Recently Paired Inc. approached me do put together a post for their Tools of the Trade campaign. The topic of the post is essentially, what tools do you use on a daily basis in your business? This is a crazy open-ended question.. Each shoot requires a very specific set of tools that I tailor to the particular project (Look at these 2 specific posts on projects Traveling with Photo Gear and Weekend Survival Kit). Other factors that determine what I bring and use on a shoot include weather, location, personality of business, timeframe of the shoot, and many more. But if you boil every shoot down to the bare essentials there is a list of items that I typically always bring along no matter what the subject of the shoot is.
1. Camera! – Personally I shoot with the Nikon D3 and a D800. No I didn’t tape over the brand because I’m ashamed.. I do a lot of traveling and I tape over the shiny bits to make the camera look older and less appealing to thieves.
2. Back up camera – Depends on the job, whichever body I’m not using. Having a backup is always a must.
3. Wide Lens – My Nikkor 24 – 70 is a workhorse! 24 mm is wide enough to capture just about everything you would need in your shot without crazy amounts of distortion, and the 70 mm is just about what human vision equates to so it’s a very natural looking focal length.
4. Telephoto Lens – Zooming compresses the scene giving you that awesome blurry background everyone loves. The Nikkor 70-200 is the perfect solution. Also very handy when I’m shooting portraits in a distracting venue or just don’t feel like being that close to my subject.
5. Strobe Battery Pack – I love flash! This Elinchrom Ranger Quadra is one of the best buys when you compare price/flash output/weight. Battery powered means I can shoot anywhere. So portable, so awesome.
6. Strobe Head – freakishly tiny these guys are nothing for my assistants to hold out on monopod. Only downside is they need to be tethered to the battery.. Can’t have it all. Or can I??
7. Speed Light – sometimes you just need the bare essentials. Speed lights are that. Versatile, small, light, why not have a couple around?! Too bad they can’t kick out the power of the ranger or last as long.
8. Speed Light backup – always got to have a backup, or a second or third light to toss up
9. Radio Transmitters – off camera flash, need I say more? I choose Cybersync because they are cheaper than some other transmitters you see out there and they are super cute!
10. Extra Memory Cards – I shoot a lot. Both my bodies have 2 card slots and I set the camera to copy every image to both at the same time, so I’m filling two cards at once. Gotta have some spares laying around.
11. Extra Batteries – no one likes a dead battery. Especially paying clients, and my landlord.
12. Tripod – a must to get razor sharp images. Do I always use it? No, but I should..
13. Light Stands – when I can’t afford an assistant to be my personal light stand
14. Light Meter – No matter if you want to overpower ambient light, fill in a bit, or match seamlessly a light meter is a must to test the light before you shoot, save your shutter! Cameras do have a life expectancy.
15. Energy Bar – some shoots include a lunch break, some don’t. Either way I’m eating!
16. Gels – one thing I despise in flash photography is when two or more light sources don’t balance. These little guys make me happy.
17. Coffee! – caffeine addict, keeps the shakes away.
18. Gaff Tape – real mans duct tape. Great for quick fixes, keeping cords and people out of danger, or for removing hair from your body.
19. iPhone – permanently attached to my hand. A must for emails, phone calls, social networking and you know, angry birds.. Mostly business?
20. Lens Cleaning Solution – dirty glass is nasty, using your shirt to clean a lens is worse
21. USB Battery – life is sad when you kill your mobile device.. And it always happens when you least expect it! This sucker from Mophie will fully charge two iPhones, or one iPad.
22. Monopod – dual purpose, assistants use it with my ranger set and I use it when I want stable shots but am too lazy for a tripod, or need a good thumping stick.
23. iPad – digital portfolio, larger screen for surfing/emails, tethering for client viewing during a shoot, digital clipboard. The uses are almost infinite on a shoot.
24. AA Batteries – lots of things need them, I should buy stock.
25. Sensor Cleaning Kit – those black specks you see in your photos aren’t from the dust on the front of your lens, they are on your sensor, and they are the worst thing in the world. This saves me from editing them out of every single photo I take.
26. Business Cards! – More business is always a good thing, what kind of a business owner am I if I can’t keep a couple cards on me. You never know who you will see on a shoot and what business you can drum up out on a shoot! Just don’t ignore your current client to try and land another one..
What would you consider a ‘Must Have’ at every project you work on?
-Chris W ‘WhonPhoto’