I’m sure you’ve experienced that before: You are out shooting and them discover that something critical piece of equipment is missing. You run out of battery and have no spare with you, all of a sudden the memory card is full and you have the choice to either start deleting individual shots from this on the card to create space for some extra photos or you stop shooting for the day. You are missing a particular lense that you intended to bring and need right now to take that dream shot or complete the job for the customer. Or you pack out your ND grad filter to balance sky and ground and discover the filter-holder is back home. This is even worse when you are traveling and find out at your destination that you left a needed piece of equipment at home.
All of this happened to me a couple of times and this is when I created my photography equipment checklist that I quickly run through before I leave the house.
Camera: The most obvious, if you have more than one make sure you take the right one needed for the particular shoot you go to. Consider bringing a backup body. Do you want to carry along a small point and shoot or is the phone camera enough if you want to keep a stealthy profile. Do you have a any special camera (infrared, 360 degrees, underwater) you want to carry along? In case the camera is new consider bringing the manual (or load the pdf version in your dropbox-account).
Batteries and Chargers: Make sure you don’t run out of juice while shooting, always carry at least one loaded spare and bring the charger if you are away from home longer.
Memory Cards: Just don’t run out of space on your memory cards. Todays cards are inexpensive. Make sure your spares are really empty. If you plan to fire multiple frames in burst mode ensure your memory card’s transfer rate is sufficient.
Lenses: Check what lenses are most practical or absolutely required for your planned photographic activities. Wide-angle, Zoom, Tele, Macro, Fast Primes of various focal lengths (important if you shoot in low-light conditions), special lenses like Fish-Eye or pinhole. Check what is need in order to avoid excessive equipment and weight.
Lighting: Does your planned shooting require lighting? Think of your Hotshot-Flash (plus sufficient batteries) or LED lights. Think of extra flashes if needed, plus remote flash triggers (master and slave) if you have them for firing off camera flash reliably. Do you need to bring light modifiers (umbrella, soft-box, reflectors, light-stands)?
Metering / Color Reference Equipment: You want to bring your light meter if you shoot in difficult lighting situations? You need a grey card or color reference card to help correct white/color balance in your images?
Filters: The most common filters you could need are Neutral Densitiy Filters, Hard- and Soft-Grads, Infrared, Polarizer. Check if you packed the filter holder plus the required lense adapters and in case you use circular screw-in filters, check that they fit the diameter of the lenses you carry with you or bring a set of step-up rings.
Stabilization Equipment: Did you pack your tripod (don’t forget the mounting plate and a coin to screw the cam on and off!!), monopod, bean-bag?
External Camera Control: Do you need (electronic) cable release for triggering without camera shake (maybe your cam can be controlled by smartphone, so bring it and make sure it is charged). Intervalometer to do time-lapse images? If you shoot tethered, bring all cables required to hook up your cam to your laptop.
Props: Check if you need any props or supporting equipment like tape, screwdriver, clamps, backgrounds and stands, adjustable stools for portrait sessions.
Computer: Check if you want to bring your laptop and its AC charger. If it doesn’t have a built in memory card reader bring an external one (and its cable).
Back-Up Drive: Make sure you bring an external secondary backup drive to have a backup copy of your images before you format your memory card. It is also advisable to keep backup drive and primary storage location physically separated.
Bags: When traveling consider if besides your primary camera bag / backpack that carries all your equipment you want to bring a smaller bag for everyday use for lighter carrying of being less visible.
Personal Items: It also helps to check you have adequate clothing, sun protection, insect repellents, drinks and snacks and rain protection for yourself and your equipment.
I hope you find this helpful. If you feel something is missing please add via comment.
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Have a great week !