Today, we’re taking a look at some of the less-obvious items that you may not consider bringing to a photo shoot. Some are tiny things, others are big – all of them will help to make any photography shoot go far smoother!
Every few weeks, we revisit some of our reader's favorite posts from throughout the history of the site. This tutorial was first published in June of 2010.
What to Bring?
If you’ve ever shot an event such as a wedding or travelled to different locations for a portrait session, you know that it can be quite stressful. Venturing outside of your comfortable and well-equipped studio leaves you open to endless possible unexpected crises, both major and minor.
While preparing for these events, we tend to focus on gathering our major equipment. Lights, softboxes, cameras, stands, camera cards, backup batteries, light meters, flashes; the list goes on and on. However, after your first few outings you start to realize that there is often quite a few little items that you regret not bringing.
I teamed up with a few great professional photographers to bring you a helpful list of items you should consider adding to your list of standard equipment. Keep in mind that we’re not suggesting that you bring all of these items to every single shoot, you’ve no doubt got enough equipment to carry around already. These are merely suggestions to consider individually based on a particular scenario.
Ever wondered how photographers get such great shots of their subjects from above? A dedicated photographer doesn’t mind climbing a tree to get a good photo, but a smart photographer packs a ladder.
You’ll definitely want to invest in something small and portable like in the shot above. A product like this is lightweight and easy to carry and can double as a seat when you need a break on those all day shoots.
Having an elevated mobile vantage point at your disposal will really open you up to some great shot opportunities.
It’s never a bad idea to bring a few towels to a shoot. They can serve a variety of purposes and you’ll find yourself glad that you brought them several times throughout the day.
People frequently dress up for a photo shoot and occasionally like to be able to lean against or sit on objects without messing up their clothes and towels provide great and comfortable protection. They can also serve as makeup blotters for the ladies and sweat control for the guys.
The Right Shirt
It might sound crazy but you’re shirt can actually have a noticeable impact on an any close-up shots you take. Light bounces right off your chest and can slightly reflect its color onto your subject.
Be especially wary of bright colors like in the picture above, the last thing you want is to spend hours adjusting the red out of people’s faces because you wanted to make a bold fashion statement. Lots of photographers only wear black but a white shirt can actually serve to provide some rudimentary fill light on your subject under the right conditions!
Also in the clothing category, you might want to keep a change of clothes handy in your car in case of an emergency. Photography can a provide for a pretty active day and you never know when you’ll bust a seam or find yourself covered in cake!
It can often be quite difficult to predict when the weather is going to try to ruin your shoot. You can either choose to come prepared or lose time and money by rescheduling.
If you choose the former, a little rain can actually result in a great shoot filled with some really unique photos opportunities.
Just make sure you pick up a few umbrellas with good aesthetic appeal and have at least one masculine and one feminine option available. Think of the umbrellas as props and work them into your shots in clever ways. The polka dots in the photo above are a nice touch!
Stuff for Kids and Pets
When you’re taking photos of kids or doing a family shoot with a pet, it can be really difficult to get everyone to play along. This can unfortunately lead to you sorting through hundreds of shots of distracted subjects.
If you know you’re going into a shoot with kids, pets or both, be sure to pack some squeaky toys and noise makers to easily capture their attention. Squeaking away behind the camera might make you feel more like a shopping mall photo guy than a professional photographer, but it pays off in results.
While we’re on the subject of children, it’s a good idea to pack some candy as well. If anyone is misbehaving, sugar can provide some powerful bribery leverage. Of course, be sure to run the idea by the parents before you go filling their kids up with lollipops and gum balls!
Finally, consider bringing along some bubbles. Not only are they a cheap way to keep children (and occasionally pets!) happily occupied, they can also provide some excellent photo material.
Insect Repellant and Sunscreen
If you’re wandering out into the great outdoors to bring nature into the shot, be prepared for nature to protest in the form of thirsty blood sucking insects and/or blistering hot sun. Both you and your subjects will be much more comfortable if you take some precautions by packing the necessary chemicals.
I know from experience that shooting all day events like weddings can be physically exhausting. Though the guests are feasting, you’re on your feet all day, constantly running from place to place with hardly any time to stop and eat or drink.
On days like these, toss a couple of protein bars and water bottles in your bag to help keep you going. They’re no substitute for a good wedding buffet but they do provide enough quick sustenance to at least tide you over for a few hours until you can get a proper break.
What Do You Bring?
Obviously, the possibilities for helpful auxiliary items are endless. Some of my final suggestions include band-aids, an mp3 player, comfortable shoes, breath mints, sunglasses, and extension cords.
Let us know in the comments below what untraditional items you always bring to a shoot. Also be sure to share any stories of when you regretted not bringing a particular item!