What Was Your Most Embarrassing Photoshoot Mistake?

Sometimes, photoshoots go really smoothly, and sometimes, they do not go quite so smoothly. What was your most embarrassing mistake during a shoot? 

Coming to you from Kayleigh June, this fun essay features her discussing some of her worst and most embarrassing photoshoot mistakes. By far, my worst and most embarrassing mistake was when I was first starting out. I thought way too highly of my abilities with a camera, and it bit me in the butt and forever humbled me. The night before I was due to shoot eight headshots, I went out with some friends and brought my camera. The next day, my camera was still set to ISO 3,200 from the night before, and I never bothered to check my settings. I was using the original Canon 7D at the time, a camera that lost quite a lot of detail above ISO 1,600 or so, and let's just say I did not have to do much retouching on all those headshots because there wasn't anything left to retouch. I learned two lessons that day: always check your settings before a shoot and a bit of humbleness goes a long way. Check out the video above for June's story. 

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Cristian Perotti's picture

Mine was during a paid shoot. For some reason I still don´t know how it happened, the settings of my camera changed from RAW+JPEG to the lowest JPEG possible (S3). It changed in the middle of the shoot so half of the pictures were unusable. Needless to say, I had to re do the shoot a different day.

John Seigner's picture

Back in the day we shot hundreds of group photographs every year and forgetting to put film in the camera was an all too common mistake. I had 350 insurance agents lined up on the Red Terrace of the Banff Springs Hotel and I was using a Fujica gw690 and in my haste to get everyone set up I had forgotten to put film in the camera.

Alex Cooke's picture

Ooo tangentially related, but that's such a beautiful camera! I love mine!

Cristian G.'s picture

Ah, this is easy. I was doing a photoshoot for a dentist's office while still in college, living in the dorm. At some point, some of those dorm bugs or crawlers started coming out of my laptop(back when IBM were making the ThinkPads) and they were strutting around the dentist's office. I managed to squish them and kick them under a desk before anyone noticed :))

Frank Davis's picture

Setting a client's office on fire was a major embarrassment! The power pack for the strobes shorted out and started to burn. Fortunately, I caught it before it erupted into a major fire. It was a medical office I was shooting for the architect, and it was after hours thankfully. I opened all the doors and windows to air out the smell (I'm sure it still smelled when they came in the next morning!) and found a vacuum to clean up all the soot on the carpet. Told the client there was an issue, I can't remember the exact excuse, and I would have to reschedule. I reshot it and everyone was happy. I'm sure they are still wondering about that strange smell!

Paul Trantow's picture

Be extra careful with rental equipment! Happily, it's been 20 years, but I once made a group shot with a rental 6x7, but the damn thing had been left in multi-exposure mode (meaning the film doesn't advance when you wind it). Yes, whoever did that was a villain, but it was up to me to check it!

Jacques Cornell's picture

Was supposed to get up at 4:30am to be onsite at 6:30am for a fundraising breakfast. But, my infant kept me up until 2am. Turned off two wake-up alarms without knowing it, then spontaneously awoke in a panic, dashed out the door (fortunately, my packed gear was ready to go) and started working 45 minutes late. EMBARRASSING!

First time in 20 years I've been late for a shoot.

Lesson learned: for morning work, always put multiple loud wake-up alarms FAR from the bed.