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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…

Dwayne D.C. Tucker II says:

on January 4, 2010 at 6:59 am

Joe, “This is a private video. If you have been sent this video, please make sure you accept the sender’s friend request.” I wanted to see it :) Happy New Years!

Nassau, Bahamas

Marc says:

on January 4, 2010 at 7:01 am

Hey Joe, the youtube video won’t play! (says it’s a private video…)

aradilon says:

on January 4, 2010 at 7:02 am

Its a private video on youtube.

Drew Gurian says:

on January 4, 2010 at 7:14 am

sorry guys,

the WordPress posting scheduler got botched and posted an hour early….should be running smoothly now, and sorry for that!

Michael says:

on January 4, 2010 at 7:18 am

Where did you film this? You’re both breathing frosty air.

Dom says:

on January 4, 2010 at 7:18 am

Must have been shot in a cold room…. given the fog coming out of father Bob’s mouth.

Mark Tipple says:

on January 4, 2010 at 7:20 am

Walking into the water with big goofy flipper’s on looking towards the surf through sleepy eyed syndrome – usually I dunk my camera and housing to check all lugs are solid and there’s no internal leakage while I’m still standing, but this day Murphy’s law ruled and all I jumped through the shorebreak and started kicking, instantly clearing my head and refreshing my thoughts only to remember that I had cleaned the dried salt from the bolts around the pistol grip the night before and only tightened them finger-tight.

Water drops on the inside of then housing and port running to the glass end of a fisheye as I’m scrambling back through the same whitewater shorey saying a prayer that they don’t run through the dumb useless internal microphone hole and do some serious damage.

Made it back to my towel and in my frantic state unloaded a pound of sand into the body of the housing…but sand is better/kinder/easier to deal with than salt water I guess. Wrote a word with a sharpie on the top of the housing – one word to stop future blunders – Remember.

Dude I was shooting with was waiting out the back and saw the whole thing, didn’t bother catching any waves he just sat there cracking up. Hope he didn’t tell the photo ed. Rookie…..

Bruno Axhausen says:

on January 4, 2010 at 7:22 am

You made my day Joe, thank you!

As for my own sins, nothing too big this year. Except for the first attempt at off-camera flash… shooting dozens of frames, giggling like crazy at the awesome new quality of light I was achieving and finally noticing I’d f++ed up and shot with just the pop-up flash the whole time. Well, the power of suggestion.

Happy new year to you, thanks for everything!

Dwayne D.C. Tucker II says:

on January 4, 2010 at 7:24 am

Thanks for fixing the video haha this made my morning!!! :) Joe your too much!

Nassau, Bahamas

Thomas says:

on January 4, 2010 at 7:25 am

For my first town-hall wedding I decided to go high ISO for the chamber shooting. Small dark room, dark walls hard to bounce off. Lots of people, very little time.

No problem.

Except I forgot to go back to ISO 100/200ish. Shot most of the outside shots on 1600iso (with a pentax K10D, *not* the noiseless wonder camera).

Not to bad. Kind of fixable in post. Survivable.

Except for the fact that the groom designed digital backs for PhaseOne – yes, those big Large/medium Format noiseless wonders. He spotted every single one of those hot pixels, faster then Uncle Bob heading for the buffet.

Forgave me and is still my friend..

Moe Maamoun says:

on January 4, 2010 at 7:27 am

A client contacted me in my most dire financial problems asking if I can shoot furniture.

I never did it before, I reply.
Client asks if I can take any furniture photos and send it to them. “I have no furniture in my place” I say, but I suggest I’ll shoot at a friend’s.

I grab my camera call a friend and go to shoot his nice nice furniture.
Use the devil’s “Live View” for the first time.

I go back home and Karma’s slap is that I never pressed the autofocus button on the back of my camera or manually focused any of the shots!

Eventually, I have nothing to show to the client and I lose the job!

aradilon says:

on January 4, 2010 at 7:29 am

Great movie!

jeremy mayhew says:

on January 4, 2010 at 7:36 am

that was great! “we can’t all be annie lebovitz, some of us have to do the grunt work”…that is so true, i feel like that all the time. What did you shoot this with, and where did you shoot it, it looked cold.

thanks for all you do Joe, your the tops.

Rob Byron says:

on January 4, 2010 at 7:39 am

This ones easy.

I’m at Harris Lake Park waiting for my client when my phone goes off. “Where are you?” Apparently when my cient put “Harris Lake” in writing as her location for the shoot, she actually meant “Bond Park.”

That’s okay. Bond Park is only 20 minues away and I DON’T have a permit to shoot there but we’ll shoot there anyway. I throw my gear back in the van and off I go.

I get there and the client’s mad. I apologize for her mistake. I set everything up and notice I didn’t bring any extra cards. That’s not a problem, however, because the one in the camera should be all I need except there isn’t one in the camera. The client goes nuts when I mention I have to run to the store to buy a card.

In the essence of time the client offers to watch my equipment while I make a quick beer, I mean, card run. The light isn’t going to stay pretty for long so I fly like the wind to get this done. I’m back in less than 15 minutes but the client is nowhere to be seen. Thankfully, my equipment was still there.

Good times man. Good times.

Adam says:

on January 4, 2010 at 7:42 am

Ok here goes my sin:

I was supposed to shoot rock concert for a college magazine. Sweet job, free concert – NOT!

I’ve forgot my ear plugs.. Not a biggie – NOT! I was attacked by powerful force of rock destruction (I am a Jazz person).

Result? My left ear is ruined (seriously I got funny buzzy sounds for over a month – doctor says “you will be fine” – hate Poland btw for that.)

Anyway back for photo. I didn’t took my flash. I had f/1.4 lens with me so I thought I will be fine – NOT! The place was dark as darth vader.

So I went home I was like 1:00 PM at home with dizzynes and buzzynes all over my head. I turned on Lightroom and make a quick picking up and sorting stuff. Some development and export. Not a big deal huh? I sended photos in a 72dpi jpgs with quality like 60.. I call it a miss click.. in my preset export settings.

At the end they don’t want to talk with me anymore !

Jeffrey Snyder says:

on January 4, 2010 at 7:43 am

Well done, Hysterical as always. But I checked in with Saint Corrado and Rabbi Snyder & we feel that a few sins have been left out…

glenn usdin says:

on January 4, 2010 at 7:45 am

this is super-bad! you guys nailed it. happy 2010!

Brodie Butler says:

on January 4, 2010 at 7:46 am

I actually Laughed Out Loud. I dont know which videos I love more Joe, the highly useful technical videos or the silly amusing videos such as this one. Looks like you put some effort into the script on this one too.

Now… to think of all my sins without getting a headache.

Adam says:

on January 4, 2010 at 7:49 am

Gosh I ment 1:00am..

Don Risi says:

on January 4, 2010 at 7:50 am

Must have been cold as . . . ahem . . . hell in that chapel. could see both everyone’s breaths.

Ravet007 says:

on January 4, 2010 at 7:53 am

Hilarious work. Saint David and Ansel, wow !!!! Loved the pixel prayer :)

Guille says:

on January 4, 2010 at 7:55 am

Last June, in reply to two offer requests, I wrote two replies: one to a tattoo artist for an alternative fashion shoot goes porno -photoseries, the other for a photo documentary and portrait shoot involving a classic old western style cosplay event.

I nailed the tattoo porno -job and client was very happy with the photos. I was a bit disappointed though, never hearing anything from the other client. Didn’t realize why they never replied until I had invoiced the tattoo model and she called to say the invoice is for less than the cost estimate was: I had mixed up letters and mailed both clients the wrong cost estimate & reference photos…

Slimeface says:

on January 4, 2010 at 7:58 am

Holy histograms! That was good!!

Rocky Lee says:

on January 4, 2010 at 8:05 am

Biggest Sin? Reading\Watching (blogs,DVDs, forums,videos, articles,web sites etc) about taking photographs too much instead of actually _taking_ photographs. Spending more money on gear and not spending more time behind the viewfinder doing the deed. Photographs may be made from the sidelines, but it is very much _not_ a spectator sport. No excuse not to be anxiously engaged in making fantastic images and making the next 100 images better than the last 100.

Raul Lamoso says:

on January 4, 2010 at 8:05 am

Ha ha ha …. You are relly “crazy” XD.
You are an excellent actor !!! (both of yours). Do you think about to work in Hollywood (seriously! )

The past year, when I was shooting a wedding, I accidentally turns the “modes dial” of the camera. So, when we go out to shoot the “rice moment”, all the pictures was over-exposure.

When I realize this fact in the restaurant, I speak with all the guest in the party (I told them a little lie). I said: “Usually I always put a couple of sheets in the album with pictures mades for the guest. So please… send me by mail all the pictures you have taken, ESPECIALLY THE PICTURES OF THE “RICE-MOMENT” )…… XD

This way I could “save” the wedding album…


Raul Lamoso says:

on January 4, 2010 at 8:08 am

I apologize for my english, joe…
I mean

The past year, when I was shooting a wedding, I accidentally turns the “modes dial” of the camera. So, when we go out to shoot the “rice moment”, all the pictures was over-exposed.

When I realize this fact in the restaurant, I speak with all the guest in the party (I told them a little lie). I said: “Usually I always put a couple of sheets in the album with pictures taken by the guest. So please… send me by mail all the pictures you have taken, ESPECIALLY THE PICTURES OF THE “RICE-MOMENT” )…… XD

This way I could “save” the wedding album…

Dave says:

on January 4, 2010 at 8:08 am

I purchased Pentax…. A top of the line, (at the time), K20d, battery grip, and multiple lens. It seamed like a good decision at the time, so did that giraffe that I bought, but now I find myself wanting/needing more and having nowhere to go in the Pentax lineup. I now need to spend thousands more on not just on a new body, (camera body), but all new lenses! Aye carumba! P.S. Slightly used Giraffe for sale, cheap, low miles, only ridden once, is tolerant of drunks but doesn’t like his tail used as a handle.

Luis Faustino says:

on January 4, 2010 at 8:12 am

Bless me father as I have sinned:
-On a mountain biking shoot we reached the very top of the hills, positioned cameras and reviewed the action, only to realize I had not placed the CF card in the camera or bag;
-Keep avoiding some prospect clients;
-Went thru all Xmas photos with my lens filter dirty;
-Havent backed-up my photos lately;
-keep thinking about the lens I dont have;

Is there forgiveness for all this?

Raphael Puttini says:

on January 4, 2010 at 8:16 am

I must confess Joe, I sinned!

It was a late night flight from my one-month trip in Brazil, going from Recife back to São Paulo, to then catch my flight back to Paris. It was 03:00 in the morning, full moon, and the sky was clear. Beautiful view during the climbout: the coast, the city lights, some small clouds, I could see everything! One of these shots to make the first page in! So, where was my D700? In the overhead bin. Seatbelts signs still on. And two guys already snorting at my side. Ok, let’s try with the iPhone anyway! And the almighty iPhone, who knows it all, just laughed at me and took crappy snaps where usually he could manage to take something “nice”.

I repent. Now I glued my D700 around my neck. :)

Charlie Flynn says:

on January 4, 2010 at 8:17 am

Photographer Joe finally decides to go to confession. He enters the confessional and is amazed to see a fully stocked bar with Guinness on Tap. The sideboard has a box of fine cigars and another with gourmet chocoloates. He thinks: “Things have certainly changed since the last time I visited a confessional.” Joe is yeilding to temptation and reaching for a cholocate when Father Bob opens the door and says: “Please come out of there. You are on my side.”

jussi says:

on January 4, 2010 at 8:17 am

I thinks I shot the same freaking picture over and over again in the 2009… Faces changed but the pictures didn’t.

Raymond Storger says:

on January 4, 2010 at 8:25 am

great video – good for a few laughs. But stick to Photography.
BTW – leave the dark side of the force and come see the light from the Canon side. LOL.

Borna Cavrag says:

on January 4, 2010 at 8:27 am – I managed to get this published. nuff said.

Actually this is a croatian actress who comes to a fashion show and than declines to be photographed. Because she hates media and the media attention. she just comes to the front row of a fashion show. so we published this 😀

Kris Mitchell says:

on January 4, 2010 at 8:31 am

Hilarious – and it’s looks like a bloody cold room! But just to be a pedant… “Darks on the left, lights on the right..” weren’t you touching the wrong shoulders?

As for my Cardinal sin? forgetting to check my setting before a shoot. I tend not to “chimp” and I got about halfway through a sitting when I realized I had the camera set to the same setting I’d used at a gig the night before! ISO 3200!! Every shot was blown and I had to start it all over again. Having said that. I used a page out of your book, telling the model that I just wanted to get some more safety shots on a new memory card. You know, just in case something bad happened to the first one.

Happy new year eh?


Eugene says:

on January 4, 2010 at 8:31 am

apart from the sin of not shooting enough, it would have to be playing a prank on people shooting off camera flash at an event. During the event, I had managed to turn almost flash in the room to SU-4 (this was a learning sort of event, most people had just gotten off camera), and then well …. all hell broke loose and everyone was triggering everyone, general mayhem ensues 😀

Steve Bennett says:

on January 4, 2010 at 8:37 am

In June I took a trip to Southern Utah to tackle The Great Southwest. I wanting to play with light painting techniques at Arches National Park. One late afternoon, I headed out to capture Delicate Arch at night, fully equipped with tripod, a rain poncho, and THREE flashlights, including a 3 million watt Q-Beam.

It is about a mile and a half hike in from the parking lot to the famous arch, over mostly slick rock.

I made it up to the arch fine, along with a sizable crowd, got the obligatory afternoon and sunset shots, even some nice double rainbow shots through a late afternoon storm.

After the sunset and everyone else had left, I pulled out the Q-Beam and lit the arch to my heart’s content.

At about 11 pm, I decided to head back to the car. I pulled out my head light to head down. Dead batteries. No problem. I had my little led flashlight, which took me down about half way, until I reached cliff edges, lost my cairn trail, and could no longer venture forward. Great, I still have a fully charged Q-Beam. Turned it on and lit half the valley.

I walked about 30 yards when the battery pack fell off the back of the Q-Beam and hit slick rock. I was down to my little LED light which couldn’t shine to the bottom of the cliffs I kept running into. After wandering awhile, the LED faded and I was there, alone with the cougars and stars.

I found a niche in the rocks, ended up pitching my tripod, using the poncho as a partial cover, and my backpack as a pillow. I’ve never seen more beautiful stars, nor for a longer period of time, or heard more imaginary cougar growls or scuffles.

Once the morning light made it possible about 5 am, I got myself together, found the cairn trail a few hundred yards away, and made my way back down to my vehicle, hopefully a little wiser and looking for a new Q-Beam and batteries.

Duncan says:

on January 4, 2010 at 8:39 am

I have to confess I’m responsible 3 times for not checking that my flash is properly secured to the lightstand before picking it up. This resulted in both my flash units being dropped onto hard concrete from 6′ and crashing loudly onto the floor. Thank goodness Nikon make robust flash units, as they have both survived the fall, but replacement diffuser domes are kinda costly, but still, better than replacing the entire flash unit.

As a new year’s resolution, I’m going to get one of those label makers and put reminders on all my units to remember to secure them properly.

Scott Kelby says:

on January 4, 2010 at 8:42 am

What a great way to start 2009. You guys rock!!!! :-)

Happy New Year!


Jeremy Sale says:

on January 4, 2010 at 8:43 am

Well, nothing too egregious. But one one large family reunion I shot outdoors sticks out on my sin list.

