Think getting a sore shutter finger from taking too many shots at a wedding is bad, or a sore back from carrying too many lenses? It’s nothing compared to what top landscape and wildlife photographer, Andrew Fusek Peters (above), has been through – a tripod recently severed the tip of his index finger in a freak accident!

Tripod attack: war of the wrens

‘I had been photographing a wren’s nest in my neighbour’s garden and it was wonderful to see the chicks growing as mum was feeding,’ recounts Andrew, who is a regular contributor to AP. ‘However, on Sunday May 21st, as I carried my tripod over the fence to our garden, I fell and the rather sturdy tripod closed on my index finger and cut the end off.’

As Andrew explains, he stood on a planter to get over the fence – the planter collapsed under his weight, and his Manfrotto 055 tripod acted like a pincer, taking off the top of the finger as it closed. ‘I don’t blame the tripod at all, it was just one of those things. It was partly the way I fell, as I was trying to protect my OM-1 camera and 40-150mm lens.

Andrew Fusek Peters, wren

‘Wren’ jumping over a fence with a tripod, take care! Picture credit: Andrew Fusek Peters

‘I pray never to see one of the bones in my body again. I was rushed to hospital and after cleaning it and dressing it, amazingly, they were able to operate on Monday morning, clipping back the bone so the finger could heal over it. My index finger will now be about 1cm shorter. Just after the accident, while I was screaming in pain, I asked my son to have a look at the tripod, and he got the remains of the finger tip out, but the doctors couldn’t stitch it back on.

The surgeon was very confident that I will make a good recovery, however, and that of all the fingers, losing the end of my index finger is least worst. But I am in a huge amount of pain on and off and I have learned that photography is an extreme sport! I am also glad it’s not my shutter finger.’

Andrew is also an accomplished butterfly photographer, and was supposed to be working on his second book. ‘It feels like butterfly season is now flowing past me and I can only watch all the wonderful pictures on social media. I have had to cancel a load of the various projects I was on, but sometimes life stops you in your tracks.

Andrew Fusek Peters, Kingfisher

One of Andrew’s recent kingfisher shots from the River Clun. Picture credit: Andrew Fusek Peters

In the meantime, despite still being in pain, I have been photographing kingfishers on the River Clun near my home in Shropshire. I strongly believe you should get images of kingfishers in the wild, not shoot them going in and out of a tank full of minnows, under the surface of a lake or a stream. I worry that people are paying to shoot performing kingfishers rather than making the effort to get them in the wild, which is much more rewarding.’

We wish Andrew a speedy recovery and hopefully it’s not put anyone off bird photography or tripods – see our guide to the best tripods, and tripod advice from professional photographers.

Further reading
Ultimate guide to tripods
Tripod tips from the pros
How to photograph fast moving birds and animals
How to photograph butterflies