Going out on any photography job can require a certain level of gear. Sometimes you can get away with one camera and one lens, other times it can require a sea of lights, cables, batteries, lenses, and multiple cameras, and this mania can make it difficult to prepare for the unexpected when you are preparing for what you are.
As photographers, our job can be boiled down as fixing one problem after another until we have the finished product. We all probably have stories of things that happened while shooting that we were unprepared for. Most of the time reshoots cannot be scheduled either due to cost, time or a once-in-a-lifetime event, like a wedding, so it’s always good to have a few seemingly random supplies in your bag that can become total lifesavers when in a pinch. Below is a list of things that I keep in my bag to mitigate Murphy’s Law.
Gaffer’s Tape – The seemingly magic material is worth its weight in gold on film sets and photo shoots. It can be used to keep cables down, tighten loose clothing, labeling, fix shoes, make hangers, cover branding, etc. I keep about 100 feet on my tripod at all times.
Flashlight – Useful for finding gear in a dark venue or bleak sound stage
Sharpies/Pens – Inevitably, you will need to write something down or label something
Breath Mints – In case you have bad coffee breath when meeting a client first thing in the morning or if Mila Kunis shows up.
Ball Bungies – Keeping cables wrapped up or hiding light stands behind curtains
Friction Arms – Attach a monitor or field recorder to anything (if you are out of gaff tape)
Spring Clamps – Holding up reflectors or keeping backdrops tight
Tide To-Go – I should buy stock. I have used mine at almost every wedding last year, from messy grooms to clumsy bridesmaids. It will save you from fixing the stain later in post production.
C-47s (Clothespins)/Binder Clips – Every wonder how clothes in magazines look so crisp and form fitting? Also useful to hold gels on light fixtures
Multitool – What other device can ply, cut, measure, or file and fit into your pocket? This along with my camera is part of my everyday carry.
It can be frustrating not having the gear and accessories you need to do your job. Showing up to a gig with all of your gear in tow, even though you probably didn’t need that extra light, only to realize that you forgot a something small like a pen to cross off names or tape to keep people from tripping on. The things won’t save you from every situation, like if your D750 stopped working suddenly, but with a level head and calm attitude that will get you out of sticky situations.
Below Peter McKinnon shares a video on the 7 things he keeps in his bag as a filmmaker.
If you’re an experienced photo you might have your own list of weird supplies that you keep in your camera bag, If you do share it below