It was overcast, and the very occasional raindrop would come down—not enough to spook the herd, but threatening. Got through the shoot fine, but noticed at home that there was a nice fat raindrop on my lens for the last 95% of the photos. The drop either obliterated someone’s face, or made it appear that a dead relative was joining us.

There was some ‘shoppin to be done, let me tell you.

Max Hermans says:

on January 4, 2010 at 8:46 am

This was Awesome!

Michele Stapleton says:

on January 4, 2010 at 9:01 am

Holy Histograms. Such a joy to watch this video with two photo legends.

Traian says:

on January 4, 2010 at 9:02 am

I also shot the same picture over and over again in 2009. Moreover, the face did not change at all: my kid looks now exactly like he did when he was 1-year old

Sarah Kavanaugh says:

on January 4, 2010 at 9:04 am

So many details in this job, how could you NOT screw up at least once in a while. Lists of equipment! Check all settings! You only get one try with most people, which sucks.

Once again, good to know I’m not the only goof photog in the world.


michael says:

on January 4, 2010 at 9:08 am

Oh where to start…

Plasticized HDR’s?
a few 10 Image Panoramas (yeah Moose, I’m still doing them on occasion :P)
Trespassing for a shot?
Stood in one spot for an entire football game?
Sat in one spot for an entire basketball game?
Using company equipment for a personal shoot?
Taking about 25lbs of camera equipment on a backpacking trip (with the best intentions of course) and only using about 3lbs of it?

Nah, I think my biggest sin of this year was while shooting a state budget committee meeting for my college newspaper.

Bless me Father, for I have sinned – badly:

The writer and I were waiting for a specific individual to talk, and like all good bureaucratic systems, we didn’t know exactly when he would. Before the subject had a chance to speak I had to leave for an appointment I made earlier that week for another shot.

I LEFT MY CAMERA WITH THE WRITER in case the speaker started before I got back. I drove five minutes down the road to the newspaper’s office, grabbed one of the pool cameras and a strobe, shot the portrait, and PUT THE EQUIPMENT BACK IN THE OFFICE before leaving to go back to the budget meeting.

When I got there, I was asked by an Associated Press writer if I was a photographer and if I could get a shot of another individual for his story. “Awesome!” I thought. I’d just been given a chance to shoot for the AP! I took a quick scan around the room and the writer – and my camera – were no where to be seen.

A quick check of my phone showed a missed text message telling me the speaker had said his piece and that the writer had GONE BACK TO THE OFFICE WITH MY CAMERA.


I broke the cardinal rule – the most evil of sins: I WAS WITHOUT A CAMERA. And it cost me my first (and so far, only) opportunity to shoot for the Associate Press (and a fair bit of embarrassment when I had to tell the AP writer I didn’t have a camera with me).

Great video Joe (and Bob)!

Mike Noble says:

on January 4, 2010 at 9:11 am

What a wonderful little movie. Loved it. Laughed out loud.

As for my sins, I am guilty of not zeroing the camera. I do a lot of interiors and use the bracketing feature on my D700 for these occasions. Usually I zero everything at the end of a shoot, but this one got away from me.

The next job was for a magazine and I was photographing several surgeons as they were being interviewed for the article. I also shot a few exteriors of their office and then shot a group shot with flash .

I started with the outdoor shot and noticed that my shutter speed was jumping all over the place as I shot. (I shoot aperture priority.) I kept adjusting the shutter speed to get the right exposure. Then the same thing was happening shooting available light during the interview. I was nervous but kept up a brave front. I was basically over-riding the exposure on every shot. Same thing with the flash work.

It just didn’t dawn on me that the camera was putting in a seven shot bracket. DOH!

Anyway, I got the shots despite the screw-up but I was totally chagrined when I finally figured out what had happened as I drove home after the shoot. My 63 year old brain needs more exercise!

Martin says:

on January 4, 2010 at 9:22 am

Looks like your church could use a heater.
Happy New Year!

Greg Cook says:

on January 4, 2010 at 9:24 am

January 2009 started with a big splash. We went whale watching in a small boat off the coast of Hawaii. It was a beautiful calm day and I didn’t even consider that the camera would get wet. Talk about a sin. After getting several great shots, a large Humpback decided to give us an up-close and personal look at his tail. Everything on the boat got soaked, including my uncovered D3 and f2.8 300mm lens. Lesson learned the hard way.
Greg C.

.joe says:

on January 4, 2010 at 9:27 am

i got too close to the action and my 24-70 got ripped off my camera in the middle of the wedding reception.

my big sin was staying flat footed. i rarely got creative with my shots. i would get the shot and not even attempt to move to the left or to the right even. i missed a lot of great opportunities for better light.

Mark says:

on January 4, 2010 at 9:34 am

This is an instant classic. Chase better get up on his horse to top this one.

I commit so many sins, I don’t even bothter with confession anymore…

Amberlee Christey says:

on January 4, 2010 at 9:37 am

Oh I have a good one…
I shot all day and half of the evening for a wedding back in June… I get home that evening and go to my camera bag to get my cards out to load them and they are no where to be found… Go through all my pockets, my car, everywhere, but they are no where. By this time I am hysterical… My husband puts me in my car and we drive back to the reception site (which is the middle of a field 30 minutes away) We pull into the field tears in eyes, and I think to my self there is no way were going to find this thing until morning and it was suppose to pour later on… Just then I remembered one of the last photos I took I was laying on a rock. After about 10 minutes I found the rock and wouldnt you know right there sat my card pouch, safe and sound… That thing is now tied and safety pined to me at all times!

Kræn Bech-Petersen says:

on January 4, 2010 at 9:52 am

Well my biggest sin has to be the day when I was supposed to do some photos for the school my mother works at. They had a big protest meeting and I promised to do some photos they could use on their website and for press announcements.

So the day came and I grabbed my camera and off we went. My father brought his Nikon point-and-shoot and I was bragging about the lack of features of it and that it couldn’t shoot RAW-files and all these stuff. Then I turned on my own camera to do a little show-off an then my face went gray – I had forgotten to put my memory card back in the camera and I didn’t bring extra.

That was really embarrassing and my father laughed at me.

Dave says:

on January 4, 2010 at 9:58 am

Well my confession would be that I read too much stuff and don’t put it to work in the field!

I tend to read everything I can on photography and then when I shoot I over think things and end up not getting what I want out of the shots. Later while looking at them on the computer I realize what I did and that I missed that moment.

Only thing to do is try to get my head out of the way when I shoot!

As long as I’m not canonized for it!! LOL

Scott says:

on January 4, 2010 at 10:03 am

I used to think it was a sin to take a bad picture, to make sure it was absolutely perfect. But I have found out, that the mistakes, wrong exposure, not sharp, wrong iso, etc. etc. That these images have alot of merit and turn out sometimes to be the best I’ve taken. I have learned not to delete so fast and to work the image and this has taken me into becoming a better photographer.

Thanks for your work Joe!

John Milleker says:

on January 4, 2010 at 10:07 am

I haven’t leisurely shot digital in two months. I’ve been enjoying shooting, developing and enlarging film again. 35mm, 120 and 4×5 – B&W & C-41.

Michael S. says:

on January 4, 2010 at 10:07 am

What a trip….hilarious!!!

Sam says:

on January 4, 2010 at 10:07 am

My sin, oh my…

My D200 was stolen and my D700 was in the shop for a couple days getting a new shutter, so i was, with the exception of an F100 and an FE, camera-less. I had no jobs for a week, so no worries, mini vacation, going through images, sorting things, updating portfolio stuff and i get a call from my editor asking me to cover something in 5 hours, Lee Ritenour playing at Catalina’s in LA.

In a hurry, i go to rent some gear for the night, someone has just returned a Canon 5D MkII and a couple primes, and I can’t resist to the temptation of using the 24mm f1.4, I rent the camera, the 24mm, the 85mm f1.2, a sigma 50mm f1.4 (to compare it to my Nikkor 50 since mine just got hit by a baseball at 100 mph, hence why the D700 was in the shop.) I go home, pull out the tripod so I can try some video at the show…”hey, it might be fun” i say to myself. I go through all the menus, all the settings and shoot for 2.5 hours around the house to get to know the camera. I have an hour before I need to leave for the show, I put the camera battery to charge, put all the gear away in a bag, read a couple articles regarding video this and that online, take a shower and get ready to leave. Close my bag, my keys, extra shirt, press passes, cell phone… “don’t forget your wallet”…

I get to the show, while the tech is doing sound checks and light checks, I set up on a table by the side of the stage, I open my bag, pull out a memory card, open the camera to put it in, and it dawns on me, I’ve forgotten the battery charging at home. I only have one, I am dead, done, OVER. I look at the time, the show starts in a couple minutes, I can leave and come back but I won’t make it back on time for even the last song if the show goes on for an extra 15 minutes. I look around the room for another photographer shooting Canon, “maybe i can borrow a spare battery?” I find someone, he doesn’t have a battery, but he “can lend me his Rebel Xti, if I want.” I thank him graceously, buy him a drink and take the camera back to my table, pop on a lens and start shooting, the rebel is different then the 5D, and I don’t know how to change apertures, I’m stuck at f5.6 on a lens that can go to f1.2, don’t have a choice, I push the ISO as high as it goes, 1600, lower my shutter speeds as slow as I think I can hold (1/25th considering how nervous and shaky I was)and I shoot, I have to shoot jpg files since the rebel doesn’t like my big cards and I have to shoot on a couple 2 gig cards…

Things are not looking great. End of the show, I give the camera back to it’s owner, thank him again and leave very disapointed. I went home and processed photos in silence for a couple hours, I ended up converting all of them to B&W because of the noise and underexposure that needed massaging… needless to say, my editor wasn’t thrilled.

Came back with this, they loved it:

From now on, as soon as I get in the car, before i leave, I check for everything again, camera, batteries, cards, lenses, filters, flashes, AA batts, gels, cords, wireless triggers… If I have it in the car, my chances of showing up at the shoot with it increase pretty dramatically I think.

Arthur Hawkins says:

on January 4, 2010 at 10:11 am

I had a corporate shoot, the media director/art director/marketing director was on her way to florida, and in a hurry for me to get the shots for the companies website. I set up in a hurry, got the lights going, even used live view on my D3 because she wanted to see the framing of each shot before I took the picture…..
I was trying to keep her calm, do the job, and get it finished so that she could be off on vacation …..I shot the whole thing in jpeg small, instead of RAW….

Linda Brinckerhoff says:

on January 4, 2010 at 10:13 am

The Sin of Not Knowing Your “Real” Client. The bride’s mother hired me to shoot her daughter’s wedding about a year before the big event. SHe warned me that her daughter was a little shy. I stored that info on the defective flash card in my brain. I should have been tipped off when six months later the bride turned down the offer of a free engagement shoot. On the wedding day the bride was totally miserable every time I approached with a camera and had a 6th sense about my shooting candids. When it came time to do some formal shots of the bride and groom alone, the groom didn’t think he needed a jacket and bride didn’t think she needed a bouquet. After 2 test exposures, the bride walked away and was done. I felt totally conflicted the entire day not wanting to ruin the lovely bride’s wedding day but wanting to satisy her mom who was paying me. I got one “album worthy” shot of the bride and groom together. Lesson: Your client may not be the person who writes the check.

Andrea says:

on January 4, 2010 at 10:13 am

This is going to make me laugh all day. My biggest sin is relying on the LCD screen I know it doesn’t tell the truth and I have to break my bad habit of relying on it.

The other sin I pulled was not checking my settings. Shot an outdoor wedding this summer at the wrong ISO. Thankfully the pictures were saved by my Dad’s excellent ability in Photoshop.

The funny story I have is that my Dad and I headed out at dusk to take some photos on a bay in Algonquin Park. I remembered to bring two solar lights to mark the shoreline but forgot to bring a flashlight to get back to the campsite. It was a bit of a nerve wracking walk back through a very dark forest path, and this was after we had been warned of bear sightings! New moto pack flashlight in camera bag.

Love you blogs Joe!

Austin L says:

on January 4, 2010 at 10:14 am

I made one of the biggest NYC sins ever! Almost like something you have in your book Joe “the moment it clicks” but with out the fire! I was shooting Fetish images on a 5 story walk roof top up on 93 street in New York City, had only 2 lights one mono-block with a sofbox and a hotshoe bouncing into an umbrella nothing to crazy right? It was about 9PM at night and I start firing off shots and lighting the whole rooftop up as well as half the block. I get about 20 minutes into my shoot and I start to hear police sirens not a big deal it’s NYC after all you hear it all the time, but this time there are 3 cars all stopped in front of the building I am shooting on so I look over the side and see them all rush inside my building. 2 minutes later there are 6 cops not at all happy about running up 5 flights of stairs because they had a report of “bad things” going down on the roof top! Now It is true the model was in bondage at the time BUT it was part of the shoot! My sin was leaving my permit in the studio in Queens many many blocks away!! Lets say I was lucky to go home that night not in hand cuffs!! Lesson learned!

Wayne says:

on January 4, 2010 at 10:30 am

Spent the first 30 mins shooting the wrong wedding before the penny dropped. Thankfully the correct wedding was close by.

As they say in Ireland “I was a bleedin’ eejit” (idiot)


Miguel Coelho says:

on January 4, 2010 at 10:34 am

I think my biggest photographic sin of the year was simply not taking pictures.

Don’t get me wrong, I took thousands of pictures. But I also started to develop the rather nasty habbit of “leaving it for later”. I’m at home, I see an interesting subject, I figure out the best way to take the picture and, althogh the camera is always ready to shoot, I just leave it for later.

With this “fantastic” aproach, I have created in my mind a rather large portfolio of pictures I never took. If only I could share them…

I have learned the hard way that if you don’t take the picture when you “see” it, you will never take it. Your subject may not be there anymore, the light may change, whatever… but the most important thing is that your mood won’t be the same. You will never “see” the picture in the exact same way.

So I finaly decided to stop being lazy, started to take pictures when they should be taken, started posting some older ones on Flickr and even started to leave replies on blogs! (I think this is my first)

Miguel Coelho

BTW, a friend showed me his new Canon and as I was trying to explain to him why it sucked, I accidentaly pressed the shutter button. was that a sin or an accident?

Ghislain Leduc says:

on January 4, 2010 at 10:34 am

AWESOME! Joe, you are just sooo interesting! Continu the great job! Happy New Year for you and your family!

Health, happiness and lots of free time to live your dreams in 2010!

teve Perks says:

on January 4, 2010 at 10:41 am

I am still reeling from my biggest and costliest sin to date.
Luckily, I am a semi-pro or my family would be eating beans every night for the next couple of years.

Back in April, I photographed an internationally acclaimed mezzo soprano who shall remain nameless, at a live concert.

She was so thrilled with the results, she commissioned me for a portrait session which also went extremely well.

There was the promising prospect of further commissions via word of mouth and I nurtured this client meticulously,adding her as a friend on Twitter and Facebook. (She used my shots as avatars for both)

I am known amongst my friends for having a devilish sense of humor on Facebook and one day I added a picture of an overweight and, to be blunt, scary looking girl wearing a t-shirt displaying the caption: ‘I’m fat – f**k off’

Now, the mezzo soprano was of large build and was desperately trying to shed weight.

I knew we had a problem on the same night, when she changed her Facebook avatar to a point & shoot image taken by her fiance, whom I had also photographed.

Last night, I reached the chapter in David duChemins’ Visionmongers on social networking, where he warns us to be ourselves online, but a carefully edited version of ourselves.

My name is Steve and I’m a bozo.

