non-photography goodies in my camera case
Work as a wedding photographer isn’t just about the gear – cameras, lenses and flashguns – and about taking photographs of key moments. Often enough it is up to you as the wedding photographer to help guide the day’s time-line and flow, and also just to help. For me, wedding photography isn’t just a passively observed event where I take photographs in a photo-journalistic or story-telling motif. I’m there to record the day’s events, but also to help, if necessary, making it a spectacular day.
In the photo above, I took over from the maid of honor when her fingers weren’t strong enough for that final button and clasp at the back of the bride’s dress. My fingers were stronger, so I finished the last button. So as a photographer I’m often called on to do more than just take photographs. And in my camera roller case, I keep some extra non-photography related goodies …
small tools & random items
In one of the several zipped travel pack that I have, I keep a selection of loose items. I really like the bags made by by Eagle Creek. (Amazon) The black mesh allows you to get an idea of what is inside, without having to open it first. Inside one of the quart-sized bags, I keep:
- jeweler’s screwdrivers in specific sizes
These are essential to fasten any screws that may come loose. For example, you might need a small flat screwdriver to lift the hot-shoe cover, and a Philips head jeweler’s screwdriver to fasten the screws holding your hot-shoe down. So go over your equipment, (including light-stands and such), and inspect them for any screws that might need fastening on the spot during a shoot.
- various single hexagonal keys / Allen keys
For example, the Red-wing light stands that I use have hex screws that often loosen with use. I keep one hex key just for them. Another would be for the camera strap adapter that I use. Occasionally they do become loose.
- Leatherman squirt S4 multi-purpose tool (Amazon)
a compact multi-purpose tool with small scissors
- iPhone charger cable and charger block (Amazon)
the 2 Amp version that will also charge my iPad
- Maglite (Amazon) – the smaller one that takes two AA batteries
- a pen and a Sharpie
- nail clippers
- any other small items which might go missing in a large camera bag.
travel sewing kit (Amazon) -I remove the measuring tape from that kit, since it isn’t useful for us here. But I add:
- a number of extra buttons,
- more safety pins in various sizes, as well as
- bobby pins / hair pins. There will always be a bridesmaid that needs a bobby pin.
You’ll save someone the effort of scurrying around trying to find a simple hairpin. While hotels and catering venues usually keep some on hand for guests, it will just save everyone a lot of effort if you readily have them on hand. This is an easy way to look like you’re really prepared and on top of things.
ear plugs – these are essential for me. By the time you do 2 or 3 weddings a weekend during the peak season, your ears take a hammering from the DJ or band at the reception. Similar to when I drop my daughter and her friends off at rock concerts and have them solemnly recite to me as I hand each of them a set of ear plugs, “These are mandatory and not negotiable”.
headache tablets, like Tylenol. Get them in individual wrappings instead of a bottle. Less things that clatter around, and more innocuous if you give someone a head-ache tablet and it is properly wrapped and sealed.
band-aids – for the inevitable ouchies that you’ll sustain.
Often enough, even though you have cleaned your sensor and keep lens swapping to a minimum, you might see a big dust bunny in your images when you review them while shooting. For those dreaded times, to save myself endless editing afterward, I do a quick rescue there and then (if time permits) to remove dust and particles:
American Recorder compressed CO2 kit (Amazon)
You do have to be careful with these items though. I’ve had instances where it seems like I somehow added an oily smudge on my sensor due to either of these. So make sure your Visible Dust brushes are super-clean. So I only use these on-location when I see a big dust bunny.
Epson digital storage unit and viewer.
I still have the older Epson P-5000, but the latest version is the Epson P-7000 (B&H / Amazon). I only bring this along when I work with a second shooter at a wedding. Instead of relying on the 2nd-shooter to send me multiple discs of RAW files, I download the other photographer’s cards right there during the wedding reception. (I still ask that they don’t format and use the cards until I’ve confirmed that I have everything transferred to my main computer.)
Other Stuff I keep in the car
- GPS – this is another of the non-negotiable essentials for a photographer, especially here on the East Coast of the USA. The roads are a spaghetti bowl of strangely twisted and looping roads. You need 21st Century technology here!
- Gatorade and water and snacks in a small cooler box.
That about sums it up for all the non-photography items I have accessible whenever I’m on a photo shoot. Of course, most important of all is back-up of your camera gear and lenses. Think worst-case scenario – will you be able to continue without skipping a beat when your camera or lens or flash dies on you? Cables? Batteries? Think in terms of back-up for your back-ups.
All of these things make life easier for you as a photographer when things veer away from what you anticipated.
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