Do you ever wonder what is involved with preparing equipment for a photo shoot and how much time it might take to get everything ready? It might seem like a simple, or even trivial issue to some people, and which doesn’t take much thought or effort, but it is often more involved than one might think.
As a photographer, you need to consider all the equipment you will need for the shoot before you are already at the shooting location. This means you must make sure you don’t forget to bring some critical piece of equipment that might be essential to the shoot. Otherwise, the shoot could come to a very abrupt ending if you didn’t bring every single piece of equipment necessary. For example, even something as simple as a tripod mounting plate can prevent a shoot from going forward if you plan to be shooting something where a tripod is required. You also don’t want to bring more gear than you need with you as it is just extra weight and more risk of damage or loss to equipment once it leaves your studio. So you need to prepare and pack wisely.
A lot of what you will need to bring on a shoot also depends on the nature of the photos you will be capturing, any props that might be needed, wardrobe for models, and etc. But even for a relatively simple or small shoot, it still can take a few hours just to get everything ready and packed up.
This past week I had a relatively straight forward shoot for the Wall Street Journal. In terms of the equipment that was needed, it was a lot less than what I often take out on larger commercial shoots. The WSJ assignment involved taking both still photos and capturing some video footage. But because the photos for news publications are more of an editorial nature, I did not need to use a typical commercial lighting setup for this assignment, which made my kit smaller for this job.
So for the lighting of the stills on the WSJ shoot I was using only a couple of (easy to move around) speed light flashes for a bit of fill in light. And for the video I was just using the ambient light and no video lights for this as it was mainly outdoor video footage being shot during the day. So there was not a lot of lighting to bring for this shoot overall. And since I was shooting both the still photos and the video with the same camera setup, I did not need to bring 2 sets of different camera equipment either.
I think this is a good shoot to use as an example for the type of gear that may be involved in a typical shoot since it may resemble too what many photographers could be using for equipment as a minimum. Thus, when I got back to my studio from this shoot, I made a quick list of everything that I had taken with me for this assignment so that I could include it here for you. Below is an inventory of everything I brought with me to the shoot and I think you might be surprised (as I was) how many items actually came back out of my bags when I got back from the job:
01 – 17-35mm Lens
02 – 24mm Tilt/Shit Lens
03 – 24mm lens hood
04 – 24-105mm lens
05 – Fluid tripod head for video
06 – Fluid head control arm
07 – Gear tripod head for photos
08 – Manfrotto tripod
09 – 2X 32GB memory cards
10 – DSLR camera body
11 – Camera battery grip
12 – 2X camera batteries
13 – 2x speed light flashes
14 – 2x speed light triggers
15 – Spirit hot shoe level
16 – Tablet computer
17 – Tethering USB cable
18 – 2X speed light brackets
19 – 2X flash umbrellas
20 – 2X light stands
21 – External microphone
22 – Tylenol!
The other reason I used this shoot as an example is because, even with a relatively straight forward assignments like this, it still takes a fair amount of gear to pull it off. But people often might think there isn’t so much involved, which I wish was really the case. It would be great if all I would need to bring is just a camera swung over my shoulder as some clients often imagine. In fact, everything on the above list was used by me at some point or another during the shoot, including all 3 of the lenses.
If we are talking about shoots that involve a lot of lighting, then the amount of total gear can get really heavy in terms of weight as well. When I travel overseas for architectural jobs it often requires a lot of stuff. Sometimes I am traveling with a multiple of steel cases and as much as 150 pounds of gear all together.
I decided I am going to wrap this post up here for now since there is still a bit more I need to cover for you on this subject. So in about a week I will post Part 2 of this article where I will discuss the 2 things that can take the most amount of time when getting your equipment ready for a shoot. I will also give you 2 pieces of good advice to help you avoid the pitfalls of getting out onto a shoot and realizing then that you are in trouble after it is already too late. An example of a really good charger that I use for AA and AAA batteries is the Titanium Smart Fast 16 Bay Ni-MH AA/AAA Battery Charger AC 100-240V + DC Adapters MD-1600L which is able to charge 16 batteries at a time and charge each one independently. I also can charge either AA or AAA batteries or a combinaiton of both at the same
So check back in a week or so for Part 2 or make it easier by just subscribing to the blog and receive short email notifications when I post future articles.
*UPDATE #1 / 11-September-15* – I just posted posted the second part of this article Preparing Equipment For A Photo Shoot – Part 2. You can go here to read the article.
Great advice! I’ve forgotten my tripod base plate before. Worst one was turning up at Angkor and realising I’d left my film at home. Since then I always put a sign on the front door ‘FILM IN FRIDGE’ a day before I leave.
Hope you’re well,
Thank you for your good feedback Martin. I of course have forgotten things too in the past. I’ll discuss how to help avoid that too in my next post. Thank goodness we don’t have to remember to bring film at least in most cases anymore. Cheers. Marc.