Forgive me father.

Sara Lando says:

on January 4, 2010 at 10:41 am

I was tweaking stuff in my wordpress blog, where I write down tips and tricks for starting photographers (real basic stuff, like: “remeber to back up”) and I completely nuked the whole database.
To add to that I had downloaded and installed the backup widget but never activated it.

Ken St John says:

on January 4, 2010 at 10:44 am

What a HOOT!!

I’m afraid I haven’t been out enough this year to have any great screw-ups … but my resolution is to reverse that trend this year!!

Thanks to you, Bob and the crew!!


Dave Pawson says:

on January 4, 2010 at 10:53 am

Sin of omission. A plumber visited, spoke of his boxer pup (still very young). I’m a fan (lost mine after 11 years). Guy said he’d bring it round, which he did. I dashed indoors, grabbed my camera and as an exited schoolboy, clicked away as this dog did, as all boxers do, dashing around like a mad thing.

Only when I reviewed the memory did I realise I’d used it as a point and shoot… unlike last time when I’d had it on a shutter priority. They were all nicely blurred as if the dog had been doing a hundred miles an hour.

Luckily, the plumber has never asked to see the pictures and I daren’t ask him to repeat the exercise.

I’d say never again but….

Kim says:

on January 4, 2010 at 10:55 am

Oh wow, that was Awesome. Growing up Catholic only made me laugh harder at “darks on the left, lights on the right”. What a great way to start the day.

I suppose my photographic sins would be along the lines of going to shoot my boys football game and not having a memory card. But I was able to run across and pay twice what I should’ve paid for one at a local store. Now I have at least four SD cards in my bag. I’m only a hobbyist so most of my mistakes help me learn (like forgetting to reset the ISO or the White Balance)…

Noah says:

on January 4, 2010 at 10:57 am

I used a borrowed point and shoot and it was a Canon. Because I didn’t have a Nikon, because I sold it. I sold it to jump ship for Sony. However I had to use the Canon to take pictures of the Sony gear so I could return to Nikon.

Levi Sim says:

on January 4, 2010 at 11:00 am

My assistant and I were getting ready for a shoot we had been jocking for for a while–really handsome family with the most adorable kids ever–emptying cards, charging batteries, cleaning lenses, etc. We get to their home, pick the room and lighting to use, and I fire off a test shot. Only, the camera won’t fire. Good ol’ Nikon, won’t let me shoot without a card!

So I go grab my card wallet from my bag–it’s not there! All my cards are sitting on my desk, neatly formatted and ready to use at the studio.

Undaunted, I put on my poker face and pull out my bag of 128 meg sample cards I picked up somewhere–I’ve got 24 of them, and they hold about 4 pictures each. No problem.

“Why do I keep changing cards? Oh, they can become corrupted, so I’m trying a new workflow so I don’t lose all my pictures at once–eggs in baskets, you know.”


Luka says:

on January 4, 2010 at 11:11 am

So, I decide to start with photography in january. I read all the reviews of cameras, lenses, speedlights, etc. I decided on the Nikon D90. I even buy a couple of books on it. So I go to the store, all hyped and all, and I see this amazing special offer, it was almost half the price than usual — me not giving it a second thought, sales and all — so I pick it up and an extra lens, since the price was so much lower. I even got the extra 2 year warranty.

… I get home. I unpack. I see a D60. Priceless.

Brandt Steinhauser says:

on January 4, 2010 at 11:12 am

I really enjoy shooting sunsets at a nearby park. The problem is that during the Winter, it is already dark by the time I get home from my 9-5. So the opportunities to capture Winter sunsets in the park are rare. The opportunities to capture Winter sunsets in the park that are snow covered are more rare. However, the weekend prior to Christmas, that opportunity had presented itself.

On the Friday night, I had returned home from a family gathering where I had shot a lot of photos and HDR as well. I placed my camera in my office, uploaded the photos, set my battery to charge, and cleaned my lens. This is usual practice for returning home from a shoot.

Saturday the snow came. Finally, I had the opportunity to shoot a snow-covered park sunset. Around 3:00, I gathered my gear, hopped in my car, and headed out to the park (about 20mins away). I arrived at the park and it looked spectacular. I parked my car and grabbed my gear. I set the camera up on the tri-pod only to find out that my battery was running low. What the heck?? Turns out that I had charged my spare battery and never charged the battery that was in the camera. No worries, I go to grab my spare battery and…..OHHHHHh. It is still on the charger back at the house. So I had very little charge left on the battery that was in the camera. I had to make every shot count. Running home was not an option, I would have lost the light. So I setup the tri-pod. The sun is setting beautifully over the frozen lake. I take about 10 photos before the battery completely fails.

Feeling utterly disgusted, I hang my head and make the journey back home. I placed my camera in my office, uploaded the photos, set my battery to charge, and cleaned my lens. While go through the photos I realize another problem. I still had bracketing turned on from shooting HDRs the night before. UGHH!! I was so flustered at the park that I completely for got to check it.

So there I sat looking at only 3 average photos from the frozen lake. What a blown opportunity!

Billy says:

on January 4, 2010 at 11:12 am

Oh my Christ………I just saw your biggest sin! LOL Happy New Year……I’ll keep my (many) sins to myself thank you!!!

Danie Nel says:

on January 4, 2010 at 11:14 am

I photographed one of our local PopIdol’s winners doing a swanky concert. I uploaded it to my site and tagged him as his opponent on PopIdols. Note my surprise when I get an email from the guy humbly mentioning that is in fact Brandon October, not Ezra. Hehe. Blush blush. What makes it worse: I sent him an email to go and see my porty, not knowing I had ‘his’ pic on there!

Ziv says:

on January 4, 2010 at 11:14 am

Happy New Year from the Very Reverend Eastburn.

Bingo and Bris every Wednesday!

Cloister Fluke All Faith Church
Bend, Oregon

Andy Colwell says:

on January 4, 2010 at 11:24 am

After jumping through twelve hoops to secure fast gear, credentials and transportation, I was able to photograph my high school’s first ever appearance at Pennsylvania’s PIAA Quad-A state championship football game, in the middle of that end-of-December nor’easter.
This is a photo-fail in two acts:

The first kicked off before we even departed, when I left the borrowed D3 and 24-70mm in my car in the parking lot, and had to convince the bus driver to slow down on the way out of the school, and let me run back and get it. Nice. Major “womp.”

Then, fast-forward to the game: Being not-as-familiar with the camera – I had been granted usage of it and a 300/2.8 by my photojourn prof the day before – I proceeded to shoot nearly all of the game on that camera with a 3-shot bracket, having changed it to such while fumbling under the weather cover (it’s not my gear, it belongs to Penn State, so I wasn’t taking chances…). I didn’t realize it until shooting a basketball game that night.
The D3’s top dial settings are laid out the same as my D300, with which I was also shooting, so while trying to change WB, I had held down BKT. Yeah that happened.
The only bright side? Even at ISO 4000, I was still able to get a good selection of pictures at 9fps…except only in bursts of three, and the “moments” that I was tasked to shoot weren’t framerate-reliant. At least it looked sorta neat while scrolling through Lightroom with good exposure–>underexposed–>overexposed, rinse-wash-repeat for some 900 frames. Not bad for my second football game ever…at least the prof didn’t laugh too much.

High five for good technology and the rookie failure to use it well : )

Lewis W says:

on January 4, 2010 at 11:30 am

“Ya know the preacher likes it cold.” I could see your breath. I was waiting to see if Bob still held a grudge. Happy New Year, Joe.

Eric Politzer says:

on January 4, 2010 at 11:33 am

OK, finally a topic on which I am an expert!!

Mortal sin: I am at my first Santa Fe Workshop with a not-to-be-named very colorful Irish Catholic New Yorker instructor. First day of location shoots at…the Scottish Rite Temple. The Pater Veritatis Photographicus had been preaching the virtues of team work. Our team goes out to set up in the courtyard. One of the team members says: “hey guys, I have this covered, you go do what you want.” Woohoo I think. So I grab the gorgeous model and escort her into the kitchen where there is a ridiculously cheesy cut out figure of a french chef. Of course I had to have her pose next to it, smooching it, etc. etc. etc. About to start shooting away when out of nowhere, with Spielbergian bluster, the above-mentioned instruction appears, face crimson red, smoke coming out of his ears, eyes popping through his glasses, fists clenched and growling something to the effect of: “What the F man? What part of team work do you not understand? I know team work, and this ain’t team work. There is no Chef Charles in team work. Now get your boeuf bourguignon butt back to your team!!!!” I shrink from 5’11 and 230 down to about the size of lens. I ask the model to run out and get me a family sized container of super-glue so I can start picking up the remains of my face off the floor and putting them back together. But all’s well that end’s well: 500 Hail McNallys later….

Sin of O-mission. I get my first fish eye lens but forget to read the user’s manual. We go on a trip to Greece and Turkey. I am taking all these pix of great cathedrals and mosques. But lo and behold I keep getting this severe circular vignetting in all the pictures. I check all the settings on the lens — and the camera!!! I go online to find some kind of conversion software. Nothing that works. Can’t figure out how to get rid of that dang vignetting. Then one day I pull the camera off the shelf by the lens and….. the Adapter Ring comes off!! Uh duh. I think to meself: I thought that was built on!!! Needless to say, flawless pix from that point on.

Vain-ial sin: in the midst of my first dream assignment with an internationally recognized musical institution. two hour dress rehearsal. flying solo, taking hundreds and hundreds of shots. the client approaches me and says: “I have an idea for a new marketing campaign. I want to do a ‘keeping you at the edge of your seats’ theme. If I get 3 of my staff to come down from the office could you take some shots with them”? Client is always right, huh? So they come down after the rehearsal and what do I do? Spend 30 minutes taking pix of their derrières in the seats in pretty much every position that has the slightest bit of “decency.” The whole time I am thinking: this is what my life has come to. Making a total ass of myself!!!

bobwyo says:

on January 4, 2010 at 11:35 am

Bought an expensive flash more than a year ago. Never used it. OK, that’s bad enough, but then in a need to do penance bought The Hot Shoe Diaries. Read it cover to cover. Haven’t used my flash yet. Bless me Joe, for I have wasted money. Please tell me there’s hope!

Francisco Monteiro says:

on January 4, 2010 at 11:43 am

That was wild. Such a start promises a 2010 even better than last year.
Happy new year to you Joe!

Darren Smith says:

on January 4, 2010 at 11:43 am

This is a killer story. It has winner written all over it!
I recently organised a trip with a mate of mine, whom I met for the first time on a photographic safari in the Masai Mara, Kenya (Oct 2008).
He was out on business visiting Cape Town, South Africa … and was keen to try his hand at some landscapes, Cape Town offering some stunning vistas.
I flew down to meet Richard, and we planned a sunset shoot at Blouberg, taking in *that* iconic view of Table Mountain ( or
We had a great day shooting at the Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden, and then drove out to Blouberg in good time for a sunset shoot.
The day had got progressively better, starting overcast and grey, and by the time the sunset had come around, the sky was blue, wispy clouds added texture … but there was a mean wind howling in from the sea. Gusting at 30-40 miles/hour.
Still, we were determined to get our pic … with my newly acquired Manfrotto tripod and 3-way head, in hand!
We even came across another photographer on the beach, hidden behind a dune for protection, and with his own tripod spread-eagled beautifully on the beach, as low as possible, and with the legs spread for stability.
But still … Father Bob, forgive me … we set up my brand-spanking new Manfrotto at full stretch (all 6 foot plus) … in a howling wind … in the middle of the beach … camera strap flapping around like the reigns on a mad bronco!
And then we shot, directly into the on-shore wind (spray and moisture rendering the lens useless in about 30 secs).
We had planned to do some HDR images, with multiple exposures … and get THE shot of Table Mountain. You know, blow every-one away with our skills!
Only people who were blown away, were Richard and I!
Eish. Too many lessons in that story to list!

BTW Joe, I am hoping that your Hot Shoe Diaries will save me any flash embarrassments, the likes of my Tripod Travails!

Andy Payton says:

on January 4, 2010 at 12:00 pm

My biggest sin?

A very recent sin – Boxing day last year (that’s 26th December 2009), my only job on that day was a yawn, yawn, local derby soccer match between Sittingbourne FC and their local rivals in the league, Chatham. Not great football and it was a 3.00pm kick-off, so I was stuck at home in case anything else came up until the afternoon.
I know that ground is very dark when the sun has gone, so instead of the company D300s I charged and packed both my D3s, lenses, monopod, cards, etc etc etc.
Set up at the ground, 300 + 1.4x on one body, left the other with a 70-200 attached, but didn’t use it. Cards in, formatted, set the camera on manual exposure, 1/640 at F4.5 with auto-ISO on, and shot away through the first half. Got the first half goal, celebration and left at half time fairly pleased…

…To find I had shot EVERYTHING on single shot AF….

Luckily, I shot so much, as usual, and my timing was decent enough, that I had plenty in sharp focus to keep everybody happy… But there is clearly a Photo-God, who sometimes smiles down on idiot snappers who don’t check EVERYTHING, even when they’ve had all bloody day to do so!

michalfanta says:

on January 4, 2010 at 12:06 pm

Wow! Your videos are always wonderful, but this one is perfect!
Thank you for sharing the wisdom.

Brad says:

on January 4, 2010 at 12:06 pm

I submit to you, my biggest photographic sin(s) of the decade, to which I don’t think Joe will disagree…


Carol Watkins says:

on January 4, 2010 at 12:12 pm

My biggest sin was when I was photographing the Haitian that were housed at Gitmo Cuba with fellow Navy photographer Mark Kettenhofen. I had was using a Leica for only about the second time and there was this little kid that stuck his face in Marks lens. Of course I had just ran out of film and so I hurried and
changed the film and took several shots I just knew were prize
winners. I was in such a hurry that the film did not get loaded
right and never wound onto the take up spoon. I will never forget the one that got away.

Bob DeChiara says:

on January 4, 2010 at 12:16 pm

So it has to be a sin about photography right? LOL.

Was this all done in one take? This is a Classic!!!


Vic Peek says:

on January 4, 2010 at 12:31 pm

Found my old Yashica Lynx 14E (Bought in Japan 1969)went out with my Grandaughter and shot two rolls of BW film. She could not understand why the images were not on the back of the camera. Took film to lab – processed – returned with neg’s. Scanned and then photoshopped several good images. My Grandaughter asked if that was how it was done in the “OLD” days.

Alton Marsh says:

on January 4, 2010 at 12:31 pm

Forgive me, for I have sinned. After I bought my new Nikon D300 I tried to study the manual. I really did. I even have personal notes written in it that I no longer understand. And then I turned my back on the manual and shot any way I wanted. I even shot out my rental car window into back lighting with no tripod. I am out of control.

John Knechtel says:

on January 4, 2010 at 12:36 pm

I’ve traded in my D2Xs for a Nikkormat and have gone back to film. I’ve even reopened the darkroom…. took 2 days to get rid of all the dust!

Jens says:

on January 4, 2010 at 12:53 pm

New bar opening down the street.

– Yeah, I’d really like to have some pictures to make a couple of business cards…
– I’d be glad to help! Anything to keep learning, not a problem!

The gentleman ended up publishing an ad on a regional newspaper, given that he liked the pictures so much.

I ended up with a free coffee, and a a new learning opportunity, indeed: SIGN A CONTRACT.

Happy New Year, Joe, and the rest of you folks!

Matt Staples says:

on January 4, 2010 at 12:57 pm

My biggest sin, amoung many, was when I landed a small job making a calander for my local pub.

I was happily engrossed in the shoot with two bowen’s, one tethered to my little canon 400D(there’s a sin or two right there)… I put my camera down to move the lighting, promptly pulling the camera off the table via it’s tether to crash onto the floor.

I gave it a quick once over, the pop up flash was dead, not an issue as I never ever use it, but an instant devaluation. I slapped my forehead, called myself an idiot and then got on with the job… only to walk too far away from the light I was tethered too, bringing it down with a crash and I could kiss goodbye to an umbrella.

I swore, I yelled, put the camera down, picked the light up and stood it back up… promptly yanking the camera back off the table and onto the floor AGAIN. The glass on the floor told me that this time I’d smashed my Sigma EX DG 2.8 28-70.

It was not a good day.

Kelly Heck says:

on January 4, 2010 at 12:58 pm

I was working for a small portrait studio a while back that focused mainly in sports photography. I packed all the gear and had some help from an assistant to load the car and we drove separately. It was a 35 or so minute drive around rush hour time, luckily we were not in any ridiculous traffic. We get there, set out some stuff like our displays and I’m about to line up my first group of kids (they couldn’t have been above 8 years old) and the camera won’t turn on… NO BATTERIES.

I checked the bags… NO BATTERIES.

I checked the spare camera… NO BATTERIES.

Shaking, I told my assistant to “get back to the shop as fast as you can and bring back a battery”. In the meantime, I approached the parents and calmly explained the problem, doing my best to make light of the situation.

Hungry people are short tempered.

In a huff and a puff, all of the teams’ parents grabbed their kids and went home unphotographed just in time for my assistant to show back up.

Camera batteries and AA’s are now plentiful.

alan wooden says:

on January 4, 2010 at 1:03 pm

my sin would be while shooting aerials of a contruction site at a local college by myself, which is a sin in it,s self, flying the plane with one hand and ripping film with the other can be quite challenging and exciting, my beloved d300 jumped in my hand scaring the you know what out of me. i had visions of my 18/200 mm vr flying out the open window. it turned out it was the lens hood had been sucked off the lens, only a $15 fix but i still have thoughts of it hitting some poor college student from 1’200 ft. above. fortunately i was over a river which runs beside the college and it caused no damage. always take your hood off before flight!


Chris Boyd says:

on January 4, 2010 at 1:04 pm

So I was shooting a wedding at an incredibly beautiful and prestigious golf course in my province of Canada. It turns out to be the biggest circus of a wedding I have ever seen. I think circus is a bit of an understatement actually. It was an outdoor wedding set up on a lawn with a drop off and a beautiful scenic backdrop. As the bride is walking down the isle people are leaving their lovely position white chairs and stepping out into the isle and some up around the front. One lady steps out right in front of me with her back into my lens. I drop my head and laugh a bit. move around her and try and get the shot i was setting up. So the bride reaches the front and people are still moving around, another lady in particular keeps going up and repositioning the groomsmen and the groom himself. whispering to them and brushing their tux jackets. So while all this is going on I am doing my best to do my job (at times keeping from laughing at it all). Unfortunately non of my assistants could make this wedding, which is fine I often do weddings by myself. So I was moving as little as possible, I mean I didn’t want to be distracting even if other people there didn’t mind being. So there is a nice place in the middle of the ceremony that is safe to go to the back and get some nice wides of the whole crowd, and some tele zoomed in of the couple. So during this time I move to the back and take these shots. I had laid my second body down on the ground with the telephoto on while I took my main body and my ultra wide (I mean ULTRA wide) for the whole shot. I move up a bit, away from my other camera and kneel to get a shot when what do my ears hear… the set up for the kiss… OH SH**. I desperately try and get my wide angle off and put my 24-105 L (from my pocket) on as I move up the isle to get the kiss. I was too slow, by the time I had my proper lens on, the kiss was all over. and I just got that smile afterwards. I can’t believe I missed THE KISS!
My sin… not keeping both bodies with me, and getting caught off guard.

The resolution… at another part of the ceremony where multiple people were up front moving around (as I said… circus… understatement) I also went p closer and whispered to the minister “can you get them to kiss again?” he chuckled a little and nodded. So this time I set up perfect and waited. He worked in another kiss and I got the shots I needed/wanted. Then afterwards I just moved the pictures to where the kiss was, and hoped no one was the wiser. (I guess thats arguably the second sin of the day)

All the same great couple and a bit of fun i guess….

Dušan Smolnikar says:

on January 4, 2010 at 1:15 pm

Haha, great video!

And here’s my confession …
Shooting an indoor concert, I was using a prime lens to help my shutter speed. When trying to capture the whole stage I was moving backwards, leaned on the wall, but accidentally leaned on the main light switch. Lit the whole room, didn’t even know right away it was me, so wondered what was going on. Thank god for one of the organisers nearby who knew what had happened and who turned the lights off quickly. Embarrassed, I moved back into my dark corner to continue shooting.

Ashley Pinner says:

on January 4, 2010 at 1:22 pm

Biggest sin? Hmm. My spare 8GB cards were not quite where I put them when I had to rush to the main stage to shoot the next event. I grabbed my usual 8GB card and the two 1GB cards as spares.

Suffice to say I shot through 8GB without problem. However, the 1GB cards were standard plain cards. Cue needing to wait ~10s between bursts for the buffer to flush, and thus missing enough shots to make me actually LEAVE the stage to search for the proper spares. I ended up missing far less shots than if I’d stuck with the 1GB cards.

The 1GB cards have been fired from the job!

Tim says:

on January 4, 2010 at 1:44 pm

I’ve had many a sin this year. The first is using a Canon 1D the entire year. I’ve felt very dirty because of it but is it truly a sin if that is the camera work gives you to use? Is it a sin if they make you do it?

Despite knowing the camera is old and has it’s limitations, I not once but twice decided I had to use the H setting (essentially 3200 ISO) to photograph bowling matches because they do not allow flash photography. Photographing action at 3200 ISO at 2.8 at 1/30th of a second. Though that sin is bad I sometimes pray to another deity named the Digital Ninja which often knows how to whip those images into usability for newspapers printing on Charmin.

I have tried to be good this year and doing so has helped me at times. I arrived to all my assignments earlier than scheduled but must admit twice unpacking my gear from the trunk of the car to realize I left the batteries charging at home. The photo-gods weren’t cruel and allowed me to rush home and back each time to catch the last bit of the assignment and save my bacon. I’ve prayed many Our Batteries Who Are in my Photobag for both those occasions.

Inexcusable I know, but I must confess that I’m just barely touching the surface. I was shooting a regional final football game and switched to a fresh memory card to catch the game ending reaction. I went gleefully through photographing crying and cheering kids and got back to the office to find the card unreadable. Before pulling out the trusty Photo Rescue to salvage the situation as I normally would I decided to let Windows check the card for errors. (Please don’t blaspheme me for not using Apple.) The card didn’t show any photos after “fixing it” using Windows and when I ran Photo Rescue it only found photos from weeks prior and nothing from that game. I still use the card without problems since that day tempting fate.

I feel dirty for admitting this, but I had to beg/borrow a battery from a fellow shooter from a competing paper at another football game because it went into overtime and my last battery churned it’s final frame in the freezing weather on the final play of the game in regulation time. That borrowed battery was a sinner too as it lied saying it was full power but made the camera grunt and grown through the final minutes of overtime play. I had to turn off the camera and turn it back on to convince the camera it had enough juice to take more photos for each play.

There is more. Oh so more. I have film cameras sitting on a shelf collecting dust all year long. Yes… film… the horror of admitting that and the weight it lets off of my soul is extraordinary. I confess I have film sitting in a container in the fridge waiting to be taken. It’s a joke… I’m cruelly teasing both the cameras and the film. I will never use them. I also have a light meter sitting in one of those bags begging to give a digital readout. They all just sit there unused.

Forgive me. I will do better this year. I will change my ways, if not my camera this year. My one saving grace is that I do pray to St. Strobist of Maryland by using a Nikon SB26 in my bag of Canon gear.

Manmeet says:

on January 4, 2010 at 1:49 pm

My first sin…I’m a Canon fan 😉
My second sin … I shot almost 150 pictures of my daughter’s 2nd birthday and being a lazybean that I’m , I forgot to download the images. The next day I was actually teaching my daughter how to handle a dslr camera, how to remove the battery and how to remove the cf card and so on….somewhere in between there was an emergency call for potty training and off to the bathroom…little did I know my daughter had carried the cf card as daddy’s momento and once the potty deed was done, needless to say, everything was flushed down the drain, including the card.
To this day I still shudder to think my card lying somewhere with all that poop….Lesson learnt…Always be around when your children are learning potty training

Jacob Murphy says:

on January 4, 2010 at 1:51 pm

my sin was superimposing a smiling face onto a different body! i was shooting a family portrait and the kid was being extremely difficult. he finally smiled for ONE picture. after all of the frustration trying to get him to smile (hitting myself in the head, making silly noises and tickling him) i’d say that i earned that sin.

keep up the great work, joe.

Jason says:

on January 4, 2010 at 2:03 pm

My biggest sin -I shoot Canon! That aside, my biggest mistake of the year was meting out the advice to always use a checklist, remember your batteries, clear your flash cards, etc. etc., etc.

The next day on the Scott Kelby photo walk, I realized my camera had no battery so wen the photo walk leader asked if there were any questions, I had to meekly raise my hand and ask “Any 20D/30D/40D/50D owners have a spare battery?”

Someone did, and I got some snaps off, but the day was a very humbling experience…I should follow my ow advice more often! :)

sue t. says:

on January 4, 2010 at 2:09 pm

It appears my biggest photographic sin is making the decision to try and make some $$ from my hobby.

Does that make me a photographer?
Or do I actually need to sell more than I spend before being considered a photographer?
Or is it the other way around … you’re truly a photographer when you spend more than you make and you’re still taking photos?

Chris Davis Cina says:

on January 4, 2010 at 2:14 pm

So nice to see I’m not alone as a sinner. Let’s see what was worse…Going to shoot a conference on Farmland Preservation and dropping the camera on the way in (thank God for the UV protection lens…which shattered and I couldn’t screw off but did preserve the Nikkor lens) and left me with no decent photos.
OR assisting at a wedding where my flash (SU800) just decided not to work. I had no back-up plan and got into such a state I made nothing but bad decisions. That pro will never call on me again.
OR showing up at DLWS with no power cord to my Mac, rendering me useless once again to download my pictures and follow all of the instruction.

This post is at least allowing me to realize that photographers are human and I really don’t need to give up just because I’ve sinned.

Bruce Elliott says:

on January 4, 2010 at 2:22 pm

I’ve made the same mistake a few times over a few years… but this last time the message has sunk in and I ALWAYS check my kit both before I leave home and again just before I start shooting now!

One of my kids, bless them, decided to pick up my cam early one morning and mess about with it. I didn’t realise until I was halfway through an outside portrait session shooting at max iso and fluorescant wb… fortunately managed to get the shots I needed in the second half of the shoot, but that feeling in your stomach when you realise you’ve stuffed up that badly is something I don’t want again in a hurry.

Not only do I check my kit carefully now, I also make sure I don’t leave it anywhere the kids can get at it!

Paul Glover says:

on January 4, 2010 at 2:30 pm

My second biggest photographic sin in 2009 was on a short vacation, shooting for most of a day in aperture priority with *spot* metering mode set. And not chimping at all because I was trying to both save battery and be a little too smart for my own good, so I didn’t catch on to the error of my ways for a while.

Got quite a surprise when I did review a shot and couldn’t figure out why it was about 4 stops overexposed. Somehow divinity intervened and most of the previous shots turned out well-enough exposed or were at least salvageable.

My biggest sin though is not shooting enough to have committed any other major transgressions!

Chris says:

on January 4, 2010 at 2:42 pm

This year I started really taking an interest in photography and I have done a lot of sins: I don’t fully know how to use my camera to it’s full ability…but I not only have a Canon 40D (which I guess is a sin to some Nikon users out there!) but I now have a Canon Elan IIe film camera…and I’m still learning to take shots, and film is a lot less forgiving then digital…can’t just delete it! I still don’t fully understand how shutter speed works with lighting, works with focus, and ISO…though I know they are all connected. I want to really start to understand these things, but I don’t ever want to forget how to have fun taking photos! I understand ISO and Aperture better then shutter speed…at least I usually remember to look at them, I frequently forget to look at shutter speed, which has really gotten me with film.

Rachel Shomsky says:

on January 4, 2010 at 3:07 pm

While assisting a friend and fellow photographer at a wedding, we were in the middle of a blizzard, worst storm of the winter and we were sliding in to the reception…

On the way there we had to stop to get batteries, it literally took 2 minutes on our route…

Because of the storm we were late by probably a good 10-15 minutes to keep from dying on the road. We missed the announcement of the couple. It was completely the storm’s fault. They came by to ask if we were ok. Could I just let it alone and let them know that the storm delayed us? no I confessed that we had to stop to get batteries… really?

It wasn’t even my gig. I felt like such a jerk…

Marc Lebryk says:

on January 4, 2010 at 3:13 pm

My greatest Photograhpic sin from 2009 was on a shoot that I had to do in Flint Michigan. I was scheduled to shoot video, while breaking in a newer shooter at a sporting event. Brilliantly I plugged in the batteries to the 5D Mark II i was supposed to shoot video with in my living room, as opposed to with all the other batteries in the office. Even set the camera down next to them so that I wouldn’t forget them. Sure enough 2 hours into the 5 hour drive, I realize: I left the camera at home. Not just the batteries, the whole damn camera. Scratch the video shoot for that event.

Then to make things better, I had a 1D Mark II that I was loaning the new shooter along with his other body, which I had to ask for back so I could at least shoot stills at the event. Turns out the 1D body had been dropped at a previous event by another shooter and I hadn’t been told. Only reason I knew was because the body wasn’t functioning properly so I had about 400 shots of the floor more than normal while walking around that day. I ended up shooting almost 3x as many shots that day than normal becuase of the broken element in the camera firing 2 and 3 shots simultaneously.

In the end it all worked out becuase the venue ended up being about 3 stops darker than what me and the newer shooter were used to, so I was able to show him how to use Speedlights to effectively light a sports environment. In terms of the overall forgetting an entire camera for a shoot?

I’m a Damn Idiot.

Malinda Hartong says:

on January 4, 2010 at 3:39 pm

OMG, that’s a scary scary video still. Glad Bob’s doing the audio slideshows and multimedia now. We had a nice chat about that a while back at one of his travel seminar gigs. Tell him the Cincy news photogs say HI!

Matt Hunt says:

on January 4, 2010 at 3:43 pm

Er…did a shoot and somepoint had knocked the WB button AND then must have been fiddling dials…so everything looked OK on the back of the camera and when I looked at the pictures at home…everything was VERY warm. Many hours later in CNX I finished processing the files. Live and learn not to fiddle

Jonathan T. says:

on January 4, 2010 at 3:49 pm

I was doing a group shot of the groomsmen at a wedding this summer. Not knowing everyone’s name, the easiest way to make sure the camera sees everyone’s face is to say, “If you can’t see the camera with both eyes, then it can’t see you.” It’s a habit. I say it all the time for group shots. Only this time, it momentarily slipped my mind that the groom (of all people) was a policeman recently injured in the line of duty and had lost an eye.

“Are you trying to get yourself arrested?,” on of the groomsmen (also an officer) asked.

