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Bless Me Father Bob…..

Jan 4

In Stories at 7:53am

You know, it’s a new year, and it’s time to download the card, freshen up the pixels, clean the lens elements and confess all those photographic sins, which for me, really, are too numerous to count or catalog. As 2009 faded in the rear view mirror, I figured it was time to see Father Bob.

Here’s what I propose. Write in about your most egregious photographic sin of the last year, decade, whatever. We’ll cruise the comments and pick out the 5 best whoppers and put them up on the blog with, uh, some commentary within a couple of weeks. The 5 most colorful or unusual screw ups, missed exposures, bad calls, blown jobs, or lollapalooza mistakes….be they as simple as leaving the lens cap on, or as serious as shooting Canon:-)…we’ll send an autographed copy of Hot Shoe Diaries. Determining the 5 “winners” is solely at the discretion of the management.

Now, these are sins committed with a camera in your hands, or at least nearby. If you had one of those production jobs in Vegas, and the model didn’t show up, and the permits weren’t valid, and the rental car battery went dead, and the client was a screamer, and you were so distracted you shot the whole day for this big movie poster on jpeg basic….and that night you decided to ease your suffering by shooting and starring in your own personal version of Hangover, well, the details of those evening endeavors, as they say, should remain in Vegas.

(Shot entirely on Nikon’s D3s by Drew Gurian and Will Foster).

More tk…

246 Responses to “Bless Me Father Bob…..”

Jamie Carl says:

on January 5, 2010 at 12:05 am

I have a doozey that happened in Jan 09.

After 7 hours of shooting for my first ever automotive magazine feature I was finishing up with some basic fluffer shots in an undercover car park. I got to a point where I needed the “support car” (a RAV4) moved out of the way as it was going to be in a few shots, so a friend jumped in and moved the car.

Unfortunately he moved it right over one of my camera bags that I had stupidly left on the ground not far from the car. It totally busted one lens into bits and slightly squished my D300 which still surprisingly worked fine afterwards. Worst part was I lost about 200 frame sequences that I literally risked life and limb for earlier in the day when the CF card got fried in the D300. Also bent my car keys and flattened a few other things in the bag. yay. :(

Pictures always speak louder than words, so here’s one: http://www.flickr.com/photos/funkynerd/3208591273

On the plus side, the feature made the issue’s double truck and my friend covered the cost of everything that was damaged.

It still hurts to think about it though. I think only a signed copy of The Hot Shoe Diaries will ease the pain. ;)


M Todd Thiele says:

on January 5, 2010 at 12:33 am

Classic Joe. Hope to see you again.

M Todd

Shane Ambry says:

on January 5, 2010 at 12:40 am

I have two sins to confess, only one of which is truly from 2009:

Years ago as the notable “person with SLR”, I was asked to shoot my grandparents’ 60th Anniversary celebrations. THe brief was detailed – get images of all the key people across a number of generations.

I shot all night, raised a load of expectations, then discovered next day that I had failed to load any film…

You’d think I would have gotten smarter, but perhaps not – maybe there should be a version of the Darwin Awards just for ‘togs?:

In preparation for a city-scape night shoot in Melbourne, I packed my super-wide 10-20mm lens. Upon arrival with my shooting buddy, I went to remove the rear cap from teh lens so I could fit it to my D80. The rear cap, which was a non- standard one that has an ‘o’ ring to keep things clean, refused to come off. I tried harder and harder to remove it, cursing more as time passed. I assumed that the ‘o’ ring had stuck to the lens, and cursed the god of crummy Ebay accessories. Eventually I gave up and shot at 18mm.

Upon return home, I realised I had been attempting to turn the cap the wrong way… 8-)

Christian Lee says:

on January 5, 2010 at 12:46 am

Had the bad judgement to not reschedule 2 restaurant shoots (food and environment) while suffering from the (may have been H1N1) flu. I was thinking customer satisfaction instead of logic and health/safety. On top of being a sweaty and sick looking mess, I found out after the fact that one of the restaurants served that same food to staff….yuck.

I had no idea that they’d serve it after I had been poking and prodding it with my bare hands and it had been sitting out for the better part of an hour.

I felt terrible….I should not be rewarded for this sin – I’ll keep my unautographed copy of HSD and be smarter in 2010.

Tiffany Meyer says:

on January 5, 2010 at 1:00 am

I had recently started a portrait business with some success on a small scale. With no formal training, an F100 and a (basically) unused SB600, I was really making it up as I went along. I was intimidated by flash units and stuck to mostly natural light.
I got a call from a very honorable organization about hiring me to cover their 3 day conference being held in our city. Without hesitation, I offered a bid and they gave me the job.
At this point, I was shooting primarily slides. I would just give clients their slides and everyone seemed happy. My conference clients liked the idea of having a bunch of slides to keep, so this job would be no different…or so I thought.
Knowing really nothing about my flash unit, I got a quickie “how to” lesson at my favorite camera store and felt that I was good to go. I would be shooting inside at the convention center and (at the very least) I knew that I would need my flash.
My first day at the job, I felt I had arrived. I was glowing. I was gliding. I was “on fire”. I was charming and knowledgeable…this was it!!!
I ran into a couple of head scratchers with my camera, but I was able to call my favorite camera store and get it figured out.
During the course of my job, I started to have more trouble. More calls to the camera store and some stomach acid, but I still felt pretty good.
The job was over. I got paid (the most I had ever made!) and I waited for my slides.
I was very nervous about the results (especially the award presentation ceremony…my camera acted really weird then!), but I was almost always pleasantly surprised at my shooting results (particularly if I was a little doubting).
I picked up my slides and found a quiet place to review them.
They were black.
They were black.
They were black.
They were black.
Oh shit…they were ALL black.
No, wait! Here are some that look good! Oh yes, the natural light in the foyer of the random people, but no images of ANYONE from the organization.
Oh wait…that one kind of works
Oh and another…maybe if the lab bumps it up a bit and
Hundreds of black slides.

