Oh the humanity! My top 5 most embarrassing moments as a photographer.

by Kris Phillips

Ok, I’ll admit it. From the tattoos to torn jeans to pony purple hair, I do put a little effort into maintaining something of a cool chick persona. And for the most part I’m a pretty laid back person. But definitely not without my moments of complete fail. So here’s my top 5 most embarrassing moments as a photographer.

1. City Planning

When I first moved to Denver and was still getting to know the area along came one of my first sessions in the new city. I was so excited because it had been something of a rough transition. So I scouted out the perfect park, set a date, and waited eagerly. Then the morning of, I arrived with a whole list of shots swirling around in my head. A quick walk across the street and…a chain-link fence. In the two weeks since my scouting adventure the city had closed almost the entire park for reconstruction. At the time I didn’t know the area and had no ideas for a back up plan.  I froze for a moment and then tried to play it off. Not one to let a little change of plans kill the day we started to walk the perimeter of the fence until we came upon a few good spots. It wasn’t quite what I’d planned but got the job done just as well.

2. Frisbee to the Face

From time to time I get hired to photograph events. Several summers ago I was asked to shoot an arts festival which also had some really cool dog exhibitors, including Colorado Disc Dogs. Intent on getting the PERFECT SHOT, I knelt in the grass just beyond the boundary line. I stared intently through my viewfinder and caught lots of awesome doggy acrobatics. And then there was the disc that went a little too far. Little known fact, images in camera viewfinder are closer than they appear. So as the disc and the dog barreled toward me I thought, OMG this is going to be an AWESOME shot! Click, then, BAM, and I heard the whole crowd groan. Yup, disc hit me right in the camera/face. The dog agilely dove to the left, and I think he caught the disc on the rebound…off my face. Yes, it hurt, but honestly I’m not sure if it was the excitement about the perfect shot or the fact that a couple hundred people just groaned at my pain, I checked my camera lens then pretended like nothing happened. ‘Course it wasn’t until later I realized it wasn’t the perfect shot after all.

3. Dog to the Face.

Ok, this one actually happens every couple of months. One of my favorite shots to get for my clients in a head on, full speed, action shot. How I achieve this is by laying on the ground and having them throw the dogs favorite toy, usually a ball, right over the top of me. Bigger, older dogs are pretty good about running around me. But puppies, not so much. Last Fall I was working with a 9 month old pup, and she was so excited that she plowed right into me at full speed, not even an attempt to veer off. Her people kept asking, “Are you sure you’re ok?” I laughed, forced a smile, and said yeah, puppy collisions are all just part of the job. Then I went home and put ice on my black eye.

4. Frozen Cactus.

At the end of November I was photographing the most fun couple and their four dogs down in the Springs. We took a 2 hour hike early in the morning in 35 degree weather. The session was coming along beautifully right up until I knelt on a patch of dry grass, and felt the bitter sharp sting. I jumped back and looked at my knee, dozens of tiny spines stuck out though my jeans. I couldn’t decide whether to laugh or cry, here I was freezing my butt off and I just got stabbed by a desert plant. For the next several minutes I sat on the ground with my pant leg rolled up trying to pull the little buggers out as nonchalantly as possible. No big deal, just dozens of tiny needles. The worst part was it was the height of my busy season, so after that shoot, I had another client meeting, followed by another shoot. It was a solid 12 hours before I could get home and pull the tiny needles out with tweezers. Not sure if they knew what a big faker I was, but the photos came out amazing, so…WORTH IT!!!

5. Rolling Rock

I love to photograph dogs along Clear Creek in Golden. It’s truly a magical location that looks amazing almost any time of year. I can always see a look of concern on my clients face as I balance and contort just above the water in an effort to get the shot just right. On more than one occasion I’ve stepped back into the water unintentionally. No big deal, shoes and jeans dry. But during a shoot last summer I was squatting precariously on a couple small rocks in the stream, trying to avoid getting my boots wet. We finished the set and as I stood up the rock under one foot turned the tables on my poor foot, rolling not just out from under me, but somehow back on top of my ankle. I lost my footing, dropped one hand to catch my fall and my camera hand shot strait up to salvage my equipment. The creek was only a few inches deep, so while there was no danger, I saw the look of horrified concern on my client’s face. And there I paused trying to figure out how this tiny little rock hand managed to roll out from under my foot and over my ankle. I kept thinking, “I’m fine, this is fine.” As quickly as possible I regained my composure and painfully yanked my leg out of its pin. Then hobbled a few steps trying to pretend like it was all good.

If you’ve done a session with me you probably know that I don’t take myself too seriously. From the silly noises to the awkward contortions, I’ll do just about anything to get the best shot. It’s all part of the gig and I love every minute of it!

Bonus share: Here I am in Vegas getting bucked off an inflatable whale. Cocktails may or may not have been involved. 

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