Chuck Kimmerle says:

on January 4, 2010 at 3:51 pm

After rushing to an out of town assignment for a magazine shoot, I set up the lights, composed the scene and the subject, and spent the next half hour working with the setting sun. All the while I was chimping to be sure the histogram looked good and that I was getting the shot. After the shoot I packed up, thanked the subject and headed home feeling quite good about the shoot….

….until I got home (a three hour drive). When I attempted to download the photos, I discovered that neither of the two card slots on my D3 contained a card. I was horrified and sickened as there was little chance for a reshoot. I had pulled the digital equivalent of forgetting to load the film.

What I had failed to learn about the D3 (really, who reads manuals?) was that the factory default settings allowed the camera to expose frames without cards inserted, and allowed at least the most recent couple of those images to be chimpable, though not saved. It was some sort of demo mode. Who knew?

As the subject was leaving town a reshoot was not possible. Explaining what happened to the editor was, I thought, pain enough for penance, but in the end I lost all future contract possibilities. Can’t say I blame them.

Jon-Mark says:

on January 4, 2010 at 3:52 pm

Hadda couple fly me to England for my first ever far far away destination Wedding to shoot, only problem was when I got there, Customs dude wanted a work visa.
“Work visa? It’s a Canadian couple with a Canadian photographer visiting England for a few days and I need a work visa?”
“You’re takin’ work away from an English Photographer Pal”
“Oh…. hadn’t thought of it like that…”

Enter 2 days of hell, bag searches, eye scans, bad photos, finger scans, old school fingerprinting, and staying overnight in a holding place called Tinsley House with a buncha guys from Ghana who only seemed to know one english word: “Ipod!” as in, my ipod touch that I foolishly let see daylight while there. I shared a bunkroom with 5 other guys, sleeping on a cot that was about 3/4 as big as I am. I slept for 5 hours with the ipod clutched tight in my pansy ass whiteboy photographer hands.

Needless to say it wasn’t fun, flew 2 10 hour flights in a 40 hour period, one of ’em a redeye, and was sick to begin with, you don’t even wanna see what I looked like by the end of it. Worst part though, the couple had no photographer for their Wedding. I felt like a total ( pardon my french ) douchebag.

Lesson learned: Next time I get flown somewhere for photography work and they ask why I’m there? Lie.

Dave C. says:

on January 4, 2010 at 4:03 pm

Well, my biggest sin of 2009 was actually a team sin by myself and a co-worker. My day job is performing research for power utilities. In this particular case were were creating large power arcs and taking stills (2 dSLR’s) and high-speed video (three Casio EX-F1 cameras). The power arcs result in big fireballs many feet in diameter and spew out lots of molten metal… and we got one of the Casios a little too close. We managed to bake it, cover it in soot, and splatter it with molten copper and aluminum. Surprisingly it still worked after that… until we accidentally left it out overnight (on a superclamp fixed to a utility pole) and the back control dials died!! Maybe baking it again will revive it :)

Denise Duhamel says:

on January 4, 2010 at 4:06 pm

Let’s see … the biggest photographic blunder lately. Hmmm. Well, back in November I shot a wedding. I’ve done several weddings over the years, so I wasn’t too worried. Bride asked me to leave my car at the reception and arranged for transportation to pick me up there and take me to her mom’s home, where the bridal party was getting ready. She wanted me to ride with everyone in the hummer stretch limo to/from the church. Mistake number one was leaving the bag with the extra flash and batteries in my car because I didn’t think I’d need them until the reception. I was so wrong!!!
Thank goodness for the high ISO capabilities of my D300s. Switching back and forth between the two cameras allowed enough time for the flash to recyle in between shots.

Next blunder from later that evening at the reception … I had max’d out an 8 gb card on one camera and my spare cards were at the opposite end of the room safely tucked in my bag. Rather than miss the photo opportunity, I simply swapped cards from one camera to the other. BIG mistake. Got home later that night and started downloading the images. First card downloaded just fine. Second one though, came up with an error message that said files were corrupt! This was the card I had swapped between cameras (D300s and D200)and I think is what caused the corruption to the files. OMG – this was the card with THE wedding shots – you know – the whole church wedding ceremony and all the formals! I didn’t panic right away – after all if the FBI can recover files from just about anything, I ought to be able to find someone to help me recover the wedding images! Fortunately with the help of a recovery disk and lots and lots of patience, I was able to finally recover ALL of the images one by one. In retrospect, I probably should never have shared cf cards between two different camera bodies. I should have taken the extra minute to swap lenses on the cameras instead of swapping memory cards. Or, here’s a novel idea – I should have had the extra cards on me – not tucked away in the camera bag across the room! Did I mention the wedding was for a co-worker? For while I seriously thought I was going to have to quit my day job and relocate out of state! :-) Fortunately all ended well and the bride and groom are extremely pleased with the photos. It was a valuable lesson learned.

Marc says:

on January 4, 2010 at 4:15 pm

I’ve got one as many of us do hehe..

I’ve shot a full day for a large family and made hundreds of photos, and it was a great day for me, everything was going perfectly, the posing, lighting, the connection.

Once I got home, I invited the clients ( my former neighbors ) inside the house and why not look at a couple of the photos. I knew them well enough to explain that the unedited versions may look somewhat “less vibrant” in comparison with the edited versions.

I imported the photos automatically on my PC, in which I expected would go on to the external harddrive, later on I noticed them not sitting on that drive, but on my C:/ drive, ( still don’t know how lol ). They were still right here, sitting with me.. Here comes the dumba$$ part.

Stupidly I didn’t copy paste the photos onto the other harddrive ( I immediately had to reuse the card for photos that would be taken after the viewing so I formatted it.. OUCH! ) but I deleted them, ( yes… I hit ctrl+delete , I could cry at that moment of uber stupidity ).

SO! There I was, clients, me and my computer and no photos, not on the HDD and not on the memory card…. Feeling like a pathetic piece of dung, I started stressing out, started downloading recovery tools, and told them everything was fine and that I had to reimport the files…

The next day, after much stress, and little sleep, I saved alot of photos, but not all of them, luckily for me I saved enough of ’em to make it look like a CD of preselected photos…

I pray to never, ever be a nut again, and never ever, ever, forget backing up.

Good day guys!

Omi says:

on January 4, 2010 at 4:25 pm

Bob’s Irish accent it brilliant!! My gran would be getting her lip stick ready.

I haven’t been in the game long enough to do many paid jobs….actually only two weddings….but on my first wedding lugging around a flashy D700 and hoping it would compensate for my panic and lack of skill, I was placed in charge of the church shots. A dark English countryside church with no flash allowed is like a nightclub security guard demanding you produce a 1.4 prime or you get a beating round the back.

I set up at the back with strict instruction to use a monopod I’ve never seen in my life let alone set-up. The head just won’t go on in time….screw that so I do it with a twisted arm grip I learned from one Professor McNally. Grip is fine, legs are shaking, bride and dad walk into the church and I go for it…in Aperture mode. I have auto-iso set and no shutter speed lower than a 60th. With no time to chimp something is wrong, some shots are firing at said speed and others are locking the mirror like a star gazer. David Bowe I did not want to become.

The ceremony ends and the party is leaving the church for some air and chit chat outdoors. Its a summer’s day and I fire one after trying to capture the fast moving interactions. Things settle and now I can scan through. The range of exposures amongst the shots was like a stop motion video of day and night on fast forward. I think you know by now that I had fumbled my way into the bracket trap….grabbed by the balls and squeezing so tight, my face was surely showing evidence of this cock-up. I prayed for some genius computer-wiz to have devised the most amazing Photoshop plug-in by the time I reached home.

I’m happy to say that not all photos were killed in the making of this day, the remainder just suffered horrible dis-figurations.

joi says:

on January 4, 2010 at 4:26 pm

Longest, silliest, duh-est mistake ever:
Spending two years editing with the vivid setting clicked on in my desktop color settings..

I couldn’t understand why my camera was shooting so red.
I blamed the camera, blamed myself for being lazy and not custom balancing..

I ended up blaming my hubbie for changing the settings and not telling me, when I should have blamed myself for not color calibrating often enough..doh

Jase says:

on January 4, 2010 at 4:35 pm

pretty simple one but hiking up to a look out for sunset photos with a group of other photogs.
Lugging my tripod all the way and realising at the very top of this 20m lookout – whilst out of breath – that the bl**dy quick release plate is NOT on the bottom of the camera or on the tripod but rather back at home on my desk where i put explicitly so i didn’t forget it…

luckily not a paid gig :)

Nicholas Hebert says:

on January 4, 2010 at 4:56 pm

Hmm photographic sins, lets see… Forgetting to turn off bracketing and wonder why my exposures aren’t coming out right on a paid senior portrait shoot, leaving the lens cap on,accidentally formatting my camera card with a shoot i hadn’t yet backed up to the computer, aka lost all files and had to re shoot, not more batteries with me for my sb600 flash which died during shoot, same for camera batteries.

wow looking back I sure have made my fair share of blunders,but hey that’s how you learn right?

Thomas Sass Pedersen says:

on January 4, 2010 at 5:27 pm

The absolute biggest sin I’ve done the past year is, well, big. I have often chosen to leave home without my camera, left it standing with a large telelens on the floor without switching to something more useful and bring it along. And trust me, this has meant that I’ve lost some great ones the past year.
Among the smaller sins is the one where I forget to set the aperture correctly from the last exposure, not setting the ISO down from last photoshoot and stuff like that. But the mayor must be the leaving the camera at home.

Peter says:

on January 4, 2010 at 5:45 pm

My biggest mistake was made on a beautiful sunny day in Seattle. I had a very large high school football team to photograph. Brought in custom risers for the team to stand on,3 Speedotron packs for lighting. Camera gear was to die for. A Hasselblad 503CW with the 100mm and plenty of extra film backs, just in case. So we have a small team helping with this photo shoot. They setup the risers, I work on the lighting and cameras. I get all the camera gear ready, also using a D1 for backup. I load one film back, place it in my pocket. Then the team comes out, we find a few problems like I need to move everything back 10ft to fit them in, or move those heavy risers back 10ft. So I move my lights and ladder back between the chain link fence and the stands. Get the team set just so, go back climb the ladder and start grabing shots with the Hassy and the D1. Climb down and wonder what I have in my pocket! Why it’s the one film back I did load, so what did I load in my film back that’s on the camera? Nothing. Now believe or not the coach was ok with this mistake. Why? To quote him I did not even try and make an excuse for what I did. Did not blame someone else or wait and say the lab runied the film. Just took it like a man.He said he was the same quality he expects from his players. It was the best mistake I ever made.

PS the shots from the D1 in jpeg just did not have the quality to make good prints compared with the Hasselblad. This was a few years ago before Lighroom, Aperture, etc.

Mike Calaguas says:

on January 4, 2010 at 5:50 pm

Killed my SB800 while doing a group family shot on the beach with the sunset ad backdrop. Flash was on a lightstand with shoot-through umbrella. Wind picked up and dunked the flash right into a pool of saltwater…

Caroline Hilty says:

on January 4, 2010 at 6:18 pm

During the getting ready portion of the day.. the bride was about to slip into her dress and I looked around the room and noticed that the Mother of the bride only had her black slip on..Well so I thought. I made the announcement for everyone to get fully dressed because the bride would be putting her dress on and they would be in the background. I was directing my comment towards the Mom who which of course was already dressed. oops. I had to cover and say…Oh, I thought you would want all of your Jewls on before we started.

James Whitaker says:

on January 4, 2010 at 6:22 pm

#1 Lesson learned in 2009… Insure your camera gear.

I was staying in a cottage on Sand Lake (Ontario) for the weekend this past September with my family. I decided to take a little canoe trip around the lake with my wife. I took my D300 with attached 18-70mm DX and MD-10D grip and my 70-200mm f2.8 VR in hand. Just to be safe I put the camera in a small cooler (supposedly to keep it dry) and the 20-200mm in a drink cooler (round and about long enough for the lens).

After a 45 minute trip around the lake we started back across the lake. We were headed right into the wind, which had kicked up a 1-foot chop on the lake. It was tough to keep the canoe pointed directly into the wind and if we drifted off course the waves made the canoe very tippy. The inevitable happened and we went into the water a little over a half mile from shore. It was impossible to get the canoe righted and get back in (I tried but the canoe sank under me).

We floundered around, kicking towards shore with the canoe. The coolers kept the camera and lens from going stright to the bottom, but they were not as water proof as I had hoped.

After about 30 minutes of swiming for shore (and not getting very far) a kayaker spotted us from shore and paddled out. She towed the canoe to shore (making it easier for us to swim). Another 30 minutes of swimming got us within a few hundred feet of shore. A jet-skier showed up and he pulled us the last few hundred feet.

On-shore I drained the water from the (not-so-water-proof) coolers and tried to dry out the camera equipment. We dried ourselves out as well and got back into the canoe (because our cottage was still on the opposite side of the lake).

I dried it everything out as best as I could. Nothing had been submerged… Just splashed and damp. The D300 didn’t survive. The battery grip was fine and the 18-70mm DX seems no worse for wear (although it needed a good cleaning). The 70-200mm f2.8 VR developed condensation on the back side of the front element that didn’t go away. I sent it to Nikon Canada and, after $500 in repairs, is back in service.

I called my insurance broker but, without a separate rider for the camera equipment, I was out of luck.

I bought a D700 and 24-70 f2.8 to replace the D300. Along with a little more than $1000 in other gear, it’s all now fully insured for about $100 a year.

Don’t I feel dumb.

James Whitaker

Lou Wheeler says:

on January 4, 2010 at 6:46 pm

My worst photo sin so far? Other than not taking enough photos, of course? Heh… Well… this happened a few weeks ago…

I’m getting into small flash photography like crazy. Got a cheap Phoenix non-ttl flash, an oldschool Minolta Auto 118X non-ttl, and some cheapo Cactus v4 triggers. Well, I decided I needed more firepower than either of these flashes provide. With that in mind, I went to the local family-owned photo shop, and went for an old standby–the Vivitar 285.

Man, this thing is a beast! That’s my thought. Lots of light, decent recycle times, I can’t wait to bust this puppy out!

So I’m at a friend’s house with all my gear. Brand new (to me) flash, just got a light stand and shoot-through brolly, and we thought “Hey! Let’s do a photoshoot here in front of the house in downtown Sacramento!” Oh. I have to mention that we’re all pretty drunk at this point. Okay, so I bust out the gear, take some flash readings with my light meter, get my buddy to stand in as a test subject until everyone was ready. Got a few shots, and it starts raining lightly. Whoops.

So we decide to grab the stand/flash/brolly, and a slave flash for some extra fill/accent, and go behind the house to a covered parking structure, where I wanted to shoot in the first place. Same buddy as the test subject, fire off some meter readings, set up a backlight gelled full-cut CTB to color the blah wall, and step back a ways with my Canon 70-210 equipped. I’m zoomed in a bit, and I hear people start yelling before I squeeze the shutter.

Then it happens.

I see the light stand and brolly fall RIGHT in front of my buddy. Who just stands there. Not moving. And it crashes to the ground. I freak out, run up to the mess on the ground, worried that maybe I broke my triggers. Trigger is in two pieces. I see it’s just the battery cap that came off. Then I see the flash in the brolly.

Sans foot. The foot is snapped off, stuck in my trigger. My brand new (again, to me) flash that I really never even used aside from seeing how bright it was firing. I just spent $30 on powerful rechargeable batteries that week too. And now it’s gone. Three test frames, and it’s gone.

