No matter how much of a routine you have; batteries charged, memory cards empty, mic on, (lens cap off), there's always going to come a time when something fails, with varying degrees of disaster factor. I think the difference is in how you handle it. How do you handle it? There's always the fear that other photographers simply do not make these mistakes, the classic "schoolboy error". This is when the panic sets in and the internal dialogue goes something like this,
Are people going to see you for the fraud you really are?
Are you a fraud?
Oh God, you probably are.
Yet it's an inevitable part of the job. Certainly, the most rigorous checks I carry out now are a direct consequence of a silly oversight in the past. Like the time I tripped on my tripod whilst filming the only chance I had for catching a plane taking off in Niger. Or, again in Niger, when I forgot to drop the ISO back down once outside the darkness of the plane. That is, once I stepped out into the blinding Nigerien sun. I didn't even realise until I got back home and could see the grainy noise in all one thousand images I'd taken.
Yes, it was most definitely a schoolboy error. I should have realised something was wrong immediately (I was having to pump up the shutter speed something ridiculous). But I didn't and there was no turning back. I had photographs to produce and made the best of a bad job. In every other aspect, the images were satisfactory so I bit the bullet and got the job done.
And that's all it is, biting the bullet. Even the worst-case scenario of no working camera available can usually be overcome. Use your phone, borrow someone else's. It's not going to be the result you planned for (or didn't plan for!) but it's better than nothing. Once you've accepted your situation you can begin to act and given the fact that you're a working photographer, or anything else for that matter, you're capable of finding a solution.
Every so often I delve back into my photo archives to reminisce and, occasionally, dig out photos with fresh eyes. Here's one I took in Aquié, Niger in 2009 while working with the Spanish NGO Alas Solidarias.
Prompted by the sudden loss of Etran Finatawa founding member, Bagui Bouga, I thought I'd dust off some photos of the band in 2009.
To this day, people still talk about that concert and the video I took on the night doesn't stop shaking because there was no way of standing still.
Prompted by my colleagues, I managed to catch this girl with her incredible eyes moments before we were completely surrounded by excited children and she disappeared into the crowd
We're going quite far back to a video I made in 2009. Etran Finatawa are a Nigerien group composed of Tuareg and Wodaabe musicians - something that helps define their place in what is now a very popular genre, Desert Blues.
They've recently released a new album, "Sahara Sessions", which is definitely worth lending an ear to.
The songs on the following video are from their previous album "Desert Crossroads"
Alas Solidarias is a Spanish NGO of pilots who aimed to provide logistical support to other NGO operations in areas such as the Western Sahara, Niger, Morocco and Iraq.
I accompanied them on their first missions in order to document their work and provide publicity material for future work.
Alas Solidarias, a Spanish NGO of pilots, were flying into Niger on a reconnaissance mission and establish contact with a number of NGO's in the region.
I went along to document the trip and produce a half hour promotional video. The resulting three-part video can be viewed below.
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