How to Prevent Photo Horror Stories — 6 Scary Photo Scenarios & How to Get Through Them

Extra photos for bloggers: 1, 2, 3

As photographers, we plan and plan for big shoots.

But, we all have those days. The ones where that black cat that crossed our path, or we accidentally walked under a ladder.

Despite our best efforts, things can go wrong from time to time.

We’ll show you how to ward off those photoshoot nightmares. Our tips will prevent scary photo scenarios like garlic chases vampires away!

How to Prevent Photo Horror Stories

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No Memory Cards, No Problem

paint-smDear Photojojo,

I booked a photoshoot, and when I got there, I realized I had forgotten ALL of my memory cards! I apologized to the client and rescheduled, but I felt like such a dummy. How do I prevent this in the future?

Forgetful in Florida

Dear Forgetful,

This happens to the best of us. Here are some simple ways to keep track of your memory!

  • Make a checklist of all necessary equipment. Leave it by your keys the night before a shoot. Check it off in the morning before you leave.
  • Stash extra memory cards in common places. Leave one in your car, a hidden pocket in your camera bag, or in your wallet. That way you’ll always have a backup!
  • Shoot tethered to your laptop! By connecting the USB cable that comes with your camera to your laptop, images will be saved onto the computer instead of a memory card. This may limit mobility, but it will prevent you from disappointing your client.


Grain, Grain, Go Away!:

paint-sm Dear Photojojo,

I got home from a shoot only to realize I shot everything at 6400 ISO. The grain and noise is insane! What do I do?

Grim and Grainy

Dear Grim and Grainy,
Here are a few ways to enhance those grainy images.

  • You can use CameraRaw, Photoshop’s built in file converter for RAW files, to reduce noise in the image. The “filter” menu in Photoshop also has a noise reduction feature.
  • Other editing programs, such as iPhoto, Aperture, and Picassa have similar features or plug-ins you can install.
  • Only sharpen the parts of your photo that really need it. When you sharpen an image, it increases the contrast between the light and dark areas. Sharpening the whole image will increase the appearance of those noisy pixels all over. By selectively sharpening certain areas, you can minimize the grainy look.
  • You can also turn noisy color images into black and white. The grain gives it that good-old-fashioned-film feeling, and black and white takes away the distraction of colored pixels.

Keep your chin up!

White Balance Woes:

paint-smDear Photojojo,

All of my photos have a strange color cast. My indoor photos look orange, and outdoor ones look blue.

I’m guessing I have the wrong white balance settings? What is white balance anyway?

Is there anything I can do?
Blue in Longview

Dear Blue,

White Balance can be tricky, even for the most experienced photogs.

  • Your camera has settings to adjust for the temperature/color of light you are shooting in. Set your camera to the correct white balance while shooting, like daylight outside, and tungsten settings for indoors, to keep the color cast minimal.
  • Keep a gray card or a white balance lens cap in your camera bag for setting your white balance on location. A gray card is a neutral, 18% gray. Place the card in your scene for one shot, and remove it for your the next.
  • By doing this, you can set a custom white balance for each particular scene. Or use it when editing images on the computer later.
  • You can also correct white balance settings after the fact. With editing software like Photoshop, GIMP, or Adobe Lightroom, you can correct for a color cast.
  • If your image looks too blue, adding in yellow can help neutralize the tones. If it is too orange, adding a bit of cyan, green, and blue will make it look normal.

Yours truly,

Eyes Wide Shut:

paint-sm Dear Photojojo,

I photograph weddings. It never fails that during group photos, someone will blink or make a face.

Are there any tricks for getting people to keep their eyes open?

Eyes Closed in Minnesota

Dear Eyes Closed,

It’s definitely hard to get everyone to look perfect at the same moment.
Here are some tips:

  • Make sure your group shot is in a nice shady place facing away from the sun. It’s even harder for people to keep their eyes open when the sun is shining in them (obvi).
  • Here’s another trick. Use a tripod, and take A LOT of photos of the same group. Numbers can work in your favor. For groups smaller than 20, divide the number of people by three if there’s good light and two if the light’s bad. That’s how many shots you need to take. Then use editing software to swap heads if someone is blinking or making a funny face in the group photo.

Happy Shooting,

Constant Callers:

paint-sm Dear Photojojo,

I recently did a photoshoot for a friend, and now she’s calling me everyday to check on her photos. I want to stay friends with her, but her constant calls are driving me crazy!

How do I tell her that editing takes time?

Aggravated in Arizona

Dear Aggravated,

You are not alone in this situation. Try to stay positive, and remember she is just anxious to see your amazing work.

  • Remind your friend that you want to give her the best product you can, and in order to do so, you need at least a week or two.
  • If you plan to work with clients more frequently, put a section in your contract that explains the turnaround time. Let them know up front when they can expect to see the finished images.
  • Make a mini blog post on your site to give her a preview of those rad photos!
  • Email her or Instagram one pic a day until you get them all finished. She’ll be excited and check her email more than her texts.

Keep calm,

Cry Babies:

paint-sm Dear Photojojo,

With the Holidays coming up, I’ve started booking more sessions with kids and families.

How do I deal with children that won’t quit crying?

Cranky in Connecticut

Dear Cranky,

Dry those eyes,

Still Puzzled?:

  • Have other photo problems? Send us an email.
  • Share your photo horror story or your advice by tagging us @photojojo on Twitter and Facebook.
  • Send us a link to your favorite photo problem-solving forum!