I was pissed (and drunk), so I picked it up, freaked out, and slammed it back down to the concrete floor. Probably a bad idea.

I later figured out (after the rage and booze started wearing off) that it still fired, and the sync port is still there. It still fired off the sync port, so I ordered a vivitar-proprietary cable that would plug into the minijack on my trigger. It showed up, along with the velcro wraps to strap it onto the umbrella shaft/mount (hehe), and fired it up… It still works, however it no longer fires a full charge… I have a feeling this was due to my rage-induced spiking it into the cement.

I’m an idiot for a few different things. Not having a sandbag on the stand (which I ordered with that cable. heh.), or just having someone hold it in case of wind. And slamming it back into the ground after I thought it was dead. I also kicked my tripod over, but luckily it didn’t break, and nothing was on it. Oh, and this is all after my buddy (same dude) knocked over my slave flash and cracked the casing. It still works fine. I would’ve it been the other way around though. New $100 flash wasted, basically.

And there you go. A really long story about me being a drunken idiot and losing my baby (the Vivitar). :/

Joshua Gilliland says:

on January 4, 2010 at 6:47 pm

worst photo sin of 2009…
Leaving all sources of power at home after traveling all day to go to a shoot i had promised to a friend. that only happens once, ill tell you that.

awesome video.

David Green says:

on January 4, 2010 at 7:27 pm

My biggest recent photographic sin was nearly frying myself for a shot.

I had booked a shoot with a model on the beach near Los Angeles, and decided this would be a good time to try my Alien Bees ringflash with the “Ghostbusters” setup invented by JBaz ( This involves dismantling a Paul C. Buff Vagabond remote power unit and reassembling it into a hydration backpack, so you are essentially carrying a 120V power supply on your back. You plug in your ABR-800 and – though you look like a real geek – you are now a self-contained mobile studio flash shooter.

So, I’m working with the model on the beach and she is frolicking (as models are supposed to) and she starts moving further and further into the water. Splashing, kicking, leaping… you know: frolicking.

I’m very cautiously following her, making sure to stay well beyond where the waves would lap at my feet (I think). Suddenly, BAM!, a rogue wave crashes into my knees, and (more out of stunned panic than the force of the water), I find myself lying on my back. In salt water. With a 120V AC power pack strapped to my back.

I don’t think a man my age has ever moved so quickly to roll over, remove a backpack, unplug a power cord, and fling the pack to dry land…. all while holding the camera (and attached ringflash) in the air and out of the water.

Though I’d never describe myself as having “catlike reflexes,” I surprised myself that day, keeping the camera, flash, backpack, and – most importantly – my body out of harm’s way. I moved so quickly, it was like I’d rehearsed it.

The model thought I looked pretty funny, though, giggling as she asked, “Are you OK?” I don’t she would have been laughing if I’d been electrocuted. Ya never know though, they are peculiar creatures sometimes.

I’ve learned that from now on, I will have an assistant when shooting in any situation that could be remotely considered dangerous, and also that salt water and voltage inverters need to be kept as far apart as humanly possible.

Randy says:

on January 4, 2010 at 7:40 pm

Sin of the year. I kept thinking that something was wrong with my brand new 2.8 lens while doing basketball shots. They were too dark and this lens was supposed to be the cats meow! At half time I realized I had my f/4 lens on which looks just like the new 2.8. I did manage to switch at half time but those missed shots were the best of the game.

Ted Dayton says:

on January 4, 2010 at 7:41 pm

…not a sin, exactly, but a serious fuck-up. I was shooting in the 6th floor furniture department in a department store in Dallas
in the late 70’s. This is on the weekend. Staff job. I had a huge A-frame ladder that I was pushing around for removing
light bulbs from the ceiling. Since I was shooting strobes, I have no idea why. Stupid, I guess. So I move the ladder, climb up, unscrew the bulb, climb down, move the ladder, climb up, etc. The ladder nearly reached the ceiling in some spots, probably 16 feet. Turns out it was tall enough
to reach one of the sprinklers. Broke it clean off. Water coming from the ceiling like a fire hose, the first 10 seconds or so
with the nastiest black crud you ever saw, hitting me square on the head and my shoulders. I looked like I had just struck oil. You never saw a 24-yr-old, 160 pound punk move sofas so fast. In a matter of a minute, the water is saturating the carpeting for a 30 foot radius. It’s running down the stairs, customers are running, salespeople are asking, ‘Duh, what happened?’ The fire department guys show up. Ho-hum. One of ’em finds a wooden-handled broom and breaks it over his knee, climbs my ladder, and pounds the splintered end of the broom handle into the gushing sprinkler with a small sledge hammer. Turns out this building was decades old and the sprinklers had never been used. Ever. Decades of black crud in the pipes. Just sitting in there, waiting for me. For decades.

Monday morning when I went to work was especially enjoyable…

Can I get something for this?

Ted in L.A.

Paulo Rodrigues says:

on January 4, 2010 at 7:54 pm

I took a load of photos with my Hasselblad but later realised I didn’t have film in either of the backs. Fortunately I took some polaroids as well so I had something to show for it.

Still its an improvement on loading the film back-to-front

Pieter Sienatra says:

on January 4, 2010 at 8:05 pm

My deadliest sin would be I tricked my wife to let me buy expensive photo gears. Whatever Joe McNally use, I always want it. Starting to buy a DSLR, instead of buying Nikon D80, I choose the more expensive D300, I said to her “this will help me get better pictures, so I can start my wedding photography business”. Then comes to lens, I choose Nikon 17-55mm/2.8, and 1 SB-800 with the promise “this is it, no more gear”. Then I saw Joe use 20 SB-800’s, and now I add another SB800 ( with the same magic words above). Then Joe use 70-200/2.8 VR, I said the magic words again, bammm! that beast in my bag now. Here comes the full frame D700, my magic words works again, trade the D300 for D700, oh! Also I need the 24-70/2.8 then,because the 17-55mm/2.8 only good on DX body, talk about double hits with 1 bullet.
Then Joe use SB-900, got to have it also, I did successfully, again with that magic words. Joe use Lexar cards, so do I. If Joe drink coke with a little drop of salt and pepper I might follow also. Poor my wife, I never buy her any expensive stuffs and she let me buy those thosand bucks items, I only remember me and my photography. Since now I have all my finest gears, it’s time to proof her with good pictures, and the business is start right now, bless you my beloved one.

Bill says:

on January 4, 2010 at 8:11 pm

Bravo !

Geeze ! I would never had guessed I’d enjoy a short video blog as much as a full length James Cameron film.

You’re getting mighty good there Joe.

Also, my hat’s off to Bob !


Deb says:

on January 4, 2010 at 8:24 pm

My worst sin happened at the beginning of the last decade after subcontracting to photograph a wedding at the Basilica in Denver for a mere $500 (a sin in itself even in the film days). The bride and groom planned to leave the ceremony in a limo (no bridal party) and en route to the reception would stop at an historic park for “bride/groom shots with the limo.” I followed the limo from the downtown church looping through the city for about 5 blocks before we got to a stop light on a back street. I glanced down to the right at my camera in the front seat for some reason. Out of the corner of my eye, I “saw” the limo start to move forward, so I let my foot off the brake before I glanced back up. BUMP! The limo HAD moved forward but stopped again before proceeding through the intersection. The engine in my van had moved my vehicle forward without my foot on the accelerator and bumped the back of the limo. The limo driver called the owner to meet us at the park. He met us and HE WAS HOT!

You see, he had just had the 1936(?) Rolls Royce antique limo restored just 2 weeks prior to the BUMP. My forward movement had barely pushed the bumper into the trunk area, but it “crushed” the just restored wood floor board underneath the limo.

My insurance paid $36,000 to have the limo restored after my accident. The limo owner sent me a letter apologizing for his behavior after he had received extremely great treatment from my insurance company.

This “sins” blog reminded me that I need to find the letter and frame it for posterity.

Rudy says:

on January 4, 2010 at 8:36 pm

I know of only one great sin my wife keeps reminding me of. MY PHOTOGRAPHY GEAR IS WORTH MORE THAN THE CAR I DRIVE. (is this a good sin??????)

Charles Carstensen says:

on January 4, 2010 at 9:05 pm

There I was on the South Rim of The Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park shooting with a 35 mm lens on the digital 35. I made a nice picture of a park ranger displaying his rock climbing gear. Done. Ready to leave and the ranger said, hey, they are climbing on the North Rim directly across this narrow canyon which is 2000 feet deep.

We looked and sure enough, two climbers were making their way up the vertical rock wall. He said: could you take a picture of them. Well, of course. However, the 35mm would not cut it. Soooo, I walked to the car, got out the longest beast I had. The Hasselblad 503CW film camera with a 150 mm was OK since I could crop as necessary. Cool, tripod, light meter and everything including the little film counter window registering 10 shots remaining. Fired off the 10 exposures, said “I’ll send you some prints.”

Upon returning home to unload the exposed film there was none. The really bad part was when I told Ranger Bob the pics did not come out. No, I could not bear to tell him why.

Now I feel better to go forward in 2010!

James Saxon says:

on January 4, 2010 at 9:15 pm

I am writing this because my wife, Carol, is too embarassed. While on a business trip my wife borrowed my D100 camera to use while see is site seeing. When she returns to the hotel she tells me she has some good news and some bad news. My first thought was did you wreck the rental car? No, I was using the camera and a bee landed on my wrist and stung me so I threw the camera out of my hand. The good news is only the battery door is broken and the camera still works. I asked why she threw the camera when she had already been stung. Reflex motion. $834.00 worth of “impact” damage to realign the sensors and clean the camera. Not to mention $75.00 to repair the zoom lens. This is all hers and not mine. The camera has since been retired at an early age.

Blueweedphoto says:

on January 4, 2010 at 9:17 pm

Biggest blunder of 2009 was mixing up my cards. I had 2 events that day, a wedding in the morning and a christening in the afternoon. After shooting the wedding(that ended at around lunch time) I removed my cf and placed it in my bag’s pocket and got the other card in the same pocket. I was talking to a friend at the time and did not noticed I got the same cf from the wedding. I went ahead and formatted it as a pet peeve. Went on to shoot the christening and when I got home I realized the disaster. I later called the bride and groom and said that my gear was stolen after the wedding. Hope Father Bob will forgive me. If he doesn’t, I hope he sends a D3s to hell with me. : )

Steve says:

on January 4, 2010 at 9:19 pm

I’m not sure I can top any of these stories, they make me cringe in sympathy (or is it empathy?).

My wife and I were in Australia for a once-in-a-lifetime vacation and in one day both my primary camera (a Canon – yes I know) and my backup camera (also a Canon – what did I expect?) died during our drive along the famous Great Ocean Road in Victoria. I was reduced to using my wife’s point and shoot (you guessed it) Canon until we could reach a ‘city’ (I think perhaps 5,000 people lived there) where there was one camera store. Needless to say, I did not buy a Canon, but the only Nikons they offered were point and shoots. So I bought the best one they had and salvaged photographically our vacation.

Christopher T. Murphy says:

on January 4, 2010 at 9:25 pm

While serving our great nation in the United States Air Force as a Still Photographic Specialist at Wilford Hall USAF Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas, I was processing 4×5 sheets of film that I had shot of pre-surgery breast photos. When my civilian supervisor saw the grossly underexposed film, he quizzed me about the loading of the film holders.

I explained to him I was taught in Tech School how to load the film with the cut notches on a particular side in the dark. He agreed with me and we scheduled a reshoot. I processed the reshoot film and the same ridiculously underexposed film resulted.

Bless me Joe, for I have sinned. I am LEFT HANDED (and therefore more Creative) and had loaded the film correctly for me, which is backwards for the rest of the world. I had exposed the film backwards in the old Calumet 4×5 and then processed the film normally!

Remember, once the patient has had surgery there is absolutely no chance for a retake! By the way, all of my autopsy stuff turned out fine. Dead clients don’t complain much, and the USAF Office of Special Investigations just wants the film to come out for evidence:)

Steve Holm says:

on January 4, 2010 at 9:33 pm

I was on assignment to shoot production shots of the assembly line at a large tractor manufacturer (think green). In my hurry out the door the morning of the shoot I forgot to grab my light meter which was not in the camera kit. The medium format camera I was shooting with had no working light meter so I quick called my wife, explained what to look for and waited for her to drop it by the plant while I pretended there was nothing wrong. Fortunately things got started slowly and she dropped it off at the front gate just in time. I received the package just as the shoot was about to start only to discover that the light meter she had brought me was in fact a small camcorder that came in a black case similar to my light meter. Oh, and did I mention I was shooting transparency. With me on the shoot was a video crew for another part of the project so delaying the shoot any longer wasn’t an option. I racked my brain trying to translate the Sunny 16 rule to work indoors with fluorescents and sodium vapors but didn’t have much luck with that. After sharing my secret with the videographer we came up with a plan to work off of his exposure and hope our ISO rating were close. In the end after a test roll at the lab the transparencies turned out and the job went to print with the client none the wiser. I now shoot digital and keep my meter in the camera case.

Rams Suren says:

on January 4, 2010 at 9:36 pm

When I was aged 7, I received some Christmas money and headed off to Hamleys to buy some toys. Now Hamleys is London’s most famous toy shop and you can spend hours just looking around and being entertained by staff showing off the latest gadgets and gizmos on one of the many floors. Anyway, we proceeded around the store and I found a telescope on offer for around £20. The picture showed a decent sized image of the moon and after ET I thought the moon was cool so I paid for it and went home. The next day after school, I went around my local area with the telescope and looked at buildings, adverts basically anything within sight. I was told not to look at the sun so I waited till nightfall hoping to catch the moon. I waited for a few days and lo and behold there was the moon. Now although the telescope was very basic, it did enlarge the moon so I was impressed and told all my school friends about it. After a couple of days of use, I left the telescope in the box and forgot about it. A few weeks later in class we were studying the planets and I was amazed by how different they were. I asked my science teacher whether I could see anything other than the moon with my telescope. She told me that unless I had a very expensive telescope, the answer was no. Now I love a challenge, so I thought I would find a planet (which are larger than than the moon – so it’s a piece of cake with my new £20 telescope). I scanned the sky that evening (being careful to stay away from the sun) and found nothing. I thought maybe I could find a planet In the evening so I waited till dark. After a few minutes I found a bright object with a line across it ! I thought this must be the planet with rings around it. I asked my parents where my camera was (after all I needed evidence for the teacher).
They asked me why and I explained. They then had a look through the telescope, looked again and then laughed. I got a bit angry and asked why they were laughing at my find.
They told me to put the camera away – I was looking at a telephone wire crossing the moon!

John A. says:

on January 4, 2010 at 9:47 pm

Bless me Joe for I have sinned… I shoot in .jpg ..a .and I do the occasional over saturated HDR

Love the video, made me smile on a crappy day. =)

Omar says:

on January 4, 2010 at 10:00 pm

My biggest sin was buying a D40 and believing myself that the camera was way more than I’d ever want so I’d never have to buy more stuff. Roughly 4,000 in cameras, lenses, accessories, computers and software later…

John Leonard says:

on January 4, 2010 at 10:20 pm

I had already logged about 8 hours of shooting on the wedding day with a miserable head cold in early October. The only real motivation keeping me going was I was getting to use my new D300s. I had received it the week before, but had not gotten to really play with it. No custom settings yet, no dialing in the focus on each of my lenses, heck I had barely figured out where all the buttons were over my D90. But the new toy was running sweet, and it had been tested by fire, so to speak, during the day.

