Let’s face it things go wrong in life. I may be committing some kind of unwritten photographers law here and admitting as such.
The difference between a complete unmitigated disaster and a minor and manageable hiccup is almost always down to experience and preparation. The experience to know when something is going to be a problem and stop it from happening and being prepared if, for example, there is an issue with a camera, a flash-gun or a memory card. You have to make sure there is always a spare readily available to quickly remedy the situation and to get on with the business of capturing events.
In fifteen years I’ve had a camera fail on me once, it is, if you invest in the best equipment and maintain it properly a very, very rare occurrence. However when it did happen as I picked-up the spare body from my bag and carried on with the job with no-one but myself knowing what was happening, I thought how precious that extra camera was and in that moment I would have given my last Rolo to have it.
I’ve heard many a tale of camera and photography disasters over the years. The most extreme I ever encountered was back in the Dark Room Ages, when film was the only option. I loved film, I think, I may have rose-tinted filters on but it has a ‘feel’ to it and an atmosphere all it’s own. Something I only now appreciate in the Digital Age. The magical experience of printing and that it seems lost forever, makes me go all misty-eyed just like the developer fluid used to. No Photo editing package has ever given me the sense of wonder that you get seeing an image suddenly appear under a red light, but I digress.
A friend of a friend of a friend’s second cousin twice removed was asked to photograph a wedding, because he had a half-decent camera. Reluctantly it has to be said and under pressure from family to save the couple a few quid, he finally agreed.
The Big Day arrived and at the end of it he felt pretty confident that a good job had been done. With just the formality of getting the films developed he arranged to meet the couple when they came back from Honeymoon and was even considering a move into wedding photography. What was all the fuss about?
Then the call came from the Printers to get down there right away there was a big problem.‘That sinking feeling’ just didn’t come close to describing it.
A few days earlier, just to brush-up on his photography a trip to the Zoo had been called for and a few rolls of film had been shot just to familiarise himself with the settings and to make sure there were no major issues with the camera. For one reason or another he just hadn’t got round to getting them printed but all seemed well and the wedding day was soon upon him.
Standing there looking at the wedding photographs, he wished he had got round to it.
Making sure he had more than enough film on the wedding day he had packed every roll into his bag, including the films exposed a few days earlier at the zoo.
Double exposure photography is a very tricky thing to do and unfortunately for him he seemed to have mastered it. Two images combined on a single frame can make for a fantastic final image but not if the two scenes which you combine are a wedding and a zoo full of animals.
After much soul searching and heavy drinking he decided to come clean and show the images to the Bride and Groom.
They took it well, Monkey’s at the Church, a Lion parading over the Wedding Breakfast, even Giraffes at the first dance. It was only when they got to the photo of themselves, arms around each other, having that first kiss, being sneered at by a squawking Blue-Fronted Amazonian parrot, that tears could be seen and a faint sobbing could be heard.