren't bothered by it though, they apologized, actually.

A commercial shoot outside, when a sudden gust of wind knocked down my light stand holding an ABR800, Vagabond Mini II and a Photek 60" soft lighter II. $700 in damage. I had backup flashes and umbrellas, but it was embarrassing. 30 lbs. of sandbags did not prevent it from falling.

Forgot my WORST mistake - while unloading my car before sunrise, I put my backpack on a huge fire ant mound that was invisible in the dark. About 50 yards into my hike in the dark, I felt something stinging me, then many things stinging me. The huge wasp-like drone ants and their little siblings were all over me and all I had was a headlamp. Not a good morning, still have many small scars...

Trust me. Anything is better then a friend forgetting her camera for a shoot :-/

Bob Bell's picture

When I got my first Camera a couple of years back I checked to see how much memory was left on the card in the 'Format' screen. Somehow pressed yes to format and lost a whole days shooting with my freinds, who were dying from the heat and in no mood to go through it all again and instead wanted the beer I promised them for modelling for me.

At least it wasn't a wedding! :D

Jason Vinson's picture

got to a shoot with all my gear and realized i left my case of memory cards at the house. had to drive back home to get them.

I was trying to be quick so I jumped up to hit the hair light to kick it up a notch, I completely missed and The model in her heals reached up and tapped the button for me. :p

My second time being a second shooter for a wedding, I thought I left all of my SD cards at home. So I rushed to the nearest Wal-Mart to buy two 16gb cards. I was thirty minutes late.. The worst part, I found the SD cards in a different pocket of my bag at the end of the night! *facepalm*