Photographer Dawn Kish Gets Beat Up on the Job

Photo courtesy of Dawn Kish

Photo courtesy of Dawn Kish

You’ve seen photographer Dawn Kish’s work in our magazine. She’s a fantastically talented photographer, always willing (and ready) to do what it takes to get the shot. In this case, she may have gone a little too far. Find out what happened to her below:

Wow, those are some shiners! What happened?
I smashed my face with my camera in a big ol’ Grand Canyon rapid. I just got a new underwater housing for my camera and was so excited to shoot in the rapids. I was too busy trying to get the shot and didn’t hold on tight. We hit a big hole, and wham. I hit the cooler with my camera in front of my face. Ouch!

Have you ever been injured on the job before?
Not like this. I have never had a head injury before, either — I looked like an eggplant. I have dropped my camera on rocks, but it was just fine. I do know other photographers who have broken limbs to get the shot. I guess after 25 years of taking photos, I finally got hurt.

What would you do differently next time?
After I posted my battle wounds on Facebook, I didn’t realize that others had done the same thing. One photographer told me that it happened to him, and that when you have a waterproof housing around the camera, you must hold it away from your face when you’re shooting in rough water. I was too busy looking through the viewfinder and didn’t see the big hole in the rapids coming up. All of this trauma for the love of making photos. Next time, hold on and keep the camera away from the face. I got it!

So, what’s the reaction like around town?
Holy guacamole! I wish I had a video of the reactions. Some were worried, some were shocked, some thought I was tough and some thought I was dumb. It was funny, though; most people thought I still looked good. My boyfriend, John “Verm” Sherman, took a bunch of zombie photos of me. Those are fun shots. Everyone kept asking me whether it hurts. I tell them, “Not as much as my ego.”

What camera did you use to sustain your vertical face-plant?
I was shooting with a Nikon D7000 and a 12 mm to 24 mm lens. It still works great. Go Nikon!

You can see Dawn’s work in the August issue of Arizona Highways.

—Kathy Ritchie


Filed under Inside Scoop, Photography

46 responses to “Photographer Dawn Kish Gets Beat Up on the Job

  1. andrea

    ouch get well soon i know that hurts me just to think about you are a inspiration too us all

  2. Dang, that had to hurt! Glad those pearly whites are intact and glad her injuries weren’t any worse. Wow!

  3. That’s dedication, Dawn! I applaud your perseverance and your threashold for pain!

  4. Nice look but I am glad your OK. The river can be dangerous. Two years ago while shooting a lower Colorado rafting expedition for the Hualapi tribe I had my own raft with outboard motor and driver. After shooting all the other rafts going through the rapids my driver ask me if I would like to go backup river and come through the main rapid. We had been shooting from out of the main flow so I put away the cameras and we started a high speed run down the main tongue. Wrong!!!! We were both sitting in the back of the raft, unlike the evenly distributed weight of a tourist filled boat. When we hit the first wave the bow lifted vertically we achieve air and then did a fly swatter on the water. My 250 lbs frame snapped my seat, A 1 in ply wood blank directly in the middle and I continued butt first on to the metal flooring at warp speed. I was sure I had a compression fracture. The cut on my leg from the snapped board was only discover later. Advil and xrays prove I had escaped with only a severly sore back and ego for not thinking a raft with all the weight in back might not be stable.

  5. Michael Thompson

    I admire your tenacity! Anything to get “the shot”! I was once slugged by a biker while on assignment (no, I do not shoot “paparazzi) but, you look worse than I did! I discovered that applying frozen bags of corn on bruises helps without creating a mess. Get well soon!

  6. you look like a raccoon.. (a cute raccoon)

  7. Greg Rodgers

    Go, Dawn – Good to know the D7000 survived in tact – have abused mine and had to have the lens repaired twice – camera no damage. Too bad you couldn’t have waited to do this near Halloween – no makeup required 😉

  8. You should walk around with a GoPro helmet cam on your head so you can record the people’s responses

  9. Tell ’em it was a bar fight……and then say “but you should see the other person!”

  10. A true professional. Making sacrifices to get THE SHOT.

  11. I have had a few shiners while photographing MMA fights where the fighters hit the fence so hard they knock me back a few feet. The eye piece leaves a nasty mark for a few days. But I have to say she wins with those black eyes. Hope you get better soon.

  12. Pingback: PSA: Keep Your Camera Away From Your Face in Rough Waters

  13. Lynn Konowitz

    Wow! When I first saw your picture online, I thought the bruises were make-up until I read the caption. I agree with another post that you are lucky not to have lost teeth…or worse! I’d love to see the pictures from the shoot, though. I bet they were worth a little pain!

  14. D7000’s are built like tanks. I’ve had mine survive far more of a beating than they should have. Stay safe and take a break. And then get out there again! Also where are the photos… got to see what shot you got for those injuries.

  15. Small shallow pond shoot to begin training,(or bathtub). Then Lazy River @ 6 Flags, then Hurricane Harbor, then and finally the Perdenales River outside Austin. If u still want to shoot the rapids, please, have a seat, rest, and when that urge passes, have a beer to celebrate!

  16. swinginjonny

    Don’t we get to see any of the pictures?!?

  17. I had a head on with a German Shepherd (Dog), who was running full speed towards me after a ball.. I assumed she would pass by me at warp speed but no; it was like a furry train hit me. It was a hot, bright day but I was in a deep shadow so the creature must not have seen me. I had a black eye and the dog got stitches on her forehead. Amazingly, the camera and lens were fine but the lens filter and hood were cracked. Nikon D7000, 18-200 vr lens. No more assuming I am seen!

  18. Glad you are ok!!! Now lets see the pictures LOL 🙂

  19. Ouch!! Happens to the best of us. Take care and happy shooting!

  20. Looks like you were shot when you were getting ready for an Halloween theme party….. 🙂 Jokes apart, get well soon. Happy shooting.

  21. Jia

    Ouch, it really hurts.

  22. oh ouch! you must tell…. which rapid? We did the grand in June and each hole is burned into my mind – so curious which one was the culprit.

  23. Alysa S

    did you get the shot?? can we see???

  24. I can’t wait to see the shots!!

  25. Hmmm,,, A GoPro would have made a smaller bruise. 😉

  26. Ouch! Totally was thinking this was makeup at first. That had to hurtttt 😦

  27. Martine

    I’m more surprised no one is saying who whooped your ass or if your boyfriend was getting heat for possible domestic violence, I’m glad no one said it though and that you are okay

  28. One of the better shiners I’ve seen. Ever. Way to be dedicated to getting great photos.

  29. Bless you, I just usually trip and back into things. Feelbetter I know that has to hurt

  30. Pingback: Noticias breves de la semana (31) - ALTFoto

  31. Pingback: Ouch: Photography not all fun and games | The Mountains Are Calling

  32. Wow, I’m really feeling the love. Thank you everyone for your comments. If you would like more images of that trip, please check out my Face Book Page and my blog for more photos. Thank you.

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