A couple of weeks ago I talked about the essentials needed for festival photography. Today I’m going to tackle what you will need to make any portrait shoot a success. Some of the things listed will be the same as last time because there are some things you should always have your camera bag. This list will be a tad long but everything here has saved a photo-shoot at one point in time. Ready? Here we go:
1. Bring Backup
Always have a backup SD/CF card you never know when you'll fill one or have one become corrupt and not know how to fix it (I have had both of these things happen, don't be like younger me bring a spare). Also, invest in good SD/CF cards and card readers (I learned this the hard way when I first started) the cheap ones break easily or simply give out after a few uses. I highly recommend using SanDisk Ultra cards they can be a little pricey but worth it (you can get SD cards here , you can get CF cards here). For card readers, I use Insignia they run around the same as SanDisk and can read every type of card imaginable (you can get the card reader here).
2. Bring a Spare
Spare batteries are always a great idea, external factors like heat can make your battery drain faster. You don't want to get half way through a shoot and have to stop because your batteries are dead. I've seen for some battery types portable battery charger if they make it for the type you use get it. Do whatever you can to extend your battery life (no battery = no shooting) if that means brings a car charger and charging backups while shooting then do it. Your client would rather you be prepared than have to stop because your cameras dead.
3. Messy Hair Be Gone
As an on-location portrait photographer, I have found the elements to be a challenge. Some days it’s windy, that can mess up a great hairstyle that your client spent hours trying to achieve. Your job is to give them the perfect photo-shoot, messy hair can ruin that. I know what you’re thinking I’ll photoshop it, well that’s hours of extra work you don’t have to do if just pack a comb and some bobby pins. At most you may have to erase to the bobby pin but that’s better than spending hours fixing fly away hairs or having to wait for the wind to stop to get your shot.
4. Stay Hydrated
Even though I do most of my shoots during the golden hour it can still be extremely hot outside. Because of this I put a small cooler in my car and with a few water bottles in it a few for me and a few for my client. I also have an electric fan that connects to my phone I use this to help keep myself and my client cool if need be. If your client is comfortable then you are better able to get great shots. No one wants to smile or pose when they feel uncomfortable, this also lets your clients know you care about them and helps to build a strong client photographer relationship.
5. How to Fix a Wardrobe Malfunction
From time to time one my clients will have a wardrobe malfunction. That is something you really don’t want to happen. But when it does you need a backup plan. If you're like me you're probably don’t much sewing skills. So at the very least carry a few safety pins with you if you know how to sew a small sewing kit can save the day. Again your job is to make your clients shoot the best one possible you don’t want to have to a reshoot because of something that can be easily fixed.
6. How to Fix the Sun
Sometimes the sunlight isn’t working with you and your photos are over or under exposed. There are a few things you can use outside of changing camera settings to help with this. First, you could shoot in a shaded area if the sun is too harsh, if you look through my portfolio you will see a number of images taken with tree cover. This was done to help block out some of the harsh sunlight. Another thing you can do is buy a reflector these are used to redirect the sunlight to where you want it. These are relatively cheap and are great to help get a sunkissed glow on your client. There really easy to use and there tons of videos on youtube showing how to use them (you can get one here, how to use one here).
7. How Much Does This Cost Again?
I always carry a copy of my price sheet with me. Why may you ask? I don’t expect my clients to be locked into a print package yet. Maybe the client has changed their mind about how many prints they want. Having that on hand makes it easier to talk out what exactly it is your client is getting and paying for. Bonus points if you have sample prints on you that they can hold and get a feel of the different texture, how big, and look of the products they are getting.
8. I Have Your Contact Info, Right?
While I require my clients to give their contact information before every shoot, who's to say my laptop won’t crash and lose it. Now that it is something that rarely happens but if you have been reading this blog you know I like to be prepared for anything. So I at the end of every shoot I not only have my clients fill out a release form (this server 2 purposes one to collect contact information and two so I know whether the client is ok with me using their photos to promote my work) and I give them my business card so they can reach me with any questions. I find that doing this not only instills trust with the people I work with but also give me an extra layer of protection for myself and my work.
Is there anything on you think is missing from this list? Let me know in the comments below.
Ashley is a Virginia based photographer living her dreams of shooting concerts & interesting people. When she's not shooting or writing for the blog you can find her curled up with a good book and a latte (coffee keeps her going).