I had shot a little video with my D90, and was really digging the fact that the D300s can autofocus while shooting video. It dawned on me to shoot some video of the couple thanking their parents to include on the DVD slide show. I snuck the couple out, started rolling the video, but the autofocus was really slow, so I just switched that little leaver on the front to M, cranked the focus ring and presto, sharply focused video. The only problem is I forgot to throw the focus back to S or C leaving my camera without the ability to focus. Now back to the part about not having any custom settings. The one thing I had found in the menu was allowing the camera to make a frame without being in focus. Yep, you guessed it I had turned that of during some burst shooting earlier the day before while playing. So I’m shooting at 10mm in a dark reception for the next hour, with off camera flash, with a head cold, tired, and come to find out I need to order some -1.0 diopters for the eye piece. So do you think I was able to tell in the viewfinder that people were let’s just say out of focus a bit? Heck no! Seriously, shot an entire hour and every frame except the luckily-at-the-same-distance-the-video-was-frames were blurry. Garter toss, keg stands (yes really), exit, driving away all blurry…..Thank God for second shooters….Punishment from God…the second shooter is my wife, and I will never hear the end of this nor did I that night on the hour drive home.

Frank Klimek says:

on January 4, 2010 at 10:20 pm

To keep it short, I rented a second body (5D MkII) and an 85mm f/1.2 to shoot my first wedding. The night before the wedding, I cranked the up ISO on the sum-bich to nuclear limits and took a few test shots. Impressive compared to my 50D’s, but still nasty.

Wedding day is here… guess where the ISO setting was for 75% of the day.*%$#!!!!!!

What I saw on my MacPro when I grew the balls to look the next day, made me sick. The key thing is that this, being my first wedding, was free(ish) just to get a little exposure. The groom was/is a somewhat famous radio guy and has connections out the wazoo. Lucky for me this was a small, hip wedding where most of the folks dressed like my folks did in my own childhood photos. I did a little tweaking in PS4, and ta-da, vintage black and white with lots of grain.

They loved it.

This was -and will be- my last wedding shoot. My heart just can’t take the stress…


Jay Rodriguez says:

on January 4, 2010 at 10:23 pm


Ranger 9 says:

on January 4, 2010 at 10:43 pm

Is spending the rest of your life as a photographer a harsher penance than spending the rest of your life as a photo-blogger?

Carroll Owens says:

on January 4, 2010 at 11:23 pm

Thirty four years and sixty eight days ago my wife gave birth to our youngest child, a beautiful daughter. Four years previously an equally handsome son had been born. When Nate arrived I was relegated to a waiting room. Things changed by the time Janis made her appearance. Now I had a command performance in the delivery room. With not much else to do, I asked if I might record the event photographically. Permission was granted and the old Spotmatic was put to use. The next day the exposed film was placed in what turned out to be the world’s flimsiest envelope. About a week later (since I had written a return address in the appropriate location) I received by return mail said envelope with a 35mm canister sized hole in it. Does anyone send film in the mail any more? If you do, put an address label on the can.

I still get a little sick to my stomach thinking about it.

Graham says:

on January 5, 2010 at 12:02 am

Probably setting off on a 200-mile drive and *eventually* realising that the reason there was so much space in my wee car was that I’d forgotten my camera – quite how I managed to overlook a 300 f/2.8 with a D300 hanging off the back I’m still not sure…..

almostinfamous says:

on January 5, 2010 at 12:04 am

I am not sure who is the sinner here, though i guess there is plenty of blame to go around.

Ok, so there i was shooting a charity walk to raise awareness about the disabled. I shot the whole event, waking up before sunrise to head to the location and shoot which is amazing dedication from a night-owl like me. got some amazing pictures in the early morning light and there was just a hint of mist on that day which added to the awesomeness of the morning. i huffed and puffed for over 2 hrs including the grip-and-grins which included some bigshots of our city (police comish, the district head etc) and some group shots at the end.

I then swap the nearly-full card out of the camera(but leave it in the bag) for another empty one and hand the whole set off to my colleague who has to shoot a separate event in the evening while i head out on a photowalk with some friends(shooting a film camera) and then a family dinner later in the day.

Then, during the event, as a gesture of goodwill to the photographer who hired him as a second shooter, my colleague hands out the 8GB card since that guy is having a bad hair day. what nobody realized was that the files that I shot that AM had not yet been copied to our hard drives. Needless to say, the files haven’t been recovered(they were overwritten with 40 Megapixel phase-one files) and neither has my reputation with the charity who asked me to shoot the event.

i think though, that the moral of the story is that the path of callousness is paved with good intentions. in fact, the good intentions seem to work extra hard to create hydroplaning.

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:

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… 😎

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

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 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: — specifically, the engagement video can be seen at

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.

Greg says:

on January 6, 2010 at 7:04 pm

Cold is it?

Linda Taylor says:

on January 6, 2010 at 8:29 pm

This year, I finally feel that I can join the (photographic) party. Last year, I read books, took classes and seminars this past year, including one of yours and experimented. My BIGGEST mistake was talking to my husband about equipment I was ‘thinking’ of purchasing. He is a very generous man, and before I knew it, I had very expensive lenses (whether I needed them or not) that came with cases, WITH extra cases, cables, etc., because the website recommended these accessories. He’s quite the shopper and took every recommendation of the seller. So now, I KEEP MY MOUTH SHUT and rent the equipment and accessories that I want to try out and buy them myself.

David says:

on January 6, 2010 at 9:42 pm

Bless me Father Bob and Joe; I have committed photographic sins, and I don’t plan to stop.

I work for a smallish market television station as a news photographer. No, that’s not the sin I’m confessing. I admit it, I’m a newsman. The television news industry is in a pretty good …. funk right now, and in order to make ends meet up in the accounting office, some things had to go. No more photogs, everyone is a multimedia journalist — a one man band. Joe, it’s difficult to run a video camera, get good audio, interview someone, frame the shot …. and always use a tripod.

I’m terrible–a careless photographer, a rotten one man band. I routinely shoot interviews and b-roll, wide shots, tight shots–I even get into the telephoto part of the lens–all without a tripod. People move when they’re being interviewed. Stuff in the field happens fast, and if I try to be both a good photographer and a mediocre (at best) reporter, I miss good shots with my camera strapped to a tripod.

Ugh, I’ve never admitted…. I could be fired or at least be up for a corrective interview. It happens to others quite often. Once they get written up in the ops report a couple times for shaky or crooked video, they end up in the boss’s office watching a dub of their sins.

I used to be a good photographer, but now as a M-M-J, one man banding all over the countryside, I’m forced to cut corners and become a sinner–but occasionally I get the shots I expect of myself.

So there you go. My sin is shooting video and putting it on the air, video that represents my TV station, often without a tripod. Please don’t pick me as a winner as I would have to show off my autographed copy of “Hotshoe” at work–and have some explaining to do.

Thanks for the blogging Joe,


Conrad Rowe says:

on January 7, 2010 at 12:19 am

You need to find a Job. A real job. You guys have to much time on your hands.

Gabriel says:

on January 7, 2010 at 1:09 am

Loved it. Hilarious. Thank ya again show for showin’ us poor sinnin’ photographers the way o’ it. I couldn’a do no better meself. :) I thought that perhaps there was a touch of Father Ted in the flavor of the film. Thanks again for your blog (and the books), I really appreciate and value your sharing what you know.


Kort Duce says:

on January 7, 2010 at 2:18 am

Last year on Dec. 9, 2009, I was involved in a big SNAFU.

I was shooting a marketing and advertising photography campaign in an undisclosed location in Wyoming when the main lodge caught on fire. Thankfully no one was hurt, but the other professional photographer and I lost 5 days of photography and our pride. The fire started in the chimney of the old rustic lodge less than 10-feet from our computer stations in the middle of the night.

A big lesson was learned. Never store your backup drive near your source drive. Never. No excuses. Period.

We had to re-shoot everything we had photographed in the previous five days. It sucked.

On top of all this, I shared a small cabin with my assistant so I stored all my camera gear (Nikon), studio equipment (Elinchrom) and computer equipment (Apple Mac Pro, 23″ Cinema Monitor, MacBook Pro, Lacie duplicator, printer, etc…) in that tinderbox.

At 4 a.m. the marketing director woke us up to tell us there was a problem. We were helpless as we watched the volunteer fire department fight the blaze.

I lost my pride and all my business equipment that allowed me to operate and earn money. Thankfully I am insured. My camera, computer and business equipment will be replaced.

Losing five days of photography for a client in a freak accident like this was not good. I was speechless as I watched 20-30 flames shoot out the windows. I had to borrow and rent equipment from friends to complete the job.

I will now sleep with my external backup drives on the road and at my home office will have at least 3 backups of my archive stored in at least 2 different locations. Two at the office and one set at a friends house. I would probably sleep with one set in bed, but my better half would not approve of that.

At any rate, good riddance to 2009 and many welcomes to 2010. Happy New Year!

Peter Caty says:

on January 7, 2010 at 10:48 am

I think I’ve done it all:

Shoot in broad daylight at ISO 1600, drop a hard drive chalk full of 250 gb of my photos (thankfully it was backed up), drop a lens out of a back pack, screw up developing film on a breaking news assignment, etc.

My worst one was this year. I’m a young photographer and the equipment lust got to me. You see, while I have used professional camera bodies before, I’ve never owned one. So I decided to get me a used Nikon D2H from Adorama, plus a 35mm f/1.8 DX to complete the ensemble.


I’m not here to knock Nikon because the body was made like a tank and the ergonomics of the camera were awesome, but alas, the image quality was stuck in 2003. ISO 400 looked like ISO 1600 on my 40D, and I’m not going to try and describe what ISO 1600 looked like (maybe it’s worse than ISO 100,000 or whatever on the D3s, ouch. I returned it of course.

I’ve learned not to succumb to the want of a pro camera just because it is a pro camera. Lesson learned.

Irene Jones says:

on January 7, 2010 at 11:48 am

Love the video! My husband (computer programmer, not a photographer) watched it with me and didn’t get half the jokes. I love it when I know something he doesn’t since that rarely happens. Very funny stuff. Also the comments on this blog made me feel great about myself! The worst thing I’ve done this year is forget to change the ISO back to 200 from 1600 when I went from a dark interior dressing room to a bright outdoor ceremony. Nothing a that couldn’t be fixed.

If I did have to list the worst thing I’ve ever done it would have to be not charging enough to shoot a wedding. I just graduated college and I didn’t think I could ask for what I was really worth. During this shoot I unloaded a roll of infrared film in daylight. I did it and immediately realized what I had done and tried to throw it in the light proof bag as fast as possible. Too late of course, the film looked with Swiss cheese after it was processed. I just turned to the client (after I took the film out), apologized for being an idiot and started over with a new roll. She wasn’t upset at first but a few weeks later she was mad, called me incompetent and demanded I return her deposit. I said “No.” She threatened legal action. I said, “You signed a contract, feel free to take it to a lawyer. You’ll pay him more then you paid me to hear him say you don’t have a case.” Keep in mind she didn’t loose anything because we reshot right after it happened. Lesson learned. Charge market value. The bargain basement customers will always be more of a hassle then they are worth!

Irene Jones says:

on January 7, 2010 at 11:50 am

Forgot to mention, my bad customer with the infrared film: that happened a decade ago. I think I’m doing pretty well since I have nothing else to confess since then. :) Thanks for your wonderful blog. Love what you do!

lisa says:

on January 7, 2010 at 2:09 pm

It’s so unfair that so few get so much talent!

SilberStudios says:

on January 7, 2010 at 6:27 pm

hilarious video Joe! I’ll make sure to pass it along to all the other “sinners”…

Miguel says:

on January 8, 2010 at 12:53 pm

Went to a event and decided to take the camera to make a few pictures.
I wanted to travel light and decided to remove the battery grip
(were i had the only battery for the camera)

I believe you all can guess want happened next.

Cesar says:

on January 9, 2010 at 12:00 pm


I have to confess that I´m a big sinner. Sometimes I left at home the most important piece of equipment you can put in your bag: Attitude. I get lazy and don´t light the subject the proper way, and try to fix it later in photoshop. Spending more time at the computer, with something I could have fixed in 5 minutes at “the moments it clicks” :-)

Now I have meet you, father bob and saint joe, You two are a wonderful people, you cheer me up. Folks keep that way

jonathan lim says:

on January 9, 2010 at 7:52 pm

there are quite a few amusing incidents for me this year..

1. forgot to leave dessicants in a new camera bag and ended up getting mould in one of my lenses due to shooting indoors and outdoors repetitively(condensation.. =( )

2. sat on a bunch of sd cards with abt 9gb of pics from an event shoot(meaning no retakes).. definitely had an unhappy boss..

Dave McLane says:

on January 9, 2010 at 8:00 pm

Last year’s major self-assigned project was to journey across the country interviewing and shooting photos of people in small towns to document how they were doing in these hard times. The last few weeks of getting ready was spent in outfitting a travel trailer, repacking the bearings, installed a new propane tank and other non-photo stuff.

Finally the journey began at the end of May at the Mexican border. Shot workers in the cantaloupe fields, interviewed their overseers, and headed north doing the same at small towns along the way. But what with getting into the swing of things, and getting used to the heat (105 F at midnight, no aircon), I didn’t dump my cards to my laptop as I usually do and at least have a look. By the time I did, I was 250 miles away and the stuff at the start didn’t look like anything. Had to go back, reshoot, return.

So stupid. From then on, now matter who tired I was, I always looked at what I had before moving on.

Dominik says:

on January 10, 2010 at 10:04 am

Dear Father Kirst

Long, long time ago, It was in the analog times, when I worked for newspapers: I had a lot to do this day. In the afternoon I printet some bw-pictures in the darkroom. At 5 p.m. I had I assignment. Because that took me only one hour I let the photochemistry in the open trays. I was really in a hurry, when I came back. I put the film in the shelf over the sink and prepared everthing for the film development: Chemistry, roll, tank and all the other stuff. I turned off the light and tried to take the film in the shelf. I touched the film with me fingertips I heard the sound of the filmroll falling in the open fixertray!

Edward says:

on January 10, 2010 at 9:54 pm

My first thought was, “Most times My just picking up a camera is probably the biggest sin of all, possibly a crime against Photography”. Then I asked myself, why that would be. Lots of blurry or soft images. Grainy High iso shots. Well, those can be fixed much of the time… I own a tripod. It’s not a Gitzo headed, Carbon fiber, do it all Photographers dream. But, It’s solid, heavy, the leg locks work well, and I own it. So my photography sin, at least one of the bigger ones, is neglect. Neglect of one of the most simple tools in Photography. The simple (heavy, awkward… stop it) sturdy Tripod.

Rachel Sandman says:

on January 10, 2010 at 10:34 pm

My biggest sin was not paying close enough attention to all the action at an event. I was photographing cubmobile racers coming down the ramp when the boy furthest from me started losing control. I was so busy watching him that I didn’t notice the boy closest to me also lost control and was headed straight for me! By the time I saw him, the only thing I could do was ditch the camera to keep from bashing him in the head with it. He ran me down, the camera still works, but I didn’t get the shot. Worked a wedding that night, too!

Craig says:

on January 11, 2010 at 6:26 pm

My most memorable sin happened over 35 years ago, and the memory haunts me to this day. I was a student at Southern Illinois Univiersity in the Spring of 1974, and had just landed a spot as a staff photographer for the university daily newspaper. The ’70s were filled with new stories of student protests, and there was lots of campus unrest. However, this story revolves around the undressed.

