Like most photographers working for National Geographic, we got pretty good at delivering more than 20,000 pictures to our editors every year. We (and our fellow shooters) also became highly skilled at delivering excuses. Those are the two things photographers are good at offering up—pictures and excuses. Unfortunately, editors are only interested in the former.
In an effort to make sure that you get the full benefit of our decades of experience, we have prepared a free list of professional excuses, most of which have been field tested by highly trained (and adept) pros. All are in good condition and are guaranteed to produce the same results as they did when they were first uttered. (A tip: An expression of complete sincerity and conviction is essential when delivering the excuses.)
You may want to print this list and carry it in your camera bag along with other essential gear so it will be readily available when needed. Better yet, memorize the list and then eat it to destroy the evidence.
Above all, NEVER take the blame (some would say responsibility) yourself. NEVER use “I” or “me” in the excuse—it’s the universe that is at fault. The efficacy of this approach is amply demonstrated by the king, the very epitome, of all excuses, one that is of great prevalence and utility in our culture at the moment. It is the exquisitely worded “Mistakes were made.” You see how it works? It’s not my fault. In fact, it is nobody’s fault. Mistakes just happen.
If, for some strange reason, “Mistakes were made” does not appease your editor/publisher/designer/wife/husband, then you might try one of the following for different circumstances:
For failure to deliver an aerial photo:
The pilot didn’t show up.
The pilot showed up but he was drunk.
The plane was stolen by a drug cartel.
We could not get the door off the plane and I knew you wouldn’t want blurry pictures taken through the window.
We got the door off but I dropped my camera when we were at 10,000 feet.
Rain/sleet/hail/snow/lightening/mechanical problems grounded the plane.
A seagull (if you’re near the coast) or eagle (if you’re in the mountains) flew into the propeller and the plane crashed. I’m lucky to be alive.
For failure to deliver a photo of a child:
She kicked me.
He bit me.
The mother was a nut case.
The kid threw up in my camera bag/threw my camera in the pond/threw a tantrum/wouldn’t stop picking his nose.
She didn’t show up.
For failure to deliver an entire set of wedding photos:
The service bureau lost them.
A bottle of champagne spilled on the hard drive.
The bride’s mother insisted on looking at every photo as soon as I’d made it.
The groom’s mother destroyed the hard drive because she thought my photos made her look fat.
The bride’s father destroyed the hard drive because he didn’t want his only daughter to marry that dolt.
The groom’s father destroyed the hard drive because he didn’t want his only son to marry that slut.
The maid of honor destroyed the hard drive because she absolutely hated the stupid dress she had to wear. (And she was no maid anyway.)
The best man destroyed the hard drive because I’d made a photo of his best friend and his girlfriend making out behind the gazebo.
For failure to deliver photos of the unusual mating rituals of just about any animal:
They didn't seem to like each other.
The animals got shy when they saw the camera.
What kind of photographer do you think I am anyway?
For failure to deliver a photo of a sunrise/sunset over a beautiful scenic spot:
The sun didn't rise/set that day.
There was an eclipse.
My wife/husband/mother/alarm clock forgot to wake me up.
The scene didn’t look all that beautiful to me.
For failure to deliver a photo of a spectacular winning goal/basket/touchdown/home run:
The lens YOU gave me wasn't fast enough.
The puck/ball/mother’s elbow hit the lens.
The guy with the trombone knocked the camera out of my hands.
The cheerleaders kept getting in the way. No, I HAD to stand near them.
Generic excuses for failure to deliver a photo of any kind:
My hard drive crashed.
There was a tornado/hurricane/tsunami/earthquake/wildfire/volcanic eruption/flood/drought/swarm of locusts.
The border crossing was closed.
She/he died before I got there.
Well in that town they celebrated/graduated/planted/harvested/danced/sang/voted/opened/closed a week early/late this year.
They canceled the game/wedding/festival/race/baptism/burial/concert/appearance.
The power went out.
The power surged and fried all my batteries, which happened to be charging at the time.
A burglar broke into my hotel room and stole all my gear.
The car wouldn’t start/had a flat tire/got stuck/was stolen.
I got hit by lightening.
Did I mention that my hard drive crashed?
If you’ve good a good excuse, send it in. We’ll publish the best of them in PixBoomBlog.
Actual Info ©2010 Robert Caputo and Cary Wolinsky
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