And now I had to face the music.
I will never forget the woman from the organization saying over and over as I tried to get her to focus on “the good ones”.
“But what happened? We saw your pictures on your website. What happened?”
The organization that hired me is a top nonprofit charity. They do amazing work for people that might not have a chance otherwise. It was a very painful lesson for me.
But, as they say…”It is how we react to life experiences that define us”,
I went digital and started learning about light.
I hope to never have a learning experience like that again.

Scott says:

on January 5, 2010 at 1:17 am

We managed to pick up my wife’s old film SLR from her parents a couple of weeks back. I took it along to a shoot… and kept looking at the back of it after I’d taken the shot.

Still haven’t finished the roll, so no idea how the shots will look!

Roar Lochar Ramberg says:

on January 5, 2010 at 1:28 am

Taking pictures inside the National History Museum in London with a wide angle, low ISO without understanding why my pictures got blurry. And I also used a Canon 400D.

Philip Yu says:

on January 5, 2010 at 1:40 am

My family went to visit a Zoo and while we were having a snack the wife decides to go to the ladies room. She comes back and says, the decor in the ladies room is so cute…animal designs and it is really unique, can I borrow the camera? She wants to take a few shots to show me. So i lend her my nikon coolpix p4 point and shoot digital camera. My 6 year old daughter goes with her to take a look too.

She comes back a few minutes later with a shocked and sorry look on her face. It turns out she didn’t put the wrist strap on and accidentally let go of the camera. It plopped right into the toilet bowl! I wasn’t too eager to get the camera from her hands, and wipe it up!

I later hear my daughter admonishing my wife and she says to her… “You should have let me hold the camera!”

Of course, the camera is now dead! I decided not to have it repaired anymore. But the photos were still readable from the SD card. You can be sure that I rinsed the card well before inserting it into the card reader!

Thom says:

on January 5, 2010 at 2:22 am

Was taking posed foursome portraits at a charity golf event with another photog assisting. Had everything set, manual focus, totally brain-dead setup and ready to go. Then, at the last minute the assistant decided to put in a fresh camera battery after the meet-and-greet, and before the big rush of foursomes as they headed out to the tees. Inexplicably, they didn’t notice that the focus went to infinity when they turned the camera back on. They took every single foursome without checking focus…not even once. The pin 100 yards distant was tack sharp. Unfortunately, there were all these blurry people standing in the way. And so, instead of being done by noon, we had to go around the course tracking down nearly 50 groups for candids and on-course group shots on the single hottest day in Seattle last year: 106F.

Duane says:

on January 5, 2010 at 2:31 am

My sin is simple;

My best shot of a particular shoot was a complete accident, (the composition and exposure) but I took full credit for the ‘photographic genius’ that the client gratefully declared that I have when they claimed that photo as their absolute favorite.

No-one needs to know, right??

Vellzak says:

on January 5, 2010 at 3:27 am

Oh god I’ve sined..

I sold Nikon and bought Sony :(

I beg for forgiveness!!!

Everyday without CLS is a punishment!

I will burn in Hell with Terry Richardson (Canon)… Oh he went Nikon so he will be drinking coffee with God :(

No one shoots Sony.. I will spent my eternity alone..

Abhijit Bhatlekar says:

on January 5, 2010 at 4:21 am

Here is one really bad sin I did last year. This happened each time I had camera I my hand.

Each time my daughter Jill, wanted to hold my camera and try shooting, I drove her away fearing that she will drop it. She is just 5 and is really curious about everything which is used by BIG people…laptops, cameras, cellphones. She sadly goes away and tries to get involved in somthing else.
I can imagin how empowered and confident she will feel when she looks at a bunch of pics she has shot….just the same what I felt many years ago..!!

My resolution is to be a better father than a better photographer. So help me God.

Hang says:

on January 5, 2010 at 5:01 am

I was hired to photograph a band that had 2 blind singers. For 18 months they had asked their friends/family members to photograph their promo material without success, not getting even 1 good shot to use. So they hired a professional. Me.

Unfortunately, the gig was in a dark, dark pub with little stage lighting. My D70 only has a max iso of 1600 which is rather grainy. So sin# 1 – i had to use flash. Big sin for live music photography. BIG SIN.

Sin# 2 – because i hadn’t expected to use flash during the show, i then ran out of batteries for the CLS set up portraits afterward with no back up batteries in the bag. Working on my own without as assistant, i had to stop the shoot, drive around at midnight looking for a convenience store or petrol station to buy batteries. It cost me $16 to buy 6 AA’s.

All ended well though – good photos, happy band, relieved photographer :)

Jay Mann says:

on January 5, 2010 at 5:18 am

I bought a Canon Pocket camera with an underwater housing………………..but i beg forgiveness, I was tempted by the siren’s call of UNDERWATER PHOTOGRAGHY and did want ot risk flooding the Nikons. :)

Peter says:

on January 5, 2010 at 5:30 am

My biggest photo-sin in 2009 was definitely not publishing my DVD on photo composition, featuring (amongst other) an interview with the Maestro, Joe McNally!

As you know Joe, you very kindly accepted to let me interview you on camera in Copenhagen November 2008, and to feature on my planned 2009 DVD release. We shot 45 minutes of really good stuff, going through some of your photos and your thoughts on compositions and lighting.

And then, as the economic climate worsened during the beginning of 2009, and I was offered a well-paid 9-5 (well, rather a well-paid 24/7) I left it all half completed and unpublished…

In the photographic world that must be parallel to receiving the Ten Commandments on Mount Sinai and just ignore them for a fast fix of mammon……

I have said my Hail Marys over and over, but there’s no absolution for the sinner.

