Troubleshoot Your Camera on the Run

Have you ever been at a shoot and all of a sudden your camera does something unexpected? 

When we are right in the middle of shooting it can be extra stressful to try and trouble shoot, especially when our clients are watching us!

First, take a deep breath, it happens to all of us at one point or another. Try and think of simple things first. Is your battery charged? Is the memory card inserted properly? Is the lens clicked all the way into place? What mode is your dial turned to? 

Here are a few common scenarios that have all happened to me at a shoot. I try not to panic now, although in the beginning I was sweating bullets! Just remember your client has no idea what is happening to your camera, they don’t need to be alerted! Just say you need a moment to change your lens or insert a new memory card… walk away and start to trouble shoot. 

Shutter won’t fire: Check to be sure you are not on self-timer mode. Sometimes your camera gets left on a mode from another day or shoot, and it’s easy to forget. 

Blurry photos: Check your shutter speed, you may have it set for when you were shooting a still subject, and not you are chasing a running toddler.

Can’t adjust your Aperture: Check to be sure your dial did not get turned to Shutter Priority.

Can’t adjust your shutter speed: Be sure your dial did not get turned to Aperture Priority.

Your ISO keeps changing: You may have changed your ISO to Auto.

White or black photos (way under or over exposed): This can be caused by a combination of settings, but first check your ISO, and either take it up if they are black or lower it if they are white.

Camera won’t auto focus: Check the switch on your lens, be sure it is switched to AF not MF. Also, be sure your lens is attached properly and clicked into place.

Top or back screen has gone blank: Turn your camera to “off” then open your battery door, remove it, and then re-insert battery. 

Colored squares or lines on your view screen: Change to another SD card. 

It Has Happened to All of Us!

When you are out in the field and moving, bumping, and adjust your camera, it is easy for a dial or a switch to get bumped. I have also bumped my camera enough to cause the battery to shift and turn off my camera. I have needed to remove my lens, and then reinstall it. I have left my camera on timer mode, and could not figure out for the life of me what was going on! I have also switched my lens to Manual Focus for a tripod shot, and then forgot to switch it back, and took a whole series of out of focus shots!

Shoot Before Your Clients Come! 

My best advice is to take a few test shots at the beginning of any shoot and really zoom in on your view finder to be sure your images are in focus and sharp. Don’t panic, and always be sure to have your camera manual with you at all shoots, the best way to trouble shoot an error code is with your manual. It is also a good idea to have a photographer mentor or friend that you can call from a shoot if your having a problem that you can’t seem to fix. 

Have a Back Up!

A back up camera is always a good idea as well, even if it is your old body or a cheeper model of your main camera… an old camera is better than a broken camera! Also always bring more that one lens, and multiple SD cards.

Tammy Porter Arizona Children's Photographer