I’m just wrapping up an assignment for Westpac Bank in Vanuatu and I thought I’d share a lesson that has traumatised me for life.
I ordered the latest Nikon D4 some time ago and it was supposed to arrive just before I left but it didn’t so, somewhat hesitantly, I set off on a five day assignment with just one camera (the D3) thinking the chances of anything going wrong with it were as remote as the location I was flying to.
In the film days, I always travelled with at least two cameras and, while I’d just bought a new, large format digital camera, it wasn’t necessary to take it on this shoot. I was delaying the upgrade of my 35mm equipment until the arrival of the D4.
So, I have just the one camera and, of course (he says now), within five frames of starting the shoot, an “error” sign started blinking in my viewfinder every time I pressed the button. Joy. I’m beside myself, playing with every variation of the settings and lens in a bid to make it work – with little success. My client, who was accompanying me, seemed very understanding at the time (though that was probably because I hadn’t explained that we were a frustrated throw away from aborting the shoot and, truth be told, I was pretending to take photos while my mind raced to divine a solution).
Remarkably, despite the camera’s mirror sticking frequently, it continued to take pictures – though the angst of the breakdown becoming permanent and me losing a corporate client in the process aged me a hundred years every time I drew the camera to my eye.
Yes, I knew I was taking a chance setting off with just one camera; yes, I could have rented a camera as a back-up; yes, I knew I’d be too far away to replace it if anything went wrong. But, I reasoned, I just needed it to work over the next five days which shouldn’t have been an issue given it had performed without hiccup over the past three years. All I needed was a few hundred frames from a camera that had delivered thousands of images. Really, what were the chances of anything going wrong…….
Anyway, I’m now back in my hotel room thankfully processing the pictures (sample below) which are looking pleasing to at least this anxious cameraman’s eyes.
The lesson: Always, always, always travel with a back-up.
Post script: I’m happy to report the client was delighted with the photographs. Phew…….never again.