The worst experience is easy – I had one of the early Canon digital cameras, that back then cost nearly $8000 and was photographing the huge waves in Hawaii. I had been using a long lens but wanted a different perspective, so I put the long lens and tripod far back on the beach and put the backpack on my back. I squatted down with a wide-angle lens, paying attention to where the waves usually stopped. A rouge wave came in and carried me out. I held the camera up, so it wouldn’t get ruined but realized I was trapped on my back in the sand because of the backpack. After a second wave washed over me and carried me farther out, I realized I was in serious trouble and put my hand (with the camera) down to try to flip over and stand up. Instead I realized I had just destroyed the camera and was being carried out farther.
Fortunately, my husband saw me and grabbed the backpack strap, which gave him something to hold onto, and dragged me to shore. The camera was a goner and I had sand in unspeakable places but at least I’m here to laugh about it now. The best experiences as a photographer were probably when I was an instructor for the North American Nature Photography Associations High School Scholarship program. Watching the students grow and develop their skills, and their excitement, passion and energy still brings a smile to my face.