If you’re old enough to remember streaking, you’ll be able to relate to my story. For the youngsters though, streaking is the sport of taking off all of your clothes and then running naked through a crowd. (Actually, it’s still one of my favorite spectator sports.)

At the peak of the passtime in 1974, SIU was named as the streaking capitol of the US by WLS radio in Chicago. On this sunny, Friday afternoon, most students had decided that streaking (and streaker watching) was a better use of their time, so the quad was packed and the classrooms were empty. Myself and another photog immediately headed to the scene to cover the breaking news.

As soon as we arrived, a group of coeds decided to strip down and go frolicking in the pond. I immediately went to work capturing this new-worthy event with my second camera equipped with a 300mm lens. All went well (actually, I though it was going really well) until I noticed the frame counter was well past 40 frames. (If you remember streaking, you may also remember that the longest rolls of 35mm film only provided 36 exposures.)

Oops!(#@#%%@@!f*&*^*^^) A quick spin of the rewind knob confirmed my worst fear… in my enthusiastic quest to cover the uncovered news, I’d forgotten to put film in the camera.

Irjohn Junus says:

on January 13, 2010 at 3:53 am

Mine would be to having allowed myself mcnallized, I used to shoot only landscape with natural lights before I read THSD!

Dear Father Bob, may you consider to change Joe’s penance. Condemn him to swap his lighting kits with NDs…let there be less light…

james says:

on January 13, 2010 at 10:16 am

I started shooting in South Beach in the 90’s. I was a make-up artist and this particularly attractive women, had asked me to take some pictures of her, for her book. She came into studio looking fabulous and after hair and make-up, which I did, we began shooting. As usual after the second roll she started really loosening up and the shots were feeling good. This was before digital and back in those days you really didn’t know, until the trip to the lab. So I am loading the third roll and she says “Hey do you mind if we do some nudes?” I think I kept a straight face when I said, “well, I guess it would be ok”. So I start shooting while she slowly undresses. As she dropped her shirt I cranked the lever moving to the next frame, I noticed it was tight and I had run through another roll, but everything looked perfect and I just knew there was another frame on that roll! So I forced the lever, and low and behold, broke the lever on the camera (the only camera I had). Now that’s not my sin so much as acting like nothing had happened and continued to keep shooting. After what may have been 15 or 20 minutes she made a comment about how amazing my camera was, to have been able to have so many frames available in it, to not have to add another roll.

Christian says:

on January 13, 2010 at 1:09 pm

Dear father Bob and Joe: May I recomend this lovely church for your next confession:

Greetings !


David Wallk says:

on January 13, 2010 at 1:29 pm

I really enjoyed your video with Father Bob, I really appreciate it after having seen your videos on lighting and attending your seminar from Kelby Training and your books. Maybe your next video will be with Father Scott Kelby. I think unless you have seen your work and have photography knowledge can you really can’t enjoy it.

Dafydd Jones says:

on January 15, 2010 at 2:31 pm

This is an old sin along a well travelled path. It is a sin I have committed before this and after this and that I have full confidence I will commit it again someday. It was, I believe, the fall of 2005, and I had driven from home in Bucks County, Pa, to New Hampshire for the weekend. Peak fall colors had passed but there was still a lot of color lying around. I chose a shot looking into an inky black creek bottom way out in the woods with plenty of fall colors in the picture. I shoot large format so I worked hard to get everything right: don’t fall into the creek, keep my reflection out of the way, don’t tip the camera into the creek, etc. I finally got it set up, metered carefully, and fired. Immediately after shooting the second sheet, necessary in case I didn’t quite meter perfectly, I realized that I had, as is the practice with large format, opened the aperture all the way to focus but then had forgotten to stop down to the reading I had metered. Since I had chosen a relatively long exposure I had cooked the film good and proper (maybe 6 or 7 stops) and the only appropriate processing involved a trash can. I turned to my bag for another holder and discovered it was my last holder of color film. Since I was only there for the weekend my nearest replacement film was 360 miles away in Pennsylvania. I really really wanted that shot and thought about driving home the next day and then doing a one-day marathon to New Hampshire and back for my shot. Since the creek and leaves would be there every year I decided to wait through a year of repentance and then re-shoot. Two weeks later a confluence of rain storms flooded the area so badly that 8 miles of state highway were washed clean away in a neighboring town and my creek was scoured to its base. It’s now just another gravelly creek in the woods. So I believe I have already paid my penance for the sin of failing to stop down after focusing. For that time, anyway.

Daniel Solorio says:

on January 16, 2010 at 1:26 pm

Hi Joe;

This is a superb, totally hilarious post, i’m wondering what my grandma (Hardcore Catolic) would say about it.

My sin father Joe:

Last year i pursued to shoot full access in a flamenco gig, with an spanish guy “el pipa” here in my city, through some friends, i got to shoot a quick portrait and a class he gave in a local academy, and i got access to the main gig. Well i have two photo packs, so i moved the camera and what i may need to the small one plus, lightstand, umbrella and few speedlights. Right at the beginning of the show i found out that i forgot to bring CF Cards, lucklily i had a 4gb one used (erased some pictures), the show was so intense that i shot 2gb in raw in the first 30min or so, then 1gb in jpeg large fine, then 500mb jpeg large good, then 250mb jpeg medium fine, the rest in small medium, and 20 pictures or so with my iphone. What i hate most about it is that, i don’t know if the same happens to you but i always get the best pictures towards the end, and this turns to be also the smaller ones.

Thxs for sharing take care.


Gard Gitlestad says:

on January 16, 2010 at 5:58 pm

I have done many screw-ups of varying magnitudes, however few of them can compete with the really spectacular ones that you folks have come up with here.

However, there is one thing which I feel extra bad about. It’s not one of those classic mess-ups; everything went according to plan.

This happened when I brought one of my cameras to school to document a science project. No fancy gear, just a D40 with a 16-85 and an SB-800 on it (yeah, on-camera flash. That’s another sin right there). However, that was more than enough to impress my classmates. After answering “how much did it cost?” and “why is that thing pointing into the ceiling?” countless times, one guy wanted to try the camera. So I hand him the thing, and he holds it at arm’s length, point-and-shoot-style. I kind of regret what I’m doing as I wait for him to click the shutter.

Then it happens. He pulls the trigger. I hear the click of the shutter and the surprisingly loud pop of the flash, followed by a scream of agonizing pain, and a terrified “I can’t see! I can’t see!”

Anybody guessed what I did yet?

Yup, I had turned the flash 180 degrees around and dialed in full damn power. All of which was blasted right into the guy’s eyes.

He looked completely shocked the the next couple of hours. I felt a little cruel – but his dazed thousand-yard stare was completely priceless.

Henrik Delfer says:

on January 17, 2010 at 8:27 am

My biggest screw-up of 2009… there are so many, making it hard to choose, but I think this one takes the prize:

I had just invested in a nice (and expensive) light meter. Despite the fact that many say: “we need no stinkin incident light meters”, I had the opportunity to work with a friend, that absolutely nailed exposure in the most ridiculous of lighting setups, time and time again, using a light meter… so I thought getting one would be a great idea.

I used it for a while just measuring outdoor lighting for portraits and the like – and absolutely loved it.

One day – I decided I would test it out with flash. I work mostly with off camera flash, and being a Nikon kinda guy… I am still waiting for Pocketwizard to release the Nikon versions of their MiniTT1 and FlexTT5. Until then, I’ve been using an additional SB-900 to pre-trigger my remote flashes, and despite the limitations of distance and placement, it’s served me well.

I borrowed my daughters teddy-bear, set up a background on a table, mounted a SB-900 in a small softbox, and got all ready to try the metering out with flash.

Not using a sync cable, I picked a mode on the light meter, that makes it wait for the flash then do a measurement, and tell me what f-stop to use at any given shutter and ISO.

Walked over to the camera set the flash for 1/64 power, and shot a frame. Hmmm… had to pick ISO 1600, 1/60s and f:2.8, weird thing… exposure looked reasonably OK on the LCD, and camera was set at ISO 200, 1/125s, f:5.6. Dang – something was REALLY wrong.

I upped the power on the flash to 1/32, and got the very same measurement?? Again full release on the flash (1/1) I got the same measurement. Now that didn’t make any sense at all. Went outside with the flash on the camera and did a few test shots of various things, measurements were perfect and dead on, every time.

Went back inside, and still got ISO 1600, 1/60s and f:2.8. I did a reset to factory default in the camera as well as the light meter, switched out the flash for a different one, and another one again… removed it from the softbox, to do just ANYTHING to get anything other than ISO 1600, 1/60s and f:2.8, but to no avail. I packed up, and decided to take the light meter back to the store the following day. All finished packing up, hitting the kitchen for a cup of mocha. and it hit me…


That was what I had been measuring all the time with the off camera flash. The Preflash was enough to trigger the light metering as well, so I measured the light of the preflash, not my key light!

DANG I felt stupid. Had spend hours on this, and made SUCH a stupid mistake. To make matters worse… the teddy bear has never forgiven me, forcing him to sit for 2-3 hours on a white piece of seamless.

There are ways to go about solving this… but I don’t recall ever feeling SO stupid before!

With best regards

Henrik Delfer

Jack says:

on January 17, 2010 at 8:55 am

Well, sins, sins:

-I left the card full of pics in my pocket, then I’d put those jacket into the wasching machine.

-I let the motorbike fall on me while I was holding the camera (I took pics of those freestyle motoriders), and brand new 1D mkIII turned into… Well, two 1D’s 😀

-Oh, and last but not least, I USE CANON GEAR 😉

Alvin Kim says:

on January 17, 2010 at 6:25 pm

My sin and biggest regret is simple:

I didn’t take enough photos. My Flickr photostream suffered as a result. Mr. McNally, I’ve followed your blog for the past three years and absorbed it all. I’ve read all the Strobist posts. I’ve googled how to make DIY photo gear…. But the only thing I didn’t do was try things out for myself. I bet if I just tried to replicate one of your photos, I’d learn so much more than ONLY trying to read about it. And I never made any of that DIY crap either.

Practice. Practice.

I didn’t do it. So my resolution this year: be deliberate with the photos I take instead of snapping photos of nothing, try replicating my favorite photos, and get paid for my photos :-).

Omari Stephens says:

on January 17, 2010 at 8:55 pm

Howdy from Google, Joe and Drew.

My greatest sin was using (and continuing to use) a cheap lens strap a couple years ago. I rarely shoot with a neck strap, and so I found a nice, convenient detachable strap that would let me use a strap when I needed it, and shoot without that thing getting in the way when I didn’t.

I should have known something was up when it would sometimes detach a bit when I tugged on it. Of course, that wasn’t under normal conditions, right? And either way, it only happened while I was holding the camera.

Fast forward a few weeks. I borrowed a $1500 (at the time) 17-35/2.8 and stuck it on my body with my strobe on the hot-shoe as well. It was business as usual until I took my hands off the camera for a moment and the whole shebang hit the concrete floor, lens-first. Oh @#$%!

I thought to myself “it’s professional equipment, it can’t be that bad, can it?” Indeed, the glass was fine and I kept shooting a bit. Then I went to zoom and… @#$%, that’s not right. A week or so later, my organization took it to the repair shop, where it was deemed a total loss. We left it there for parts.

Lesson learned: pay attention to the warning signs, and don’t cheap out on the safety equipment.

Patrick Delany says:

on January 20, 2010 at 9:22 pm

So, okay, I know this is an old post. But, I know I am confident that I have something stupid enough confess to now. Tonight, I shot my town’s high school wrestling match. I’m in my second year doing this. First, I couldn’t figure out why the pictures were so dark. I thought the flash wasn’t firing so I took off the flash bracket and the SC-28, figuring there’s a problem there (after triple checking the connections). Didn’t work. Next I tried upping the ISO, slowing the shutter, and zeroing the EV on the flash, nothing. Then I realize I must have played with the camera EV setting last time and sure enough, -5.0 EV. So I dial it down to zero and tried again. Finally, an exposure that looked presentable in the LCD (I know, don’t judge from the LCD). So, I start merrily shooting away, but I notice varying exposure issues as the shooting continues. I keep trying to adjust the light metering from spot, to center weighted, to matrix, but the exposures still vary. I shoot the rest of the bout continually trying to play with settings. Finally match done, go home, download the pix. I start looking in View NX when it hits me like a soaking wet, cold towel in the face, I had left bracketed shots (5) on from the other day, while trying for some HDR exposures of a filtered sunset. Idiot! Now I get to look forward to lots of PP to try and save some shots for the kids. I hope I learn and don’t make that mistake twice. I’m glad food and the mortgage doesn’t depend my photog skills yet. Joe, you pros make it all look so easy, thanks for the continued inspiration.

Laurie-B says:

on January 28, 2010 at 6:01 pm

What a hoot!
Thanks for the laughs.

Nick McAlinden says:

on January 31, 2010 at 8:25 pm


A couple of years ago, I was working in the Whitsundays, Queensland Australia. A fantastic place to work and too many fun places to play!! It was State of Origin night, (The toughest game of Rugby League on the Planet between NSW and QLD) and I had a wedding to shoot the next day at 3pm on Daydream Island. Not a problem, I lived on the island so even if I had a fairly late night I could sleep in and still have a clear head for the shoot!!

Well, I ended up getting a ferry to the Mainland to watch it with some friends I hadn’t seen in a while. I was running late so I drove my car down and got a Rockstar Carpark right out the front of the venue which was good as I had all my camera gear locked in the boot of my car. I like to keep it close by and in sight!! Anyway I got my new D300 out to take a few shots in the bar and after about 30 minutes I put it back in my pelican case, locked in the boot of my car.

About 2 hours later we all went to another bar and to cut a long story short I had way to many beers and decide to go home. (Not to sure what time)

Anyway I woke up very shady at about 9 and went down to get my car parked, there it was just where I left it. So I opened my boot to get out the pelican case and put it in the car with me, and much to my dismay the case was open D300, 24-70 2.8 and SB-800 missing and the contents in a bit of disarray!!

If I wasn’t white already then I bet I looked ghost like then!!! I had another camera body, lenses and flash unit but was absolutely devastated!! The boot lock looked damaged so I went straight o the police station to report it.

After half an hour going through a lot of info with the local police I had to leave to catch a ferry out to the Island for my wedding. Just after I got in my car my phone rang, I answered it, was a friend who was a local DJ at the nightclub I was last at.

He says “Hey man would you like your camera back?” There must have been quite a pause as I processed this information cause he says “Are you there?” I said yeah, “how do you know it is missing?”

He says, “You left it with me at the DJ booth last night and didn’t pick it up, luckily my girlfriend is a photographer and said to take it home with me cause it was very expensive!!”

So i take a short drive, pick up my camera, lens and flash, thank my buddy and girlfriend and find this out;

1. Went to Dance Club.
2. Drank lots more
3. Met girls
4. Went to my car and got camera (Don’t remember this!!)
5. Took buckets of party photo’s on Dance Floor and in DJ booth.
6. Left camera with DJ to look after.
7. Forgot about it.
8. Went home.
9. Got up.
10. Got car.
11. Made False police report
12. Felt like an idiot!!

So I got the ferry, chastised myself a thousand times, showered changed charged batteries, downloaded my night of craziness and shot a great wedding!!

I learnt a valuable lesson that night, not to take my expensive camera gear that I use to make money so I can live out when I am drinking!!

At our work Christmas party later that year I received the award “For wasting police time”. I still have that laminated award on my wall as a healthy reminder.


body talk says:

on May 29, 2010 at 12:40 pm

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