I don’t know how many time I have been caught unprepared, even when I thought I was prepared. I have had all my batteries go dead. My compact flash fill up. I run into bad weather. I have also had soft gear failures. No matter how prepared I thought I would be, I never was that prepared.
Here are some suggestion I came up with after time after time of not being prepared.
1. First clean all your camera gear. Clean your camera’s sensor. If you don’t know how to clean the camera sensor, don’t try to do it without someone with experience walking you through the process first. One mistake during this process and, well lets say it’s cheaper to buy a new camera.
Don’t forget to clean your lenses. They get a lot of abuse and are exposed to dust and other elements. A good cleaning of your camera and lenses, will also give a chance to do a good visual inspection of your gear. This way if you have an issue with gear, you can address it right away.
Most of the time my pre-shoot cleaning goes quick. It is mainly for the inspection process. The reason why it goes quick, is because I do a real good cleaning of all my gear after every shoot. I do this so if I have a gear issue, I can take care of it in plenty of time before the next shoot. At the very least it gives me time to rent gear if needed, while my gear may need repair.
2. Next batteries, you can never have enough. Make sure they are charged prior to your shoot. Here is the problem. Most photographers have plenty of batteries, but only one battery charger. It’s a real pain if you only have one charger and two batteries, and both of them are dead. especially if you have a shoot in 30 minutes. I recommend purchasing an additional battery charger. If you can get a battery charger that will charge your batteries both with AC or DC current, wall power or car cigarette charger. That way if you have to travel by car you can charge a battery or two between shoots locations, or on your way to the shoot.
Have plenty of batteries for your flash or other equipment. Make sure you have extras of rechargeable or alkaline batteries.
3. Memory cards. Memory cards are all pretty much the same. The are a small cards with tons of memory storage on a wafer thin silicone chip. Whether you use Compact Flash (CF), SD, SDHC or any variant of memory card, they are the same. Ok, so there is some differences in memory cards, like data writing speed and storage size, but who measuring.
First, step in preparing your memory cards, make sure all old data on your cards have been downloaded. You would hate yourself if you were caught in a position of having to erase very important data to make sure you have enough space for your current shoot.
Second, even though you may have a memory card reader, you should always reformat your memory card in your camera and not on the computer. Why?, well your camera has firmware that rewrites important camera data on your memory card during reformatting, that helps the camera read your memory card when writing data during taking pictures. If you always reformat the memory card in the camera you are less likely to have data loss or drop-outs on the card.
4. Final check, always make a final check of all your gear. If you have to make a check list, do it. I don’t know how many times a check list has saved my arse. So make your list and check it twice.
I know that there is always more we can cover, to make sure we are always prepared for a photo shoot. However, this is a brief list of the some of the crucial things I do before or after a shoot. Just remember the seven P’s, Proper Prior Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance.
Good Luck, and keep your horizon straight and lens sharp.