There are just a few things that are useful no matter what, and I bring them with me to every shoot, photography expedition, or adventure I go on! I know everyone has a different opinion, but all these carry my personal recommendation. Here we go!
A lot of photographers have dozens of these, and for a good reason. They are amazing! On one end you have a cleaning tip to safely apply a carbon compound to the lens (carbon absorbs a lot of the stuff that gets on the lens) and rub it in to remove the stuff that you don’t want obscuring your images. The other end has a retractable brush to just sweep it all away! It’s the best cleaning product for my lenses and I do totally rely on it.
In fact, during college, I worked at the schools equipment cage. This was a place students could rent out high-end equipment for their products (because students have a hard time paying $1000 for a lens). When the lenses came back, I’d always check the condition. I swear some people were testing me because it wasn’t uncommon for me to say things like, “Is…is this butter on the lens?” When I would take everything out for cleaning. And I did it all with a Lenspen.
2. Cleaning Supplies
I know I just touted the virtues of Lenspen, and said how much I rely on it. Let me justify myself: redundancy. I don’t go to a portrait shoot with only one lens for portraits, I back my computer up to two hard drives, and I bring two camera bodies to important shoots. So I also pack my trusty little Canon Lens cleaning kit. If I lose or misplace the Lenspen or there’s something clumpy that I don’t want to use the Pen for, I have this.
It’s a nice little kit with some lens cleaning fluid, a small brush, and a microfiber cloth. Simple and to the point.
3. Backup Batteries
Not for the camera (that’s later). For my phone and/or iPad. Like most people these days, I’m a slave to technology. While I do like to put them down and silence them when I’m out shooting in the mountains, sometimes it’s necessary. I have a USB to Lightning adapter, so I routinely download the images I’ve shot into my iPad and look at them on a larger screen. This gets me into battery trouble because when I see an image I love, I’ll fiddle around and do some little edits and then I’ll go through the rest and before you know it, iPad’s dead.
My phone is my GPS, my radio, and my connection to friends, family, and my business. So between phone calls, texting, music, navigation, and more, my phone battery will die too. Not a problem when I’m mostly driving around to shoot, but a big problem when I park and hike a distance and shoot for a while.
I bring 3 of them. I rarely go out totally alone and I know my friends and colleagues use their phones far more than I do, so I pack extra. They don’t weigh much and it’s always a pleasant surprise for the other people to be handed something to charge with. Personally, I even bring a micro USB cable for my one friend with an Android phone. I’m not hating, I just have very few friends who use them. Namely 3. But the other two live over 2000 miles away so they don’t count for the purposes of this blog.
4. Extra Camera Batteries
I told you I’d get around to this. I’ve never actually needed extra batteries because I use an extended battery grip which doubles my battery life, but I’m a very cautious kind of photographer and, like they taught me in Boy Scouts, “always be prepared.”
5. Memory cards
This should go without saying, but in full disclosure, I always have extra CF cards with me because I shoot a lot. I recommend bringing at least 3 extras since you never know what could happen.
6. 40mm Prime Lens
This is my favorite little pancake lens. It’s not always useful, but it’s versatile and I can use it in the place of a body-cap for my camera, which means if something INSANE is happening, I can pull it out and it’s already ready to shoot. It’s the only lens I have with this capability.