backup cameras

Earlier this year I was photographing a wedding at Sunken Gardens in St. Pete. The guests were arriving, my camera case was sitting off to the side with all my gear in it and my handy, Speed Dial Master Lock (I love this thing). I was wandering around, snapping pictures of the string quartet, the flowers, etc.

Then, the ceremony was about to start. I took my position at the front of the aisle, raised my camera to check the exposure……. and nothing happened.

What the hell…” I thought. Quickly, I lowered my camera and checked my settings. Everything looked okay. I tried again…. nothing. I looked at the screen, instead of the normal numbers that appear for the aperture setting, it just had, “00.”

Now, my heart is racing. I quickly walked to the back of the ceremony area and caught the planner. “Hold the entrance, ” I said, “I’ve got a malfunction.” Then, I moved to my camera case, grabbed my backup camera and moved to the front of the aisle again, just in time to catch the first bridesmaid as she walked down. (the planner decided not to hold the line).

Lucky for me, I always carry a back-up camera.

Four years ago I was shooting a wedding at The Sand Pearl in Clearwater. While walking by the pool with the bride and groom, the buckle that held my camera to my strap slipped and my camera fell onto the hard pavers. I keep a filter on the front of my lens, partly as protection against just such an accident. The filter cracked and the lens ring bent. The lens was okay but the cracked filter couldn’t be removed. The lens was useless.

Lucky for me I carry several lenses.

Last year I was photographing a Bar Mitzvah at the Glazier Children’s Museum. When the family was making their entrance, I noticed that every other picture was dark. I quickly went to my case, checked the flash, checked the batteries, no change. I pulled the flash off my camera and replaced it with one of the other two I always carry.

Lucky for me I carry several flashes.

As a full-time working photographer, I can’t tell you how important it is that your wedding or event photographer carry back-up equipment. Yet, in all the consultations that I have done with clients over the years, not one has ever asked me about my equipment. It’s an important question. It’s not enough to carry back-up equipment, he needs to carry good back-up equipment. One of things that you are paying for when you hire a Certified Professional Photographer is reliability and peace of mind. You need assurances that they are prepared for emergencies. This is one of the reasons that good photographers cost more money: They invest in back-up equipment, liability insurance, equipment insurance, etc so that they can always get the job done. (It’s also one of the reasons that I am a member of the Tampa Area Photographers Association. If I were to break my arm the day before your wedding, one phone call would bring several pro photographers to my rescue. It’s never happened but the best insurance is the kind you never have to use..)

So, do your homework. Ask your photographer about his back-up equipment, insurance and emergency plan. A good pro will have equipment and plan in place and you’ll be able to rest easy knowing that you’re in good hands.

By the way, the camera malfunction was a lens that was not seated properly, the lens and the flash had to be sent back to Canon for repair. My back-up camera used to be my main camera. In fact, almost all the pictures you see on my website were shot with what is now my back-up camera.