Happy New Year!
All the best, Peter

Mason Resnick says:

on January 5, 2010 at 5:44 am

So good to see Father Bob, and in such a forgiving mood! I was one of his disciples back in the day at Pop Photo, and helped him spread the Holy Gospel of Good Travel Photography.

Brilliant stuff!

Maciek says:

on January 5, 2010 at 6:03 am

Three location shoots during the day. 5 studio strobes powered by 80kg gasoline unit, 15 people on the set, kids, mothers, fathers, managers, a dog and some tourists in the background.
Calendar print run was 10000. A bit expensive party.

1. A kid by the lake… fishing (his dream, not mine -although he was 3 so I guess someone could force him into that dream without my knowledge). Sure enough Joe, I heard expression “zero out your camera”, however I was a Canon shooter and no one ever had my camera in their hands except me, and I had always shoot Raw in Manual mode, so everything was modified on a fly… except Image Quality…
But on that shoot I started to use my agencies Nikon… not knowing that people sometimes shoot JPG. Which could be a big problem when you need to enlarge images by 100% in post.
I had discovered that 20 minutes after I said “ok that’s a wrap everybody, thank you…”

2. Second shoot on that glorious day (at least I moved to Raw) and things moved smoothly… too smoothly… I discovered the day after, that I have no single sharp image… Try to imagine adrenaline smell through my skin… I’ve saved my ass by composting face from casting shots (4 different images). Result was pleasing. Lesson learnt.

3. Sunset shot in the field… I had only two strobes on the set (left 3 other in a hotel…). Got lucky there, beautiful light, gorgeous scene, a bit older kid (she wanted to be a dancer). I was in the zone. Told everybody on the set to move behind the line and shoot the hell out of it. Somewhere between the noise of power generator I heard my assistant (and my boss in the same time – yes I am lucky my boss is my assistant:-) I heard him screaming “lamps, lamps… look out for the lamps” – I must tell, I was moving fast on the set: different angles, on the ground, here and there – so I kinda ignored him thinking – yeah, like I am retarded enough to bump into a strobe… turned out he meant “don’t burn the lamps”… and it turned out after I heard two simultaneous explosions with lots of smoke.
I was very happy, got great shots on that location…

I don’t remember any more sins from last year(or I don’t want to, more likely -it’ enough for me). Not my opinion – but they loved the calendar… We will shoot next year very soon…

Patrick says:

on January 5, 2010 at 6:52 am

Haha, I laughed so hard! So now what can go wrong in this year anyway? :-)

Joe, this was truly a funny video. If that photographer-career doesn’t work out you still can go straight into comedy-business. ;-)

God bless you all.

Suren says:

on January 5, 2010 at 9:40 am

During a street shoot, the model showed me how to change the aperture on the Canon 40D. :) Looks like I have committed two sins here!

Joost says:

on January 5, 2010 at 10:08 am

Forgive me father Bob, disciple Joe, for I have sinned many times.

My last photographic confession was… probably in a previous life when people had to stand still for 10 minutes to be sharp.

To start of with a wedding I have recently done, the lighting was difficult and I was forced to shoot at high iso’s since I couldn’t get my SB900 to work like I wanted and…even worse: I ran out of AA batteries at the end of the evening.

Scared of the results, I decided to, again forgive me, change the album pages to the ones with a linnenstructure to hide the grain. Also sorta ruining the good pictures I had taken during the day.

But really Father bob, disciple Joe, I could name a few more, [ empty batteries, not checking the lcd enough to notice how the flash which was supposed to illuminate the background also left a horrible brightspot and shadow on the models face, having a camera with just 1 memory card slot during a wedding (which ofcourse resulted in a corrupt memory card), not getting the kiss in focus due to a faulty rental lens] But I’ll wont.

My cardinal sin:

When I go to the zoo and see about half the people walking around with a DSLR and some decent ones too at that, I worry father Bob. I worry about the future of my business, which I just started running 2 years ago.

The business I dropped my bachelor-education for, my only way out of a boring deskjob and the only thing I’m sort of good at.

I worry that now most people either have a decent DSLR or know someone who does, people won’t hire me anymore. That magazines will just hire the next new kid on the block who does it as a hobby and asks just a fraction of a normal, decent fee or that Uncle Bob (not you father- the term for wedding guests who take pictures) will get the job I’m so dependent on.

I worry about my future thanks to exact same development which gave me one in the first place. Chase Jarvis may embrace this new future wholeheartidly, and I respect him very much, but he has the clientele to be able to. I don’t.
So, except for saying 10 Hail Macro’s, what else can I do?

Frances McMullen says:

on January 5, 2010 at 10:44 am

I have a rather large sin to confess although a decade old it still haunts me. Before I began shooting as my own studio I worked in a processing lab – well that’s not the confession although it is bad enough. A regular client had just come back from a 3 month trip to Europe and brought back about 1,000 rolls of film – really at least that many. So what is a poor film processing girl to do?! Ah Ha – I know! Set up a temporary darkroom to process multiple rolls of film at once in a large basket – oh did I say set herself up for a large failure and a decade of self humiliation – right!! So with out getting into all of the specifics – I think you get the picture – unfortunately my client didn’t get any of his pictures – yeah that’s right – I dipped and dunked into the fixer tank first! Now why didn’t he shoot digital?!

Patte Brownell says:

on January 5, 2010 at 11:04 am

In October, I went to the light show at the Pyramids of Giza without my tripod and shot at least 250 blurred pictures. That was indeed a sin. The only forgiveness is to go back and try again.

jed best says:

on January 5, 2010 at 11:26 am

Dear Father,

My most egregious sin was that I ran over my D3 and 70-300 lens with my Boxster S. It was late in the evening and I was tired. I had forgotten where I had placed my camera bag and ran over it twice.

