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We study the Hamiltonian formulation for a parametrized electromagnetic field with the purpose of clarifying the interplay between parametrization and gauge symmetries. We use a geometric approach which is tailor-made for theories where embeddings are part of the dynamical variables. Our point of view is global and coordinate free. The most important result of the paper is the identification of sectors in the primary constraint submanifold in the phase space of the model where the number of independent components of the Hamiltonian vector fields that define the dynamics changes. This explains the non-trivial behavior of the system and some of its pathologies.