In my meeting last night with our two new staff members someone brought up the question of most embarrassing photo shoot moments. On the drive home I was choked up with bad memories at some of my worst.

1. Forgot the Camera Batteries at Home
When I was in college I was doing a photo shoot of a group of highly influential and successful female leaders. I had about 15 minutes to get the shot of the group so I showed up early to make sure I got everything set up perfectly and was testing the light before the group was ready for the photo shoot. I went to take a test shot before they arrived and realized that my camera was not working. I opened up the back of the camera to see that there was no batteries. I had left them in the charger in my room at home. As soon as I saw that, the group of females came down stairs and were ready to shoot. Thankfully I lived only 15 minutes away. I called someone and had them grab the camera batteries and bring them over to me while I spent an extra long time posing and reposing the group.

2. Messed Up Assignment
I was assigned to photograph gorgeous outdoor patios for a magazine spread (once again, I was in college and still fairly early into my photo journey). I arrived at this one backyard and didn’t see much exciting. I snapped a few photos – assumed that was all that was needed and turned the shots into the editor at the magazine in which I got yelled at pretty harshly for turning in such bad photos. I was immediately sent back out to redo the project – and learned about how to stage a set and make a picture versus take a picture.

3. Too Young To Be A Good Photographer
One of my first commercial jobs I was offered was to photograph residential homes for a builder so they could use for advertisements and marketing materials. The marketing person saw and loved my work and invited me out to do the photo shoot. However – when I arrived at their set of model homes and met the relator, they had zero interest in working with me and began interrogating me and said “you look too young to be a good photographer.” The project ended without me taking a single photo.

4. Ice Cream Failure
I was asked to shoot an editorial piece for a company in which the subject (an employee of the company) was asked to hold ice cream cones as part of the creative approach. Needless to say – no one ran the idea by the subject (until the day of the photo shoot) who thought it was a terrible idea. After two test shots he looked at the marketing person on set and said “we’re done” handed off the ice cream and that was it. At least I got to have one of the ice cream cones.

5. You Didn’t Want Those Photos Did You?
About three years ago I was doing a magazine photo shoot with an unnamed celebrity. The shoot went great and we photographed two really good outfits which I filled up a memory card. The shoot was about over when I suggested we do a third outfit just because we had time. The subject and art director agreed and we proceeded to do the third outfit which was being shot on a second memory card. After the shoot the art director and I grabbed a bite to eat and then went back to the studio for another project we had. As we got set up for the second shoot I did what I always do before a shoot and erase the memory card. As soon as I hit the button I realized what I had done and I turned white. The art director noticed and asked if anything was wrong. I responded “you didn’t really want those photos in the third outfit did you?” Thankfully we had actually completed the photo shoot in the first two outfits and the third outfit was really just a bonus.

6. Police Detainment
Seven or so years ago I was photographing an assignment of a building in Arizona. Unfortunately no one from the company I was hired by let the staff at the building know they were sending out a photographer. After a few cool shots of the building and landscape I headed back to my car and was promptly met by the local police department who detained me questioning why I was photographing this building, if I really was who I said I was, if I really worked for the company I said I was working for and so on. Once they found out that I never stepped off a public sidewalk to take the pictures (and that I was within my rights) they had to let me go – however that was after 45 minutes of sitting and waiting.

Now each of these experiences was quite embarrassing for me at the time – but from each experience I learned something that I was able to incorporate into my work and how I approach projects. I like to think that each of these made me a better photographer and a better business owner. Now I am curios as to what your most embarrassing moments are on set? Feel free to share in the comment section below.

James Patrick
IG @jpatrickphoto