Luckily, it was a Nikon. built like a tank so there must have been divine intervention and nothing broke.

Maciek says:

on January 5, 2010 at 12:02 pm

Got one more.

There is a million reasons of why you shouldn’t show your client, all your images during or right after you’ve downloaded them to your desktop – without getting rid of flash misfires, out of focus…. bla bla bla. And I know that.

Everyone else who isn’t me, should know that as well, here is why.

I was shooting a portrait of a teenager (a commercial shoot), her whole family was present, I mean mom, dad, brother and sister… Her dad and her brother where really cool guys, with huge interests in photography – so they were behind my back all excited… anyway the subject was right in front of me, I had two strobes… second strobe was placed way behind her back and I had some problems with firing it.
So I had my assistant on the other side trying to fix connection between the strobe and the receiver. He was far away so we have used radios for communication… I had to constantly press the shutter (test button was broken).
So with the radio in one hand and camera in the other… I’ve pressed the shutter about 100 times before we got it right…

Shoot went fine.


Her dad and her brother asked me if they could look through the pictures (I had my laptop there) but as stated before… Don’t show’em before you see them yourself…

And here is why.

My whole crew went back to our studio – I started to download images from my cards and went for a smoke outside.
When I got back I found that everyone is looking at me in a very strange manner, some were nervously smiling, some were disgust.

They looked through all images and found that 100 exposures I did to test the strobe… without looking…
It was a 100 images of intimate parts of my subject… front and back… a whole god damn human anatomy album… she was standing there in front of me all the time- she also turned around to watch the strobe herself…

Although my crew showed my finally some understanding over my deep embarrassment. I have serious doubts it would be the same with her family on the set….

Sort them first lads!

Annemarie Mountz says:

on January 5, 2010 at 12:38 pm

My biggest sin of 2009 was on a trip with the local high school’s marching band — I’m their official photographer, as well as a chaperone. It had been a busy day at work, and I rushed out behind schedule, grabbing my camera bag and heading to the school just in time to board the bus for the trip from State College to Cumberland Valley, Pennsylvania. As I arrived at the school I got out my camera to get a few shots of the kids loading their instruments onto the bus … and that’s when I realized I left my camera battery back in its charger. Of course, I also did not have a backup battery with me. (I have one now!) There was no time to go get the battery, so I boarded the bus with my completely useless gear, and a plan. We were stopping at the Colonial Park Mall for dinner, so I figured I’d stop in the camera store in the mall to get a new battery. Turns out, the camera store at that mall went out of business. In desperation, I ended up going into a department store and buying the best point-and-shoot they sold. (It wasn’t a very good one, but it was my only option.) It came with a partially charged battery, so I shot with it until it died, then talked a concession stand worker into plugging the battery charger into an outlet in the stand, to give me enough of a charge to shoot the halftime show. In the end, I got decent photos, but it was perhaps the most stressful gig I shot this year.

Now that I’ve confessed my biggest sin, I’d like to add onto the post by Andy Colwell. I was present for his biggest sin as he described it. I had secured him a seat on my marching band bus for the trip, so he traveled with us to the football championship game. What he left out of his description of the events was how the entire busload of high school band members was chanting his name as he returned to the waiting bus after retrieving the D3 from his car. It’s not often (fortunately) that we have an audience present to witness our sins, but these kids witnessed both Andy’s transgression, and mine. (They didn’t chant for me, though.) Andy’s cheering section made his a truly memorable experience.

Deji says:

on January 5, 2010 at 12:44 pm

That was hilarious! Thanks for the laughs & I think Father Bob might want to consider taking his confessional on the road … there are so many of us with sins out here :-)

Charlie says:

on January 5, 2010 at 3:43 pm

Great stuff Joe, any more of these in the works?

Greg says:

on January 5, 2010 at 3:44 pm

Was in a glamour workshop earlier this year. We decided that to light the scene properly we needed to half the power output on one of the dynalites. So we plugged in another light.

We weren’t going to use that light for anything, so we put it in this storage bin, with the top on so the flash wouldn’t affect our scene.

After about 10 minutes we started smelling “burning.” We figured it was dust on this old Norman Trilite we had just heated up. So we let it be for another 5 minutes…

Then we see smoke billowing out from the storage bin and realize we left the modeling lamp on. We powered down when we were hooking everything up, so we never noticed.

Burned a hole through the bottom and charred the wood floor.

Now that was a lesson I’ll never forget. Absolutely priceless.

Glenn Carpenter says:

on January 5, 2010 at 3:52 pm

Back in 2005 Barack Obama had just been elected to the Illinois Senate. He agreed to speak at our college for Black History Month. My sin was not charging the D1 batteries the night before. Each of the four batteries had enough power to get 2-4 shots before the camera shut down. I shot the VIP photos, the press conference, and the speech all the while juggling batteries.

Oh, and I used a light meter last week, a Minolta Flash Meter IV.

JR says:

on January 5, 2010 at 5:11 pm

Sins? Me? You’re kidding. right? Your teachings have made me perfect, I’ll have you know.

And while I’m at it, what about the biggest of your sins by far. Father Bob would surely shudder and shake his head if he knew you don’t blog EVERY DAY, as is expected of you “down under”.

Best of the best to you and your loved ones for 20ten.

BTW. Listen up there! Twelve months to go before the end of this decade!

