PSA: Keep Your Camera Away From Your Face in Rough Waters

Dawn Kish gets hit in a Grand Canyon Rapid

Here’s a helpful safety tip for shooting action shots in or around water: if you’re using your camera in a rough-and-tumbly environment, do your best to keep it at a safe distance from your face. If you don’t, your face could end up looking like the one above.

The woman in the shot is Dawn Kish, an adventure photographer based in Flagstaff, Arizona.

Kish tells us that she recently purchased an Outex waterproof housing for her DSLR — a soft, affordable housing that’s an alternative to the pricey, big box ones on the market.

Shortly afterward, Kish went on an adventure on the Grand Canyon’s rapids. She has worked as a guide on the rapids for 10 years, but had never been able to shoot due to her hands being occupied by oars.


Finally a passenger, Kish was able to focus on capturing the trip with her DSLR and Outex.


Disaster (at least for her face) struck when their raft hit a large rapid. Kish says she wasn’t holding on with both hands, since her right hand was holding the camera up to her face.


“We hit a big hole and WHAM,” she tells us. “I hit the cooler with my camera in front of my face and got the biggest goose egg on my forehead.” It wasn’t just a bump either — her face quickly developed a pattern reminiscent of a raccoon, as seen in the photo at the top of this post.

After sharing the photo on her Facebook page, Kish began hearing from other photographers who had the exact same thing happen to them.

“All this trauma for the love of making photos,” she says. “Next time, hold on and keep the camera away from the face, not unless you want to end up looking like a zombie. ”

(via Arizona Highways via Reddit)

Image credits: Photographs by Dawn Kish and used with permission

  • Michael Palmer


  • Robert Mark

    I think she looks like a superhero, not a raccoon.

  • Trausti Hraunfjord

    Google glass would have saved her getting these 15 minutes of fame and 15 days of looking like the victim of domestic violence.

  • Joey Duncan

    This looks more like a case of “you’re doing it wrong” to have gotten that far.

  • Ralph Hightower

    Maybe Canon and Nikon should equip their cameras with air bags.

  • Matthew Neumann

    Did she…..keep doing it? Over and over?

  • The Anti-Cannon

    not sure why this is even getting any mention- frankly only an idiot would hold a heavy object to their face whilst on rapids and she should know better, if her so-called 10 years experience is true: rapids are on a whole somewhat a random ride that differs each time (it’s not a freaking gondola ride…)…it’s not like she was “required” to use such a bulky item either o_O things like gopro’s and even micro 4/3rd cameras (although bigger most provide good quality, water proof housing etc) are better suited for action shoots as they are smaller in size, lighter…

    I’m not sure if I would go so far as to say I have no sympathy, I just query how much brain she had before the rapids. Either that or she enjoys self-abusing herself or something…(such an obvious outcome…)

  • Adam Cross

    clearly worth it for awesome bruises xD

  • Matt

    Probably just a story to make us laugh at ourselves when we do dumb stuff to get good photos.
    It is not a wild river, so the rapids in the grand canyon are pretty consistent, only when you get a really large rain storm in a side canyon does it vary any. However, they still are quite traumatic, just not random.

  • Matthew

    It’s an interesting story, which is why it was featured.

  • Colin Peddle

    Any hockey photographers out there know what this is like. We’ll have a never fading bruise around our shooting eye all season long… just when it starts to fade, *BOOM* hipcheck right in your camera and crack right off your eye socket.

  • AlyssaSky

    In what way is some ill-equipped photog bashing self in face with said equipment not suited for action interesting? I personally think it just proves the point how stupid some people are and agree with above statement. I have taken rapids before- but never taken my titanium cased camera which I’m sure would make me gain many bruises (usually I stick with a smaller camera). As far as I’m aware the people who are apart of the local group have known of such things since film days so it surprising how the the person in the o.p wasn’t aware- it’s pretty much advisable to only take something lightweight with you if you want to avoid severe bruising- other complications…maybe it’s just my group tho- and potentially that’s because some guy in the late 80s did the exact same thing with his film camera and ended up with a detached retina, seems too risky to potentially lose your sight for a few slightly higher res images, but that’s just my 2p.

