Can Your Equipment Cause You Physical Pain? You Bet Your Boys It Can

I apparently don’t always have the best relationship with my equipment. Recently while setting up for an early morning outdoor shoot, I was reminded that you get what you pay for with a swift blow to my man-parts. 'Eff you light stand!

I’ll sadly admit that this isn’t the first time this has happened to me, adding one strike against my typical “I’m a fast learner” spiel. I often find myself working in harsh conditions. Insane temperatures, dirt, moisture, creepy-crawly critters; it’s usually all a factor involved in my shoots. Since my light stands are often placed in water, mud, sand, cow shit, you name it, I’ve never found much reason to invest in expensive light stands. The downside to this is that I don’t always get to enjoy the benefits of quality materials, air or even spring cushioning, or any of the other benefits associated with higher quality light stands. As a result, fingers occasionally get pinched and things often seize up, usually at the most inopportune times.

While preparing for a recent shoot scheduled for 6am, I quickly gathered the gear I had set aside the day before, tossed it into the back of my Jeep, and headed out on location. Upon arriving, my clients were already there. I pulled in next to them, said my hellos, and began setting up what I’d need for the first set by attempting to expand the legs on a particularly temperamental light stand of mine. Not wanting anyone to see my struggles with this stupid light stand, I moved to the other side of my Jeep and continued my fight with the stand. I gave it “the look” and with one more determined (and forceful) effort, the legs decided to expand like they had been lubricated with unicorn snot or something. Suddenly I was reminded how much force I had applied as the legs expanded, one of which, directly between my legs and in to my much appreciated and typically far more protected man-parts. It hurt. Bad. I let out a sharp F bomb and quickly glanced over at my clients. They didn’t notice a thing. I was still good in terms of saving face, but holy crap was I in pain. In fear of speaking several octaves higher than before, I quietly and awkwardly limped around to the front of my Jeep with what I can only imagine was the most fake smile ever and began directing my subject to capture the first set of images.

I got through the set just fine I guess, but I’ll be inspecting my light stands soon and replacing a few of them. As for the cruel, nut punching ninja of a light stand mentioned above, well, it was cleaned and is ready for the next fight. Do you have any stories of your equipment striking back? Share in the comments below. 

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John Ruth's picture

Many years ago I was shooting a portrait of a mural artist in Kanasa City, with my 4x5, which requires a very large , heavy tripod. As I was rapping up Rosey Grier came walking up to the artist and me. He started to talk and I guess I was a little star struck and did not pay attention to what I was doing. I lifted the tripod off the ground by the center post not thinking, The legs folded rapidly and with great leverage inwards and cut into my thumb. I let out a loud F bomb and several MFs , Rosey looks over at me and the look on his face told me I was obviously in bad shape. I hadn't looked at my hand yet. I was still looking at Rosey and my subject. I looked down and I was covered in blood. I had almost cut off my thumb with the legs and the triple tree. He offered to take me to the hospital but I was to embarrassed by my stupidity. I wrapped my handit in a towel and drove away, light headed from the pain. Boy did I feel like klutz!

Paul Davy's picture

"Can Your Equipment Cause You Physical Pain?". It can cause serious physical injury. During an urban landscape shoot on my push bike, I was knocked off my bike by a vehicle exiting a side road. I'd left my D7100 on its strap round my neck rather than stow it, as I was between buildings i wanted to shoot. As I landed on the road, the camera ended up under me, between the road surface and my ribcage. The Nikon won. Me 4 broken ribs. Not a mark on the camera.

Dusty Wooddell's picture


Paulo Macedo's picture

Not once, but several times. A big reflector opened fast and hit me in the jimmy! I was like red, blue and yellow at the same time and shouted an F bomb, in portuguese. The model was like "what the hell is he doing back there?", we laughed.
Other time, with one of these cheap china tripod stands, my finger got between one of those iron things in the middle and cutted a quarter inch of beef out of it lol
The last time, i've jumped from a small wall and fogot 6D with grip and 135 f2 hitted me right in the teeth lol more blood!

Scott Cushman's picture

A few years ago, I had a particularly intense weekend of photographing a high school basketball tournament, running between multiple gyms with a heavily loaded camera bag. The tournament started on a Wednesday. By Sunday afternoon, I was frantically looking for an open chiropractor. Now when I have a big event like that, I make sure to stretch every morning and evening, and I schedule a chiropractic appointment for the Monday after well in advance. I also try to carry less equipment, but don't always succeed in that goal.