Recently I posted the first part of this article about equipment titled Preparing Equipment For A Photo Shoot – Part 1 where I gave some ideas on how to prepare for a photo shoot and I used a recent shoot I did for the Wall Street Journal as an example to give you an idea of what I might take with me for equipment on a shoot.
In this follow up, Part 2, I will discuss some of the things that can take up more time than you might expect when you are preparing your equipment. I also would like to leave you with some advice on how I avoid some of the pitfalls that can be encountered when packing up.
The two things that often take me the most time when preparing for a shoot are:
1 – Battery Charging – For the Wall Street Journal shoot I had to charge up a variety of different batteries. All of this battery charging took nearly 3 hours to complete. I had 2 Canon camera batteries to charge, which took about 1.5 hours each. I also had a bunch of AA batteries to charge for my speedlight flashes, some AAA batteries to charge up for my remote triggers, and of course I needed to charge my tablet for tethered shooting.
If you wait too long to do the charging then you might not get everything charged in time before your shoot. This is especially the case with some of my LED video light batteries when I am planning to shoot video because they take about 2 hours each to charge and I have 6 of them. I do have 2 chargers, which cuts the charging time in half, but still that is a lot of time to charge just one video batteries alone. So normally with the video batteries I recharge them after I finish a shoot so they are ready to go for the next shoot. Better than waiting to charge them right before I have a video shoot coming up.
2 – Bagging up your gear can take a lot of time too. It often does for me because I have a variety of different camera, tripod, and light stand bags. So depending on the job, I often use a different combination of bags on each shoot.
Once you have pulled out all the equipment you will use for a shoot then you need to start figuring which are the best bags to use for the job and start packing them up. Packing also often requires moving padding around within the bags to accommodate different configurations of gear. My objective though is always to get the most amount of gear in the least number of bags. This makes it faster when moving from one location to another on a shoot with my gear and it also makes it easier to keep track of your bags when you are packing your gear back up.
Following are 4 more small pieces of advice that I would like to leave you with:
1 – Amidst all the preparations you need to make for a photo shoot, it becomes easy to forget what you need to put into your bags once you start packing up. I suggest making a checklist before you start packing of the equipment you will need to bring for the shoot. This way, when it comes time to actually pack, you have a list follow and no equipment gets forgotten or left behind which should go into your bags before you head out for the shoot.
2 – Don’t do your packing and battery charging in the morning before the shoot. Do it a day or at least the night before the shoot. Also, test all your gear before you put it into the bag. Make sure the camera body is working, your batteries are fully charged, that your flashes are firing, lenses are auto-focusing correctly, etc. If you wait until the last minute to do all this you may not have enough time to charge all your batteries properly or to make other arrangements if you discover a piece of your equipment has failed.
3 – Lay all your equipment out on a table first so you can think about which bags to pack it all up in. Otherwise, if you start packing up before you gather all of your gear then you could waste time putting some stuff into a bag and then realizing everything isn’t going to fit. Then you have to unpack and switch bags and start all over again. That wastes time. So it is easier to decide which bags to use if you first lay out all your equipment on a table that you plan to take on the shoot.
4 – Try and buy some battery chargers that have auto shut off when a charge is full so that you can go to sleep while things are charging and not worry about over charging your batteries. Some battery chargers keep charging the batteries even after the batteries are fully charged. This is not good because if you leave them in the charger and go to sleep you can overcharge and damage your batteries. So choosing good battery chargers with automatic shutoff is important.
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 which is able to charge 16 batteries at a time and charge each one independently. It also automatically stops charging a battery once it is full so that batteries don’t get overcharged and ruined and can charge either AA or AAA batteries or any combination of the two types at the same time.
I hope this helps give you a general idea of how involved things can get when preparing for a shoot and my own biggest fear is always forgetting to bring a critical piece of equipment as it has happened to me before on occasion. If you have any questions or any of your own experiences with this then please feel free to share them below as always.