Everyone knows the essential things to bring on a photo shoot – cameras, back-up batteries, memory cards, tripod, etc. But what about the less obvious, but seriously helpful items? Read on for our top ten must-haves to pack in your gear bag.
1. A Small Ladder (or foldable step stool)
Unless you’re Spiderman, it’s really useful to bring a ladder and/or a step stool along. Not only do they give you perspective options, they also may very well keep you from falling out of a tree as you try to get that shot…
2. Tape, tape, and more tape
It’s a good idea to pack two types of Gaffer tape: Standard silver for strength and black, which doesn’t peel paint. You might also want to include blue painter tape. It’s kind to all surfaces (won’t peel anything) and keeps cords covered for safety.
One pro photographer and friend of Blurb uses Gaffer tape for everything from keeping drapery and electrical cords out of the photo to poising pillows just so for architectural/interior shoots to quieting noisy assistants (we think he’s kidding about the last one).
3. Clothespins and disposable plastic tablecloths
Use clothespins to clip fabric (for bouncing light) to cross bars, lighting stands, you name it. You can even break clothespins apart to use as small wedges to lift or stabilize objects.
The plastic tablecloths are multipurpose. Use the white ones as reflectors or to shoot through. The black ones are useful for blocking light. Both are great to put on the ground and put your gear on for protection. You can buy these tablecloths at any party goods rental place. They’re inexpensive and re-usable.
4. A small toolset or Leatherman, and lightweight nylon rope.
Pretty obvious. Stuff happens. Be prepared with your own set of tools for small repairs. The rope is useful to tie things out of the way (we’re not talking about noisy assistants here).
5. VisibleDust Sensor cleaning kit
Dust happens, too. Head to the VisibleDust site, where you can either buy a kit or individual cleaning tools. In addition to soft cloths like chamois for cleaning your camera lens, be sure to pack along a hand-powered air bulb, like a Rocket Air Blower.
6. X-Rite Passport for accurate color
7. High-powered mini flashlight or headlamp
Most photographers will tell you this is a must-have. Great thing about a headlamp is that it frees your hands to look for that piece of equipment you thought you left near the…whatever. Photo shoots can run late and things get lost. Pack a flashlight or headlamp and be prepared.
8. Extension cords and every kind of adapter known to man
Pack a 25-ft cord with an adapter and an 8-ft. smaller extension cord that you can use for your computer if you’re shooting tethered. Have a wide selection of adapters on hand so you can always plug in and get power no matter where you are.
9. Easy Release application on iPhone or iPad
Hard copy releases are a hassle. Get this app and you can complete, file, and send model and property releases digitally.
Here’s how it works: The app serves up a digital release that people can digitally sign. It then sends the release via email to the subject and photographer.
10. Umbrellas, sunscreen, insect repellent, and snacks
Okay, we sound like your mom, but seriously, these things can make a huge difference. Word to the wise: Have a towel or baby wipes handy to wipe your hands if you’re using sunscreen so it doesn’t get on equipment.
That’s our list, folks. Special thanks to pro photographers Seth Resnick and Jay Graham who helped us out and shared their top ten list. We’d love to hear any items you consider essential to take along on photo shoots. Let us know.