Photography, Video Production

When things go wrong on a shoot

There’s a saying that failure is your best opportunity to learn.

But failure often sits uncomfortably for most of us. It’s either because we hold ourselves to such a high standard of quality that anything less than perfectionism deals a sharp blow or we are acutely aware that failure will reflect negatively on our brand… not to mention the deep sense of “letting someone down” feels hideous!

When we are entrusted to capture a photo shoot or video footage, especially when it’s event based, we often get one chance. But when our key tool is technology, malfunctioning camera bodies, lenses or memory cards can katapult us into crisis.

So what could possibly go wrong?



– On a shoot of a popular influencer, Leah had a memory card malfunction. Hours of photos – gone!

– James turned up to a wedding as a videographer to find a distraught photographer grappling with forgotten batteries . By sharing their batteries, they got through the event.

– Will overloaded himself with his camera gear and managed to break a whole flight of stairs, one terracotta step at a time.

– In his rush to pack up, Troy forgot the audio recorder plugged into the AV of a church two hours from home. He not only lost his audio but didn’t have the audio recorder for the wedding the next day.


– Anita’s leg snapped off her monopod at the beginning of a big wedding weekend (ironically in the week before Christmas) …

– Meg was moving house and misplaced a hard drive with her clients’ photos… before she’d sent it to her clients!

These are anecdotes that make for a great BBQ conversation and all have actually happened….no one is immune.

New or, experienced … videographers or photographers; new equipment or old – in fact some of these stories have been plucked directly from our podcast. We’ve even experienced some of the scenarios ourselves. So how do you plan for this mishaps? And most importantly how do you protect your brand and your customers?

Managing crisis control is as important as the shoot itself.



1.  Take extras!
Extra cameras not only provide multiple angles but also lighten the load if one camera ceases to work. Extra memory cards are imperative as they are the smallest and most prone to damage. Whatever you do… always check your pockets after a shoot and before you throw things in the washing machine!

2.  Pack your bags in advance.
Avoid the sinking feeling of finding you’ve left your batteries on chargers back at home! It’s worth having a methodical process to pack and check (and recheck) when you load your camera equipment into your car.
Insurance! It’s the boring but important lesson. Public liability insurance will protect your business if you or your equipment happens to damage someone else’s property while on a shoot.

3.  Have a good working relationship with other suppliers on the day.
They may just save you on the day when things don’t go to plan.  What’s your backup plan when all else fails? Batteries will die. Shutters will malfunction. If you need to, do you know where the closest camera stockist is? Can you borrow anything from other suppliers on the day? Can you put a call out to the community? If you ask, people are more than likely to help in a crisis. Don’t be too proud to put a call out. And if someone in the community goes out of their way, make sure you return their equipment expediently after the shoot concludes.

4. Make sure your client contract has a clause about technical malfunctions.
Don’t leave it to chance! Customers need to understand the course of action when technical difficulties occur.

5. Swallow your pride!
If things go wrong, and there’s no way to fix it … admit it to your clients. Try to find a solution first, but in the end, be honest and open with your customer. Sometimes unfortunately the only solution is to admit the issue and open up communications …. through a robust complaint handling process and enhanced communication with the customer along the process.

Failure due to mishap or malfunctioning technology is almost a certainty in our industry. It’s how you respond to the situation that will be critical to the impact on your brand. If you can have more equipment on hand, if you can have a backup plan and if you can be open and honest in your communications with your customer, then failure truly can be a way to learn while minimising any negative repercussions.