Photography Nightmares – 9 Of The Worst!


Can You Imagine Any Real Life Photography Nightmares? The Thoughts Are Too Scary, Because We've All Had Them!

Don't tell me you've never been scared or panicked!?

For photographers, there come times when we've all had close encounters, near misses, and even skipped-heartbeat moments

But because they're real, the fear of them returning is just as much a nightmare in itself! There's no escape!?

Image by Thomas Budach

The nightmare may last just a few seconds to several days. Depending on what we are working on, what's happening at that moment, the severity may range from a little bit of humor at ourselves to downright fear and panic!

For some “trick or treat humor” during the Halloween season, we'll calm our bad dreams and perhaps realize that they're mostly that, bad dreams.

Read on for tips and reminders that will keep us howling along in our photography and avoid those nasty photography nightmares altogether.

My List Of Photography Nightmares….

Nightmare #1

Lost to the Point of No Return – Our heart rate will definitely elevate at the realization that our hard work of photos, catalogues and stored files have been lost.

For tips on local and cloud storage, I'm a huge believer in a two-pronged backup system.

  1. The first being two external hard drives that are stored at different locations.
  2. The second is cloud storage. Backblaze, the cloud-based solution, offering unlimited storage includes raw files for a nominal monthly fee. For more details see: How to Protect Your Work

Nightmare #2

Camera Meets the Chainsaw Massacre – This might be my husband's worst nightmare since he's the one who dropped my 1st camera. Good news is that we're still together.

I also learned that having insurance on your gear is a must to protect from theft or breakage. The Professional Photographers of America is a non-profit that offers many benefits to its' members including insurance!

This group is a huge advocate for photographers of all levels.

Nightmare #3

Walking Dead “Battery” – You're in the middle of a great shoot. It may be your kid's soccer game, a bird is cooperating by giving you multiple poses or those big fluffy clouds are glowing as the sun offers beautiful rosy hues.

Then it happens….the battery dies. Arrggh!

Instead of being in a position of screaming at the camera ghouls, develop a routine that includes charging your batteries after each shoot.

This includes your main battery and a backup battery too. In cold weather, store your spare inside your jacket versus near the cold weather.

Bitter cold can zap the life of a charged battery.

Nightmare #4

The Evil “Interrupter” – When photographers have our gear visible, we are prime targets for questions. I love answering questions, sharing photography tidbits with others with one exception.

That exception is when I'm concentrating in the middle of a shoot on limited time or with a flighty subject (referring to birds, not people here).

We become torn choosing between being nice and polite or working our subject. 8 Comments that Make a Photographer Crazy may resonate with a few of you!

Top Tip!

I've started to keep my photography business cards in my bag.
That way I can politely offer to answer their questions when we both have more time.

Nightmare #5

Gone, Baby, Gone – “I can't find my (insert your most frequently lost item). I know I put it in my camera bag…somewhere!”

If you're a one or two lens photographer, you may not be able to relate to this one. When our camera bags get filled, items get gobbled up in the little nooks and crannies.

In addition to our gear, there's:

  • lens cleaners,
  • filters,
  • batteries,
  • chargers,
  • remote cables,
  • computer cables,
  • rain sleeves,

The the list grows as our photography interests expand!

It can be a bit infuriating to reach for that needed filter or shutter release only to come up empty-handed!

Finding the right camera bag is both and art and a science. I remember the day of one small camera bag with 2 lenses. That lasted for about two months before I expanded to add lenses, filters, a second camera body.

With all of the camera bags out there, it's not a simple task to find the right one. Here's a great article with bag considerations if you're on the hunt.

Best Camera Bags for 2016 by Shotkit

Nightmare #6

Photographing a Real Witch – We've all had them. Be it the mother of the bride, the bride, a model, a local celebrity, the sports hero. A lot of our clients are a joy to work with.

Great images with people as our subject is a team effort. Every blue moon, we may get the one, rare piece of work client that is just never happy, no matter what. Some can be rude to just downright nasty.

These clients come and go and they are inevitable! However, just try and keep cool and professional because at the end of the day “work is work” and this photography nightmare is often rare.

We are reliant on word of mouth for positive feedback and referrals. Look for ways to enhance the client experience outside of just great images.

Top Tip!

It may be a handwritten note following the shoot or a few pieces of Lindt Chocolate thanking them for their business. They may enjoy being ‘spotlighted' in your studio or Facebook page.

Little touches make a difference and can separate your service from others!

For the nasty client, studies have shown a negative experience may be shared up to fifteen times after they've ridden away on their broomstick. Never lose sight of your professionalism – your reputation will stand the test of time.

Some resources on this subject.
5 Tips for Dealing with Demanding Clients
4 Essentials to Becoming Professional Photographer

Nightmare #7

Fright Night – this cult movie was about a teenage boy who's next door neighbor was a vampire, but no one believed him.

It's funny, quirky and a little scary too…

Our own Fright Night is when we see that great subject but couldn't make it happen the way our mind envisioned it. The camera doesn't believe us that this is supposed to be a “great” shot.

Nightmare #8

Wicked Weather that Fails to Fright – We set out to take advantage of stormy clouds, lightning, turbulent conditions and then it happens. Clear blue skies – ugh!

When the clouds and weather doesn't cooperate, the use of polarizer and neutral density filters can add depth, saturation and color to our images.

Just the opposite happens too. Last week we were supposed to have a brilliant fall harvest moon. Instead of seeing bold moon we were treated with heavy cloud cover and a bit of rain.

Take advantage of spontaneous moments to further tap in to your creative side. Dark, dreary weather conditions can look spectacular when processed using various black and white techniques.
Convert Your Images to Black and White Using These 4 Techniques
5 Things to Not Forget When Shooting for Black & White

Nightmare #9

The Designated Driver – Last in our list of photography nightmares, it's your turn to drive. You're on a steep, windy road with majestic views, fall colors and wildlife. The passengers keep saying with gusto…

“Look over here, let's stop there, check out the leading lines…”

You get the idea!

The bad news is that you can't look without putting yourself and others in harm's way. Remember, eyes must be on the road and you're in constant react mode as you have a carload of backseat drivers.

The solution for this nightmare? Keep Calm and Photograph On!


Photography nightmares happen to both the highly experienced pro and the beginner alike, albeit the newbie is likely to have a great deal more “nightmare situations” than the professional – but that's just largely down to experience and learning!

Most of these can be overcome or completely eliminated for good, just by being more prepared. Prepared for the unexpected and any troublesome scenario which might crop up!

Photographer's resilience you might call it?

What are your photography nightmares and how do you overcome them? Drop a spooky comment…

Photography Nightmares – Top Takeaways

  • Ensure your gear is protected (both insurance and in a sturdy bag)
  • Back up your work, and then some more!
  • Keep your gear organized! You don't wanna waste time searching for stuff, right at the last minute? Keep those stress levels down…
  • For those “witch” clients, ensuring you are calm, collected and direct

Further Resources

Further Learning

Perhaps you want to learn how to photograph the kids, more naturally?
Learn with this great course, so that when it comes to the holidays, you're prepared and ready for the action!

About Author

Sheen Watkins is a conservationist, wildlife photographer, instructor, author and photography writer. You can follow her photography on Facebook, Instagram and her website.

Sheen another great blog. I can certainly relate to many of the listed nightmare and sorry for distracting you while you were driving last weekend… Keep up the good work!

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