Us photographers are bizarre creatures. It is as if holding a camera exchanges the focus of your preservation instincts from yourself to the camera and lenses. The camera's tunnel vision sometimes appears to extend to its user and all that matters is what is in that frame. Perhaps we are brave and valiant artists capturing beauty in whichever obscure corner we find it. Then again, perhaps we are idiots seeking notoriety through the capturing of the unique and the rare; the jury's out. Whichever answer -- or anywhere in between -- this common mentality among 'togs yields entertaining anecdotes.
Leave your best photography anecdote in the comment section and if we get some good ones, I'll make an "The Best Photography Anecdotes of Fstoppers' Readers" article to follow up.
I'll kick us off with what I like to call, The Shoot Out:
Early in my photography days, when it was still a new hobby, I used to like exploring with my camera. I do not live anywhere interesting, but nevertheless I'd roam forests and woodlands like a middle-class nomad. One crisp winter morning I upped and dress in the dark and decided to head over to some woods I'd spotted in the middle of nowhere for a sunrise landscape. I arrived and began my exploration with nothing but the sounds of distant birds and the crackle of the frozen floor under foot. I could see a clearing in the distance and the sun was starting to filter through so I headed towards it. The winter always feels quieter than the summer. I was still a little sleep drunk and I glazed over as I rhythmically plodded out in to the open. Shots rang out. Not my camera; firearms. Very close firearms. Have you ever heard a sound so loud and unexpected that you felt it in your lungs? I staggered towards a tree for meager shelter as if I had been genuinely shot and heavy rumbling began, followed by screams, whistles and mass movement. Honestly, it felt like the Vikings had returned with some modern technology. Through a flare of sun I made out tweed-clad warriors without a cause atop horses, lead by a pack of dogs, rifle-wielding countrymen, and even some sort of flag bearer who was waving it frantically. I had just walked in to the path of a hunting party who were very much in full flow and those screams were first at the small army to cease fire and then at me. I was so mentally ill-equipped for an early morning skirmish I'm quite sure my apologies were unintelligible and I bumbled back off in to the woods fizzing with adrenaline.
Dani Diamond - Castaway
Ok, so three years ago I’m shooting a seascape on the coast of Malibu, California. It’s a gorgeous coast with crazy cool cliffs that come all the way up to the water. There’s around four feet between the cliff and the water; it’s really narrow. So, I’m walking down the coast with all my gear to find the right spot and I always shoot around sunset. So I’m sitting there shooting in this area of the beach that was a decent size. When I finish shooting just as the sun sets, I’m packing up and I start walking back along the coast and I realize the water has risen above my path back along the cliff — there’s no more beach left and there’s no way to get back! I turn around and walk the opposite way and there’s nothing until I reached the other side of the cliff which also had high water so I was completely trapped. I noticed a home-made wooden ladder that was falling apart but it lead to a ramp with a metal door. The door was locked. The door and fence was 25 feet in the air and had metal spikes on top so you can’t climb without ripping yourself but it was my only way.
So I take my camera bag and my tripod and I throw it over the door and then I climbed like a monkey over the fence. I make it down the other side and I’m in some dude’s back garden. This is not a house, it’s a gorgeous fancy mansion on a cliff in Malibu, who knows which celebrity owns it?! I sneak around to the front to get out and boom, there’s an electric fence seventeen feet tall and it only opens electronically for cars. I’m standing on this guy’s driveway — I’m not going to go knocking on his door — but the fence has barbed wire at the top too so I just start walking around the garden. I eventually find a tree with a branch that hangs over the fence and so I climb it, throw my gear down and then jump the seventeen feet.
Matt Georges - The Blair 'Tog Project
When shooting in the wild during the winter we sometimes end up in uncomfortable situations. I remember a particular RV trip in Interior British Columbia, Canada, a couple of years ago. It was -30°C and it was freezing inside the camper overnight so we had to put an alarm clock at 3AM just to heat up the car a bit before going back to sleep again. So, on that trip we were supposed to meet up with the Monashee Lodge people in a parking lot at 7AM at the very end of 50 kilometres of one-way road into a deep forest. We thought the best option would be to drive there just after dinner and sleep directly in the parking lot.
When we hit the road it started snowing a bit. One hour later it had snowed around 40cm, it was just insane and we could barely see the road. We were in the middle of nowhere in a deep forest, on a one way road, with no chance to turn around, in a big mama RV, trying to not get stuck. After three hours driving we got stuck though. There was way too much snow! So we started to shovel the road and try to get some speed to keep moving in the RV. We had to stop pretty much every 50 meters to dig out the tires again and again. After doing this for six hours non-stop we just gave up. It was still puking snow and the whole crew was so exhausted. We decided to split up and me plus two other guys would hit the road until the end just to be in time for our meeting. We got radios on to stay in touch with the crew inside the RV and we started to walk in the deep and fresh snow, at night, with a small headlight, without knowing at all how far we were from the end of the road. We walked for a few hours, really scared of crossing the path of any sort of wild animal and every little noise in this darkness was scary! Of course the radio was not really working so we couldn’t stay in touch with our RV base.
By the time we ended up at the meeting point the sun was already rising! The cat from the lodge towed our RV a couple kilometers to the final point. Snow conditions were all-time and we were ready to shoot in the fresh snow for a week! It’s not really a photo anecdote but more what happens before or after when we go on photo missions in the wild.
What's your best photography anecdote? Leave your story in the comments and remember to up-vote other ones you like.