15 Things Every Photographer Should Have in Their Camera Bag
If you spend any amount of time shooting on location (as opposed to shooting in a home studio) you may have found that there is something you left at home that you wish you had brought.
In addition to your primary camera, here is a list of both photography AND non-photography items to include in your camera bag. These will help make sure you are FULLY PREPARED for every photo session!
Photography Gear to Put in Your Camera Bag:
1. Back-Up Camera
If possible, bring a backup camera! This may sound absurd, but imagine how devastated you would be if you showed up to a photo shoot, or wedding, and your camera dies. Even if you only have a backup point-and-shoot, it’s better than arriving at a shoot and not having a Plan B! Just be sure to have it all set up with a full battery, lens, and media card. That way it's a seamless transition for you and for your clients.
2. Memory Cards
Memory cards are sometimes known to stop working for no apparent reason, so having an extra memory card or two on hand can save you a lot of embarrassment and stress. The night before your shoot, make sure to format your memory cards, which will ensure they work properly. Right now, you can buy a memory card for $5-$10. It's a cheap insurance policy to have handy!
Bring extra batteries for both your camera AND your flash. Also, make sure to charge your batteries the night before! I know, this seems completely obvious, but sometimes we overlook these little, yet extremely important, details when we are getting ready for a big shoot the next day. Most cameras will also allow you a battery grip. This gives you twice the amount of battery life.
4. Lens/filter wipes
A clean lens is important for keeping your shots as sharp as possible. Also, keeping your lens and filters free of dust and smears will help prevent time-consuming retouching later on. Simple tricks like this become habits and can really save on your equipment and make sure you are taking the best pictures for your clients.
If you are shooting in low light (even if it is cloudy outside!) and do not have a full frame camera with a high ISO, you will probably need a tripod to prevent camera shake. Make sure to include a tripod if don't want to take your chances shooting hand-held. This is a quick and efficient way to guarantee sharper images.
Having a reflector handy can be a life-saver. If you are shooting in uneven light, or even low light, a circular reflector can make a huge difference. Grab a friend and your reflector so you can practice using it before your next session. You'll quickly see why this is a must-have for your next session.
7. Light Meter
If you use a film SLR from time to time, make sure to include a light meter in your camera bag. The light meters in older, real film cameras can, and will, give out, due to age and battery life. If you have a smartphone, there are free light meter apps available on your phone. This will make the process so much easier and faster!
Non-Photography Items to Put in Your Camera Bag:
If your subject has tiny, flyaway hairs, it can be very time consuming to fix them in post-processing. If you are prepared, you can eliminate flyaways on the spot with a tiny bit of hairspray. A little goes a long way and will save you time in the end.
9. Lint Brush
You should have a lint brush for the reason you should have hairspray - to save time in post-processing. Lint spots on clothing are not fun to edit out of all your photos.
10. Hair Pins
Along with the hairspray and lint brush, it would be smart to have some hairpins. If someone doesn't want to use hairspray then hairpins will be a big help for managing flyaways.
11. Spot Removing Wipes for Fabric
Nice clothes and stains caused by food, grass and many other sources inevitably find each other and won't make for great pictures. So having some spot removing wipes are a quick and affordable addition to your bag that can really make a difference during your next photo session!
12. Makeup Remover Wipes
You may have a subject that needs to remove and reapply their makeup for pictures. At a wedding, for example, the mother of the bride may shed a tear and need to fix her makeup. Having makeup remover wipes on hand is a quick fix and can save the day!
I would highly encourage a handy pair of scissors when you're taking pictures outside. They are a quick and easy fix to remove an offending blade of grass, twig, etc. from intruding into the frame and make sure you are capturing your subject exactly how you want.
14. Safety Pins
It's easy for clothes to malfunction and just like that, your photo session could be over. Unless you have safety pins, that is. So pack a few, especially if you are shooting a wedding! They will save you one day.
It always helps to have tissues with. We've all had sessions where mascara can run, there are tears or someone just needs a tissue. Carry with a small pouch of them and you'll be so glad you did.
Tissues will be especially handy if you photograph weddings. Bride, mother of the bride, and bridesmaids have a tendency to cry, so having a tissue handy for runny mascara will come in very handy -- and your clients will appreciate it.
Based on my personal experience, these are the most important items to include in your camera bag for a photoshoot.
If you have any additional items you think should be included in our list, let us know by commenting below!
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