Jim Greipp says:

on January 5, 2010 at 6:26 pm

One of my client manufactures ball bearings. When he calls on the phone, he lets me know how happy he is with the previous job my saying “Hello number one photographer” or “Hello photographer #29″. I did a series of studio shots of roller bearings for a trade show he was attending – they were reproduced big: 4′x6′. I knew I was in trouble when the phone rang and I heard “Is this photographer #268?” Apparently a small piece of the green putty I used to hold the product in place was visible once it was enlarged. He continued ” I am sitting here in Chicago sitting underneath a two inch booger.” “Over the next three days, I’m going to call you every time somebody makes a wise a$$ remark and unless you want to drop to photographer #600, you answer the phone ‘Hello, this is the best snot photographer in town’”. I have recently worked my way back to photographer #10.

ambienteye says:

on January 5, 2010 at 7:39 pm

sin #1:
Realizing a Mr Joe McNally was going to be in town… a day before the talk with no way to get into the long since sold out seminar.

sin #2:
Letting computer problems be an excuse for not shooting… for three months.

sin #3:
Agreeing to take portraits of my niece for my sister. Now my mother thinks I will magically make a ton of money shooting snotty shrieky shitfactories. I hate babies.

James Ball says:

on January 5, 2010 at 7:56 pm

About three years ago (just before my first child), my wife and I used to travel around New Zealand in our large 4×4 and find cool places to sleep over, NZ is great for that.

We found a deserted stretch of beach near Kaikoura, dropped into 4×4 mode and just drove along the waters edge to where we liked the view best. We parked, cooked up some sausages, drank a bottle (or two) of wine, went for a long walk before finally going to slept in the vehicle, using it like a ready made metal tent.

I woke the next morning just before sunrise with a bladder about to go critical mass. After relieving myself I was about to get back into the car when something caught my eye in the water. After a moment I saw something else… it was a pod of dusky dolphins swimming past, about 30m off the shore (it was a steep beach).

I grabbed my camera and took what I though were some of my best shots. We were on the east coast looking towards sunrise. The sun was still to poke above the horizon and the high cloud was a glowing mass of pink and gold, all perfectly reflected in the calm ocean. And the icing on the cake was the 15 or so rare dolphins swimming past, occasionally half leaping out of the water. It was one of ‘those’ moments, I was the only person on the planet seeing this! Click, click, click, click…….

Shoot forward about one week. Back at home again and my PC goes belly up after I was unlucky enough to get a virus from an email attachment. It was late in the evening and after trying to save the PC for most of the day I finally gave up and decided to reformat the drive and start again.

One format and a reinstall of Windows later I finally go to reinstall all my applications which were safely saved on my D: drive.

“Hmm?” I think “That’s odd. Why has the D: drive got Windows installed on it as well as the C: drive…” Then it dawns on me. In my bleary eyed state I’d reformatted my D: drive, not my main C: drive. In the process I’d wiped out two years of photos, lots of purchased downloaded software, and my home movies, almost all of which were luckily backed up. All that is apart from my sunrise with the dusky dolphins :(

Needless to say, I now back up everything to an external drive the moment I download from the CF card. Even so, it’ll never bring back my once in a lifetime special photo shoot on the beach.

jason inman says:

on January 5, 2010 at 8:08 pm

as a brand new pro I got my first big job shooting some cars with a model for a pinup photo for a car dealership. I scouted the internet and hired a model based on her website and some recommendations on model mayhem. On the big day I was there early, with an assistant, a makeup artist, and most of the dealership staff on hand to watch. Then she showed up… it had been five heavy smoking and drinking years since the photos on her site, and she had added about a dozen garish tattoos… and to top it all off, she was 5 months pregnant! I almost died right there… (there had not been time to meet her first). I went ahead and took the best shots I could (and TOTALLY nailed the lighting) as though there was nothing wrong. I went home and photoshopped like crazy, and, terrified, took the results into the dealership. Thank god the manager thought it was funny… he was impressed with what I had gotten with the model I had, and was impressed with the way I handled the whole thing. He had me redo the shoot, with much better results. Thank god he had a sense of humor!

Jennifer says:

on January 5, 2010 at 9:07 pm

I committed the ultimate photography sin.

I, *gasp* took a day job!

I know, it’s awful.

Don’t look at me!! I’m hideous!!

Randy says:

on January 5, 2010 at 9:11 pm

My biggest blunder of 2009 in happened in October. I was in the Arctic Circle shooting Polar bears and came across a Red Fox in snow hunting for food. I was all set up on the fox anticipating the moment it was going to pounce on it’s prey and decided I could get in a better location; as soon as I started to move the fox pounced and I blew the shot. I did however manage to caputre a nice blurry fox tail in the lower left hand corner of the frame.

David says:

on January 5, 2010 at 9:35 pm

Hey Joe!! Im a 17yr old photographer from Ireland and a big admirer of your work!! Thanks for all the inspiration!
Here’s my letter to Father Bob. :)

I am sorry.
I have made many sins this year. But i try to learn from them. Here are two which wont leave my memory for a long long time.

Sin 1. A friend calls me one evening saying that the surf is great and him and his brother who happens to be one of Ireland’s best surfers are heading out to this super spot. The waves are meant to be big and perfect. The light is amazing with about 2 hours left before sunset. I am jumping with excitement as i get into the car with my bag full of camera gear. We zoom down the road with my bag on my lap to pick up his brother. I jump out of the car to help his bro put his board on the roof, leaving the bag just beside the wheel arch (im sure you can see where this is going). Boards on the roof jump back in the car. “Ok lets go go go!!” Kuur!! A wheel spin?? Why are we not moving. Then it clicks with me. Awwww @£$%^Q!!! We get out and yank the bag from under the wheel. Tears are slowly appearing as i open the bag. And i see it. My Canon 70-200mm L’s lens cap is cracked.. Everything else is ok. I check the glass on the lens at least 100 times before we reach the reef. Everything is ok. I am too lucky! I end up shooting perfect waves with my two friends in perfect light for the rest of the evening. Thank GOD! (Shout out to Lowepro bags! :) )

Lesson 1: Wheel arch-Bad. Seat of car-Good

Sin 2. Im alone in a forest in Scotland looking for deer. Iv been out for just under two hours and its starting to get silent and scary. Finally i spot a deer less than 20ft away. He spots me before i can move for my camera. He bolts. I grab my camera and without even thinking about exposure i machine gun it shooting 12frames. I Stop to see 1/100 F/8.0 ISO 100. Too slow so i move to 1/600 F/4 ISO 200 as it is good light. Meanwhile in the corner of my eye the deer is getting closer to a river maybe 5feet wide. I can tell he is going to jump it. I raise my camera. He Jumps. I press the button.
“What” “My camera is meant to take pictures when i press that button. I look at my camera ” BUSY”.
My camera shoots 12RAW then has to sleep for a few seconds. :(
Heres the shot i did get at 1/100th http://www.flickr.com/photos/davidolsthoorn/4249845050/

Lesson 2: Know your Camera! Be patient!

