The Story

It was a day to be remembered – 15 March 2015. We were hired to provide our wedding photo booth service for a newlywed. Like always, we met up with the bride beforehand and got to note her specifics – a custom backdrop and a normal photobooth; nothing out of the blue.

On the day itself, the team, or rather, me and my wife, arrived at Conrad hotel (the wedding venue) two hours prior to set up the booth. Having just changed our photo booth system recently from using continuous lighting to a flash, we wanted to be there earlier to set up, as we definitely didn’t want to screw up a wedding.

Everything was set up as per normal, and everything was functioning well while we were doing our testing.  At 6pm sharp, we started our service. All was good, until….

our flash started to malfunction

In short, for some photos, the flash will go off and for some photos, the flash won’t. I was the one in charged of guiding the guests how to pose and position themselves that evening. Every time I snap a shot, I was keeping my fingers crossed every time for the flash to work – if it doesn’t, there wouldn’t be ample lighting, and the photos will be completely dark.

Instantly.sg Photo Booth Lousy

When the flash malfunctions, the photos taken were completely dark. In this photo, you can still see some dark shadows present.

Instantly.sg Photo Booth Lousy

When the flash is working fine, photo taken will be brightly lit and of better quality.

As the service has started, we needed a quick solution. We tried to hold off the queue by letting them know that we needed a 10-minutes break to find the cause, but to no avail; Guests were getting impatient and a queue was already forming. People around us were asking us when can they take their photos, why are we taking so long etc. It was chaos. Extremely stressful. Both of us broke out in cold sweat.

Needless to say, we were put on a spot. The guests were tired of waiting, and to make things worse, each time the flash wouldn’t go off, we had no choice but to hold the guests back to retake a few more shots.

“Why must take so many times?!”

“I thought already take? Still must take more? We want to go in already…”

Things were so bad when I finally had to make the call to completely forgo our usual system and go full rouge instead. And that is to

use our DSLR camera to take photos directly

For the next one hour, my wife took the DSLR camera, set it to auto-mode and started to take photos for the guests in front of our backdrop. Our plan was this. After the guests go inside the dining hall for the first march in, we will then obtain the photos out of the memory card and then get the photo printed.

All was good until the moment we wanted to get the photos printed…

There was no memory card in the camera!

All the photos captured were not stored at all!

Usually, for any DSLR camera, if a memory card was not inserted, there will be a warning on the screen. However, to be fair, it was my wife’s first time using a DSLR, and she was not aware of the warning sign.

We were so so screwed.

With no choice, we went and inform the bridesmaid of the disappointing news that we could not get any photos printed out. We apologised over and over again.

This whole incident haunted me through the night. There were so many mistakes made, and I had messed up so badly. I texted the client the very next day to explained the situation, and told her that no charges would be required. More apologies had ensued, and I personally visited the couple a week later to hand them their customised backdrop and any photos that we had managed to savaged before the flash malfunctioned. The couple was really understanding, and even handed me a red packet. But I was firm: I told them that we did wrong. I was accountable for my mistakes, and I would not accept any payment.

Surprisingly, the couple still recommended us a few businesses subsequently, and for that we were extremely thankful.

What went wrong?

We learnt our mistakes the hard way – but we managed to find the root of the problems

(1) We placed the wireless trigger for the flash too far away from the receiver. This caused the flash to be unresponsive. Our biggest mistake was overlooking the problem. A week before at another event, this problem was already happening a few times. However, seeing that it was malfunctioning only a few times, we thought it wasn’t a huge problem and just totally ignored it.

Lesson learnt: Never ignore any issue discovered during an event.

What we do now: After every event, the Lead staff on site will report to us any issues discovered during the event. Then, our Operations Manager must rectify it so that the issue will not be present in the next few events.

Instantly.sg Spare Equipment Bag

(2) We could have solved and prevented this whole episode if we had a spare wireless trigger with us.

Lesson learnt: Wireless equipment is not as stable as connecting wires.

What we do now: For all our setups henceforth, we connect each and every equipment with cable wires. We also made sure that at every event, we have a ‘spare’ bag with us, containing all the various wires, plugs and other essentials. In situations whereby a cable fail, we would be able to replace with a spare one immediately.

(3) Contingency plans are crucial

Lesson learnt: For all events and everything we do, it is important to have backup plans. Being over prepared is always better than under prepared.

What we do now: For each of our service, we always have a back up plan. Whenever we were hired for special events that required a different workflow from our usual, we will always hold a team meeting to discuss various contingencies plan before the event.

It took us one harsh reality check to learn our mistakes. From then on, we have only grown to be better prepared for all occasions – not only to fulfil our client’s requirements, but also uphold our end of the bargain

– Ewan –

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