Everyone has at least one horror story or the like when they've been taking photographs where everything seems to go wrong and you have to pull all stops to make things work. These situations often provide valuable lessons that you never forget, and I've had a few, but the following was my most recent and probably the most frustrating that incorporated both feats and failures. A couple of years ago, I agreed to do a family portrait for a friend, a kind of anniversary group shot to go with one taken ten years ago (at a botanical garden not that far away). No big deal, except it was to be done at their home, which didn’t offer a lot scope, but there was a garden spot that was nice enough, though with limited space. I got there early, to explain what I wanted to do and set up a few things and to loosen up the group. However, several of the family members were late, the weather had turned and was becoming windy, and I was then told that they had to be at a restaurant in around 30 min for a family luncheon. WTF? I managed to get some shots of mum and dad, and then sons and daughters with their respective partners before the weather went really bad and we had to move indoors. The problem was that we now had to move a stack of furniture around to provide a clear area to set up my Elinchroms (which I’m glad I brought along) and a spot that would be clean enough and large enough to accommodate the entire family. Time was ticking and I think I had about 10 mins left before they had to leave, but I hadn’t yet got anything that I was really happy with, as the family just wasn’t settled in. At that very moment, one of my Elinchroms stopped working. Great! A quick check of the fuse and that was fine and nothing else showed up, so I was stuck with a dead strobe unit. I had some FL-50s with me, so I set one up and furiously took a couple of shots to get an even light balance, while the group was getting visibly fidgety and possibly annoyed. I was finally all set, as best as I could, and I got the group to vary expressions etc and, with some relief (especially for me), told them that was it and enjoy the luncheon. The shots turned out pretty good in the end, but could have been far better had I been given more time and a better location. However, it just highlighted to me the issues that you get when doing work for friends, even though it was on the basis that they pay for all material costs involved (labour was gratis), as so much is taken for granted. When you get a photographer who you have to pay the full cost, you tend to not take the photographer for granted. Your own family is usually the worst. The other thing is to always have backup, be it camera, lighting, batteries everything, as you can be certain that Murphy will be lurking around the corner ready to pounce, if you give him a chance. As for the Elinchrom, it turned out to be a melted wire inside the unit, which I managed to fix fairly easily, but how that particular wire melted and the fuse stayed intact is beyond me.