There my two sins and my two lessons learned.. :)

Cynthia Dugan-Terrell says:

on January 6, 2010 at 12:28 am

My friend, and fellow student, Elizabeth and I accepted a job to shoot “creative” Santa photos early this past December. The group that contracted with us, wanted us to print the photographs on location. Elizabeth and I wanted to practice tethered shooting since, that was the newest skill in our quiver (Advanced Digital Capture – Cypress College) so it seemed to be a perfect combination. I bought two small ink jet printers and we picked up Pocket Wizards so we would not have to have cords from the lights to the camera as well as the cord from the camera to the computer. We planned everything down to the tiniest detail and spent several days practicing. On the day of the shoot, Elizabeth was at my house early, we crammed everything into the trunk and back seat of my car then we were off. We arrived in plenty of time, schlepped all the gear into the building and got everything set up – everything, except my laptop.

I had forgotten to put the laptop in my car. I could not believe it – all that practicing and I had forgotten the #$@% computer. I called my husband and he promised to rush it down, but we realized it would be impossible for him to get it there before we needed start, there was already a line of kids waiting to see Santa and anxious moms hoping to catch the perfect picture. The show had to go on – without the computer.

Luckily the printers I purchased could read the CF cards from our cameras, so we shot to card and swopped them out after each family had their photo taken with Santa. I manned the printers while Elizabeth captured the images. Helping the moms view the images on the printer’s tiny LCD screen was a challenge, but we continued to smile sweetly and pretend we had everything under control.

It was a harrowing experience and taught me that a checklist could be my best friend.

JM says:

on January 6, 2010 at 12:53 am

I’ll join the large crowd saying “forgot camera”. I went to a shoot this evening with lights, packs, charged camera batteries, extra cards, lenses, portable printer, etc. Left the two bodies on my desk.

Joy that it was a multi-hour event and 30 minutes round trip didn’t kill me.


Simon Fleming says:

on January 6, 2010 at 7:29 am

Great video Joe (& Bob).

Not sure if this is a sin…

A year or so ago our Coolpix 900 died after many faithful years of service in our retail photo store as the general purpose/passport & ID camera. Rather than replace it with something similar I’ve been using my D3 along with a couple of SB800s / Nikon CLS & Justin clamps (inspired by yourself) to shoot all our passport & ID images since. I’m sure ‘passport camera’ did not feature highly on Nikon’s list of technologies to be engineered into the D3, but hey, the images look fantastic, and I get to use my beloved D3 more often – shooting is shooting.

Happy New Year Joe.

Ron H says:

on January 6, 2010 at 9:15 am

This summer was in Joshua Tree National Park and had just finished shooting sunrise shots. My buddy and I quickly packed up our gear to head out on a 4 mile hike to take some more shots. As I was walking, I started to review some of my earlier shots on the LCD and to my dismay, the photos were all distorted. It appeared that there was some kind of “flare” in each of the shots. I sat down on a rock and started taking some test pics and noticed that I was seeing the same flare in the viewfinder. Every pic I took had the same flare distortion. I cycled the camera on and off, reset all of the settings to default, changed lenses and pretty much tried everything short of taking the camera apart to no avail. Since I had just been taking sunrise shots, I was certain that I had fried the sensor on my brand new D700. After 15 minutes of swearing and sweating, I took off the polarized sunglasses I had put on for the hike and lo and behold, the problem was fixed! I completely forgot that I had them on. Glad I figured it out before I took the next step and started banging on the camera with a rock.

Bob Harrington says:

on January 6, 2010 at 10:04 am

I do 465 kids portraits every summer for a local camp.

Sin #1: Never let anyone handle your camera bag who doesn’t know what’s in it. The camp supplies an assistant who knows the kids. Well, while getting set up, he grabbed my camera bag, lifted is slowly, carefully, then moved it about ten feet, again slowly, carefully, then as he slowly, carefully set it down, he thumped it to the ground. The resulting thump broke the uv filter on my 70-200 vr but fortunately didn’t scratch the lens: whew!!!

Watch that camera.

I keep my D3 with me all the time. I was getting it and my bag out of my truck when the strap on my bag caught the camera body. In a split second the camera and lens tumbled to the ground. The lens cap hit first, so I think, “Okay, no problem.” I remove the lens cap to find that the uv filter broke, the lens cap jammed in place, and the front element of the lens was scratched to oblivion.

Lesson learned: watch your equipment and who handles it.

Let’s all have an equipment safe New Year.

Misty McElroy says:

on January 6, 2010 at 11:05 am

I shoot for a university, and I decided that I wanted a nice telephoto lens to shoot sports and some portraits- I wanted a 300 2.8. Since the university wouldn’t spring for the lens, I decided to purchase it myself. I use it for freelance sports work also, so this decently justifies forking out the 4 grand myself.

I always know where my lenses are, and this one especially. It’s one of those things I don’t use everyday, but I see it everyday…. and thus always “know” where it is.

