Common Blunders Photographers Make

On the surface, it would appear to most that photography is a straightforward endeavor. Point the dedicated camera or smartphone at your desired subject, press or tap the shutter, and hey presto the magic happens. Funny thing is, simple as one can make it sound, still there is so much room for even professional photographers to botch things up.

Tony and Chelsea Northrup covered some of the more philosophical-level photography mistakes previously, and this time they show no shame in laying out some entertaining mishaps they have been unable to avoid along the way. Regardless the size of the blunder, if you have been enjoying photography at any level, there is a good chance you have interfaced with at least a few of these common mishaps along your own journey. A great point they lead off with is sometimes the best way to learn is by simply making mistakes along the way. Typically, failures stick with you as teaching points, for me personally while they sting, I do learn greatly from them. The best tip I can give is always show up plenty early to a shoot, double check your camera gear and settings before you even fire off an image, then check again just to be safe! And when you still inevitably make that human mistake, brush it off and grow from it.

Anyone care to entertain the community with some personal screw-ups? Would love to read about them in the comments. 

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Brian Pernicone's picture

Fun video. I once took my DJI Phantom 3 4K down to the local harbor to get some aerial shots and video. While I was flying over the channel, I spotted a seal and began following it. I created a wonderfully cinematic follow video, even circling above the seal as it frolicked (I remained far enough away not to stress it out). When the battery warning went off, I returned my drone to land, packed it up and headed to my car, excited to get my first look at the footage, only to realize I never pressed the record button.

I haven't had the opportunity to film one since.

That screw up still haunts me.

Just curious. How stressed out does a seal have to appear or what behavior does it have to exhibit for you to decide it's stressed out?

Brian Pernicone's picture

It continued doing what it was doing. A change in behavior is usually a sure sign of when a seal gets stressed. A stressed seal will often increase its barking, or whatever you want to call their vocalizations. It will stare at you (or in this case, the drone). It will try to get away. This one did none of those things, as it continued to play at the surface in the same general area without acknowledging the presence of people watching, boats passing or the drone.

To answer the first part of your question, if I had noticed any change at all in its behavior, that would have been enough for me to to decide it was stressed out and to leave it alone. There's no "It's only a little stressed out." If the behavior changes at all, it means my presence has been noticed and I'm out.


Good answer and this should all be obvious to any intelligent person.

Well, maybe Sam was interested in the specific details, as it relates to that particular animal.

Perhaps a design change on the controller could prevent that.

Brian Pernicone's picture

Nah, the controls in the app and on the controller are pretty straightforward and easy. I straight up forgot to press the button in my excitement.

Well, maybe a flashing indicator? If it happened to you then it's probably happening to other users too. Sounds like a poor design in that regard.

Well, there was a food festival I visited (Smorgasburg in Brooklyn) where one of the desserts offered was made from ice shaved from a large block on the table. I got a perfect angle with my camera and they went to work, with bits of ice flying past the camera. I was complimented by a film guy I was hanging out with on what must have been good footage, but, I quickly confessed that I forgot to hit the record button. I figured the chandelier story was better, but yeah, I forget to hit the record button, sometimes with audio, and I plan to write up a bunch of checklists to live by before my next shoot.

I showed up for an open invite photo shoot for fun and networking in a Victorian mansion. I was working with a lady dressed up like the Queen of England. Everyone was impressed with my lighting setup and my enthusiasm. I attempted a really bad Staying Alive impression, trying to get her to laugh. I accidentally broke a crystal on the 100 year old chandelier hanging overhead, and everyone gasped.

While shooting at some canyons recently, I was climbing around in a dangerous area on some cliffs. I had to keep saying aloud to myself "shoot or walk, not both!" so I wouldn't be moving and looking through a lens at the same time. There was no learning from a mistake here, just dying.

Leigh Smith's picture

Left an ND filter on my lens from a previous shoot. Couldn't understand why I had to crank the ISO and flash in the dim bar for an editorial portrait till i got home.

Similar thing happened to me, though in that case I had forgotten a CPL filter on the lens while snapping a few pictures at a friend's party...

Adam T's picture

I got caught on a short fence that turned my pants and boxers into assless chaps.
I had to finish the shoot wrapping myself in gaffer tape.

Derrick Ruf's picture

Hahaha good one, and yet another use for gaffer tape!

Matthijs Bettman's picture

About the tripod in the water thing..
I was in Iceland (at Diamond beach) and saw someone photographing the ice with a Phaseone, but he didn't saw the way coming in until the very last moment. Tried to run away, but he fall and got SOAKED. Like everything got soaked even his camera!

Derrick Ruf's picture

Oh man, hopefully the images prior to taking a bath were worth it.

Ed B.'s picture

You know, they've always reminded me of The Captain and Tenille.

Leigh Miller's picture

Dude...we are ooooolllldddd. Nobody under the age of 45 would know who they were.

Sad to say I think even 45 may be stretching it.

I'm an underwater photographer. At various times I have sealed the camera in the housing and not noticed that I have (a) left the lens cap on, (b) forgotten the accessory flash needed to trigger the strobes, (c) forgotten to attach the gear needed to zoom and focus the lens. No fixing those mistakes once at depth!

Consider making a checklist to go through before diving.

Yep. Most UW people I know do that. But its easy to get out of your routine when working in an unfamiliar place. Fortunately, after making each of those mistakes exactly once, I realized a foolproof way to avoid them was to simply take a test shot before getting on the boat.

Tom Marvel's picture

With size 13 feet, the tether cord is always a great source of fun & amusement
Also the beauty dish to the forehead

I was shooting ISO 100 film, finished it and loaded ISO 400 film without changing the ISO. Oops!