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Photography horror stories that will shake any photographer to their core

Horror stories in photography and modeling are like old fables. You’re captivated by them, you are left thinking about them once they’re finished, and you never truly expect them to happen to you.

But horror stories in photography, modeling, or on any set, carry an extra sense of frightful intrigue because they can indeed happen to anyone. Avoiding disastrous horror stories as a photographer requires extreme patience, attention to detail, and yes, also luck.

Being a photographer can be rewarding, but it also comes with its fair share of difficulties: difficult clients who can’t seem to explain what exactly they don’t like about your photos, furry or young subjects who can’t sit still, and inexperienced and difficult models.

Here are some photographers who shared their horror stories of photo shoots gone wrong.

A model horror story that will scare even the most fearless photographers

Photography horror stories can sometimes occur out of nowhere. Sometimes, well-meaning models can end up causing mistakes that can then cost thousands to correct.


Reddit user ZapGaffigan wrote:

“The subject [asked] if they could ‘help’ as I unloaded gear and [picked] up my backpack without asking…which was unzipped and my precious 70-200 F2.8 fell out onto the concrete taking a perfect shot on the mount end. Force a smile and say ‘no worry, they’re tough.’ Not that tough.”

Reddit user ZapGaffigan

ZapGaffigan didn’t write about how much damage was done to the lens, but hopefully, he and the model both learned a valuable lesson about how horror stories can occur from the smallest (and even well-intentioned) mistakes.

A landscape photography horror story where the photographer got more than they bargained for

Exploring and landscape photography go hand in hand. Sometimes you can come across some pretty startling scenes.


User mavric91 wrote:

“Recently went on a road trip to Utah… Long story short, we decided to explore down the road a little farther [and] found a downed motorcycle.

Its rider was suffering from extreme heat stroke and dehydration. He was foaming at the mouth, hardly breathing, and unresponsive. I did what I could, but he pretty much died in my arms.

I had to race about forty minutes out of the canyon to find enough service to call 911. So, after waiting 3 hours for every one to show up, fill out reports, and after a helicopter landed on our campsite, we had had enough. It was dark, the bugs were atrocious, and we were tired. We drove out and got a hotel. I never even took a single picture, not even on my phone.”

This story goes to show that photography horror stories can happen to anybody, and they can also happen at any time.

Not only was mavric91 not able to get his work done for the day, but they were shaken emotionally to their core by witnessing such a violent travesty. Stay safe out there fam.

Photo shoot horror stories take place at sporting events too

Most people are probably worried about rogue balls flying at them when shooting at sporting events.


User StupidTinyFatUnicorn’s photography horror story is still quite unexpected.

“[I was] shooting soccer with a 300mm f2.8, one hecking heavy lens. I set the monopod on my shoulder like this, I take a few steps. I heard a horrifying crack followed by the sound of a $6000 lens bouncing on the concrete. The lens ripped the metal mount off the camera and became stuck to the lens mount.”

Maybe it was just a sign shooting wasn’t in the cards for StupidTinyFatUnicorn that day, and also, that they should be more prepared for disaster next time.

A horror story that is frightening in any situation, photoshoot or not

Everyone knows not to mess with pregnant women. Photographers, and models also, certainly do. Still, sometimes there is nothing you can do.


User cl0ckw0rkheart describes their nightmare photography experience with a pregnant subject:

“I started out in a commercial portrait studio. More often than not, I worked alone. My boss was a raging alcoholic and felt like everything was OK as long as I made sales. Telling a customer no was out of the question. I was in college and needed a paying job.

I have so many stories, but a very pregnant, very emotional woman comes to mind. This woman took off her clothes for her maternity shoot and tried to use my muslin as some sort of flowy drape on her naked body.

She had this picture from Pinterest that 1. Had been taken outdoors around dawn/dusk. 2. Had been lightroomed to hell and back. I had to bleach the muslins. I hate Pinterest.”

Hopefully, cl0ckw0rkheart learned a valuable lesson. Namely, that there are some boundaries as a photographer that need to be set.

Photography horror stories come in all shapes and sizes

Photography horror stories can take place on a photo shoot. They can take place on a quiet road. Photography horror stories can even occur when a model tries to do the right thing.

The point is, while these stories are extremely captivating, they are also inherently real.

Hiccups and obstacles come up when you least expect them, and still it is your job as a photographer or worker on set to be prepared to roll with the punches.