Realizing that I hadn’t concretely seen my 300 in a few days, I panicked. I searched everywhere, called everyone I could think of to keep an eye out for it, called campus police, giving them the make/model/description/serial number of the lens and the last place I remember seeing it.

Then after a few hours of racking my brain, I KNEW where it was. I ran to the football stadium as fast as I could.. and sure enough. Up behind the top row of the bleachers tucked behind one of the seats was my 300. I had left it there SIX days earlier when doing a shoot for the mascot. It sat there outside through several days of rain and still works fine.

Let’s hope I’ve learned my lesson. But I’m sure I haven’t.

Ben says:

on January 6, 2010 at 11:40 am

Oh how I hate admitting this!

A few years ago I was shooting an assignment for a publisher in Eastern Europe. The assignment was for 30 full-page prints to be used in a book, plus the cover shot. The publisher hired the models, including a well-known celebrity and also a fashion model favorite of the writers. We went over the storyline, with the CD and AD, and mapped out a 5 day shoot with 6 session per day, figured this would leave me room on the 5th day for possible reshoot’s and some of my own composition ideas.

I rented a rather large 2-story studio with a flying bridge over the set, the studio belonged to a painter so, I was very careful about keeping everyone away from all of paintings and roped off the area where he stored the canvases. Everything went fine on the first 2 day’s but on the third day, one of the primary models showed up late and hung-over. The publisher was very adamant about using this model and actually had to negotiate hard to get her so, I knew that I had to mute my anger over this situation. I pulled her designated makeup artist to the side and asked her to do her best while trying to make her forget about feeling hung-over.

The first 3 sets went rather slow and it didn’t help that I had to keep running up and down the ladder, as my translator was not the best for translating my direction and motivation but fortunately I could speak some of the language. After setting the lights and composition for the 4th set, I was headed back up the ladder when I heard this flop sound, near my set, I looked down and noticed that one of the assistance had knocked their water bottle behind a table, off set. I decided that it wasn’t important enough for me to stop the shoot and began shooting the 4th session. As I was shooting I heard a large crash, that same assistant was trying to get her water bottle from behind the table and managed to knock some canvases down on the other side: why?!!!!!!! I could not respond to it, as I had to get back on schedule and keep my models focused, figured that I would wait until the end of the day and see if there was any actual damage, inside I was so PISSED!!!. Put myself into a tunnel vision state of mind and decided that I needed to block everything outside of my set and composition out, I needed desperately to get this day done and stay within my time restraints.

Finally got all of the sessions shot, within the contracted time schedule that I had with all of the models, released everyone and went to check on those canvases. Come to find out that one of canvases was a 200 year old painting that the artist was commissioned to restore, the damage wasn’t bad bur still set me back $1,200.00. Thought to myself, how could this day possibly be any worse? I found out later that night.

The publisher had set up a workstation for me, in their graphic designers studio, and gave me a key for entry. I went in late to sort through the day’s shots and once I got into the 4th session, I noticed all of the frames had the shutter in them. My echoing voice could be heard throughout the building; “What the…!!!!!” Turns out that after all of the dumps that day, I got so focused on the set and getting this day completed, I lost focus on the simplest details. The last three sessions were similar in lighting and this helped me to get back on schedule but I somehow had adjusted the shutter speed up to 1/400, with no high speed sync. I was so determined to finish the last 3 sessions that I stopped perusing the shots, as I knew that I was nailing them in the early sessions, figured this would save me some time on a very late day. So, here I was with 2 sessions of out of sync shots, beautiful captures of the shutter in each of the compositions….

Thanks to humble, I had the time on the 5th day to reshoot those sessions and needless to say, I check my settings with extreme paranoia now :) .

Mark says:

on January 6, 2010 at 11:45 am

Very funny and very true!

Reminds me a lot of lightenupandshoot.com. Funny videos teach better than boring technical ones. So keep up the good work!


Mike Neale says:

on January 6, 2010 at 1:31 pm

Sin??? Saints don’t sin,…we walk on water!

Mia copa, mia copa, mia copa!……;-)

Brett says:

on January 6, 2010 at 2:33 pm

So we had a big family shoot with multiple models including children in a mansion we rented for the day. There was myself and another more experienced photographer both shooting tethered onto iMacs with Hasselblads. He was shooting the lifestyle shots and I was shooting on sweep. The models were getting a little frisky and hilarious on silo and when we broke for a late lunch, the more experienced photographer decides he wants some of the shots from the sweep so I give him a hard drive and set in upon my noodle bowl. I had a very specific naming convention for folders but I failed to make them different on each computer so when he went to copy the sweep shots to his machine, it replaced the entire folder and we lost all of the environment shots we’d slaved over all morning. He said there was no warning dialogue box asking if you want to replace the folder, thus it was my fault…We had to scramble to try and recreate all the shots we’d taken and still get through the entire shot list without too blatantly compromising any child labor laws. Luckily, things always go faster the second time around and the models were patient with a redo! Why am I doomed only learn lessons from an epic fail?

Chris Inch says:

on January 6, 2010 at 4:01 pm

I wanted to share a story from 2009 that is not quite a sin on my part, but rather a memory card sin, and it’ll stay with me forever.

During the Easter long weekend in 2009, my entire family got together at my parent’s house. This is an unusual occurrence for an Easter weekend since my brothers literally live on opposite coasts of Canada and it’s quite a distance to travel. It was just a fluke that we were all around. My grandma, Ruby, was also at my parent’s house all weekend. Ruby, living just around the corner from where we all grew up, was a huge part of our lives growing up. She babysat us as kids, sewed patches on our ripped jeans, fed us after piano lessons and cared so much for each of her 7 grand children.

That weekend, I took some great photos of the family, including some amazing shots of my grandma. She loved playing Boggle, and could beat most of us every game. She even made a Boggle trophy for the winner of Boggle that weekend.

After a 6 hour trip home after Easter, I tried to transfer the photos to my computer, only to discover that the memory card had failed somewhere along the line, and it was showing up in every device as “EMPTY”. I shrugged it off, figuring that I lost some random family photos, and put the card in a drawer.

Five days later, I received a phone call from my Mom. My grandma had a stroke while gardening in her backyard. She was taken to the hospital for a week or so, and then back to her home in a hospital bed, for what would be the rest of her life. She had lost all mobility on one side and the ability to speak, and swallowing was very hard. She did not, however seem to lose any of her intelligence or understanding of what was going on around her.

It was at this time that I realized how important those photos were, that I had just taken with the family. I spent the next week trying everything I could to recover the data that was on that memory card, and after many many hours, I was successful. I recovered all of the photos and was able to print some of them off to bring with me when I visited Ruby the next weekend.

When I brought the photos to show my grandma, I could see in her eyes, that my time spent recovering photos from the botched memory card was well worth it. Those photos, which just about ended up in the trash, are now some of my most treasured photos.

My grandma passed away one month later on May 16, 2009.

Dean says:

on January 6, 2010 at 5:51 pm

My biggest sin: devaluing my work – and everyone else’s. I’ve been shooting community theater and high school dance events for free for the last three years. But now times are tough and I’m looking for ways to defray some of my costs (not to mention hours shooting and post-processing). Unfortunately, the people I’ve been shooting for cannot even CONCEIVE of paying for something they’ve been getting for free. I don’t think the “clients” would ever have hired professionals, so I don’t think I took anyone’s work away, but the devaluation is bad all around.

Cody says:

on January 6, 2010 at 6:53 pm

This last year was a big year for me, and perhaps due to the significance of the event, might I compete with the other “winners” for screw-up’s. There have been some doozeys so far – I consider myself lucky that I had an “out”.

Early 2009: I’m a highly analytical 28 year old with a girlfriend of two’ish years, but still uncertain of our future together (or more to the point, my capacity to be a husband).

In early April during one memorable conversation I am metaphorically punched in the face with the realization that I desperately love her and that no amount of preparation will accommodate my lack of confidence in the next great adventure: marriage.

My coy and subtle self does some minor probing to get a sense of preferred engagement techniques (what stories has she heard that she likes, etc) so that I can know if I’m to be on my knee in the traditional fashion, or if I needed to rent a biplane and fly the message all over the sky. I found a happy medium: around a group of loved friends (like at someone else’s anniversary party), but yet traditional to an extent (a surprise, me on my knee, etc). Great. Where do I find an environment like that without letting the cat out of the bag?

Suddenly it dawns on me that in 10 days, we would both be heading to Spokane for a conference with several friends & associates, and that typically, there was a group dinner on the last evening of the conference — perfect!

The week before traveling, I’m all over the place trying to find the perfect ring, calling her parents to receive their blessing, consulting with trusted mentors about this massive decision, being dazed at the reality that I’m getting engaged, not to mention preparing for the business aspect of the trip.

As packing commences, I realize that I cannot seem to find my point-and-shoot camera that I frequently take for these functions to record video on-the-fly. Being a photographer and documenter by nature, this was one moment that I didn’t want to miss – wedding kisses can be redone, cake eating can happen any time, but proposing to your one and only wife… there’s no re-do.

Well, the camera doesn’t turn up, and thanks to Spokane’s Huppins Hi-Fi Photo, I was able to buy a replacement (Canon PowerShot SD780 and a 16GB HCSD card) for a fraction of the price of the rock I was about to put on her finger. Heck, this thing even does HD video at 1280×720 with 30fps! Perfect. The stars are aligning and things are coming together!

Sunday, the last day of the conference, I finally get through to her father and receive his blessing (yes, I know I was cutting it close, but he was traveling!!). The conference ends, and after a quick stop by the hotel room to change (and grab the ring) we’re off to dinner.

As we arrive, I enlisted the help of a couple of friends to take pictures & video of the big moment – passing off my camera so they could get some shots and get used to it. Things were going great. Then, the gal that was carrying that ‘spensive new camera informed me that it went dead!

Are you kidding me? I made everything in the world come together, and in my miracle making, I forgot to charge the newly purchased camera battery? Holy useless-drained-batteries batman, are you serious? Alas, there was nothing to be done. I wasn’t about to traipse around to ask for other cameras “just cause”, so I let her know she’d only get a couple shots and to leave it off until then. Then I crossed my fingers.

Fortunately, my saving grace was that I had the first-gen iPhone complete with jailbrokeness. The “l33t h4ck” enabled the phone to take video of the big moment. Another friend was able to capture the whole thing on it’s grainy, lo-res sensor at 15fps. Eureka!

Who’d have known at the time that we’d opt for a fast engagement: married just 7 weeks later at one of the most amazing wedding and celebration for 200+ friends and family. We still receive comments that our ceremony and subsequent party had been the most “real” and amazing wedding that many had experienced. We’ve been married for 7 months as of today with hundreds and hundreds more to come. I am a blessed man indeed.

On the topic of photography, I’ll brag a little bit more: my wife is absolutely amazing as a willing and capable assistant – who’d have ever thought that my wedding this woman would provide me with someone who can shoot right along side of me during the day and then, with such grace and strength, care for her “main shooter” after we’re back at home and I’m on to post-production? Wow.


PS – for those interested in the process I undertook for our engagement/wedding/honeymoon, I’ve chronicled the whole thing for all to see: http://codyjbennett.com/wedding/ — specifically, the engagement video can be seen at http://juneauwedding.wordpress.com/2009/04/24/the-moment/

PPS – Heather, you are the love of my life, and I am truly blessed to be married to you. Through our ups and downs, twists and turns of life, you are the only one that I could ever be with. Thank you for your unending patience, support, encouragement, respect and love. You complete me.

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