  • AlyssaSky

    It’s not the film days, so not sure why people risk taking bulky dslr for slightly higher res images- I mentioned to the guy above that photog’s have been doing such things like the lady in the 80s but quickly abandoned such practice in recent years for lighter weight camera’s as it causes less damage (least with my local group- a lot have those fancy mirror-less things, which do shoot faster than a mirrored dslr). They get pretty decent shots from what I’ve seen too so yeah. I’ve done some ‘stupid’ things in my early years of photography (when I was teen- but technology has surely evolved and risks are less when you can strap a camera like a gopro to yourself so your hands are free to support you- I find it easier to freerun with my hands free and just take a still later on)

    Whilst rapids do tend to be consistent- and I’m only going on knowledge I have from the rapids I go to in Wales- there are times when it’s really rough for not much reason (but then that’s the UK) If anything though the problem with rapids is not so much randomness more the fact it’s just very very choppy- bit like being out in the sea which is not too fab if your a photog

  • AlyssaSky

    Agreed- as far as I know the of people who go on the rapids regularly where I am/ and the group I usually go with don’t use such equipment. Am surprised she has so much experience on the water from first glance I thought she was an amateur as most round my parts know not to use a heavy dslr and opt for cheap alternatives (which is also good if it goes awol lol)

  • AlyssaSky

    Heh apparently so. Either that or they should get on board with the micro scene more to cater for action photogs who only buy those two brands lol

  • Banan Tarr

    …live view? If you’re shooting with an ultra-wide why do you even need the camera up to your face anyway? I just shoot from the hip and adjust slightly off horizons later.

  • dpolzine

    I once helped a proud papa to the ski patrol hut after he’d spend over an hour in sub-zero weather recording junior’s first ski lesson. His exhalation had condensed around his eye and the viewfinder freezing the video camera to his face.

  • SkyisFallin

    Most pro version cameras are Magnesium, Just sayin’

  • The Anti-AntiCanon

    Wow, bash the photographer for trying to get an interesting shot. Oh, by the way, Canon is spelled with only 2 N’s not 3.

  • WHY?

    I really can’t believe some of the comments below. Sheez!

    A girl tries to get good photos using her dslr on a rapid trip, she gets bashed in the face with her gear and people are tromping on her? I don’t get it.

    You think that by using a micro-4/3rds would have been any better? Maybe not as severe, but she still would have been beat up a bit.

    Which hurts worse? Being hit with a wooden baseball bat or an aluminum one? I’ sure they both feel just about the same. Yes, I know the aluminum would cause more trauma, but they hurt just they same.

    Hey to Dawn, good job! Plain and simple. You got beat up a bit but at least you weren’t hurt too bad. We all do things that we look back at and say, how did I not hurt/kill myself by doing that? It’s called a learning process. Keep doing the same thing over and over expecting different results, is called stupid!

  • 9inchnail

    And I thought it was a photo of Chris Brown’s new girlfriend. Never have I been so wrong *hugs Bilbo*.

  • 9inchnail

    “A girl tries to get good photos using her dslr on a rapid trip, she gets
    bashed in the face with her gear and people are tromping on her? I
    don’t get it.”

    You must be new here. Let me be your guide to the internet.

  • ripley

    I don’t bruise :(

  • Heie

    Things happen – I don’t understand why people are faulting her for that. And if she never hit that one rapid, she would be commended for great photos. I’ve only been white water rafting once, and there was a guy that brought his DSLR as the photog of the company. No issues and he got some great shots. As long as I’m a passenger and not an active guide, I would have done the same thing, especially considering if I had 10 years of guiding experience on the waters.

  • Gman

    rapid beauty – dove’s new campaign photo

  • Matthew Wagg

    What good is photography without some war wounds. I think its great she did what she loves and now has bruises to remember them by. At least she’s out there shooting, unlike most of the haters on here.

  • Matthew Wagg

    Unfortunately glass isn’t out and certainly wont’ be waterproofed

  • WHY?

    Wow! It seems that everyone has a hole that they need to spout their opinions from, shame yours in in your pants.

  • WHY?

    Right!!! Well said!

  • ninpou_kobanashi

    Cannon is a word?

  • Trausti Hraunfjord

    Ah… well… then we can just hope she will wear proper head protection next time. Personally I wouldn’t want to see her bruising her face in this manner again.

  • Peter “Pots”

    I really hope that she got some good “keepers” to make up for the all of the war wounds.

  • Kim Ford Mathis-Mauck

    That must have really hurt! I love the smile on her face, she should be proud of her battle scars.

  • Joshua Boldt

    I know this is an old post, but some people seem confused that the camera hitting her in the eyes caused bruising. That is not the case. If you get hit in the head just right your eyes will get “bruised” like that. It’s called a basal skull fracture. It happened to me when I was a kid.

    Momentum tilted her downward and slammed her face and the camera into the cooler in front of her as the raft/cooler were rising up with the wave. The raft was like an arm, the cooler was like a hammer, and the camera was like a chisel and the combination smashed her skull and cracked it. The raccoon eyes come from the blood leaking out of her skull into the soft tissue in her face which is more visible around the eyes where the skin is thinner and more transparent.

    I really hope she consulted a doctor because that is some serious stuff and they would have wanted to test her for brain hemorrhaging.