The time I smashed a lens in front of a client…
…and more importantly what I learnt from it.
Back in 2015 I was filming a documentary style promotional video for a disability charity. My job was to capture the story of the hard working employees that make childrens lives better. We did this by shooting numerous interviews and we set up various scenarios as cutaways. A fairly standard shoot really.
At the time I was shooting all interviews on one Canon 6D DSLR. When setting up the for the first interview I noticed I had somehow forgotten my tripod. Not to worry. I always keep back up kit in the boot of the car. I brought out my second plastic £20 jessops tripod and fitted my Canon 6D and Tamron 24-70mm 2.8 lens. I continued lighting the scene. I glanced over my shoulder and the camera had slipped off the weak tripod plate and went hurtling to the floor. No one was anywhere near the camera. It wasn’t knocked, pushed or anything like that. I had just over loaded the weight capacity of the flimsy tripod (normally used to hold a small led panel or similar).
The lens hit filter first and instantly shattered. Rubber rings, random electrical circuits and glass went everywhere. Surprisingly the camera body which had become separated from the lens was completely fine. The front of the lens must have taken the full brunt of the force and saved the more expensive body.
Everyone looked on in horror. The producer, the client, the interviewee and surrounding participants all looked up at me with mouths wide open. I walked over in frustration, took a photo of the lens (which I can’t find) picked it up and chucked it in my bag. I took out a spare lens, slapped it back on the camera and continued as normal.
The producer was shocked at how calm I was. I could have quite easily lost my cool and shouted at myself for such a stupid mistake. But that would have only made things worse. I thought I’d get on with the job and deal with the lens later.
– Always carry spare kit. Not matter how big or small the job. If something like this were to ever happen again I always have a spare camera and lens within reach to continue the job.
– Never trust filmsy cheap kit. Pretty obvious but you get what you pay for. I should never have used the crappy tripod for anything other than a leaning post (even then it would probably give way). You’ll be glad to hear its in the bin.
– Be cool, calm and collected at all times. Nothing screams unprofessional and unconfident like a flapping crew member. This goes for all crew roles. Not just the camera department.
– Have insurance! Pretty obvious again but all professionals should have public liability and equipment insurance as a minimum.
I hope you enjoyed this blog post. Feel free to read my other posts such as: