What Should I Take on a Photo Shoot? Digital Photographer's Checklist

Page content


How many times have you wished you had checked the ISO before you took the image? How many times have you wished you had fully charged all your batteries before you left for that early morning shoot in a hurry?

There are many times I have come back from a shooting session, wishing that I had gone better prepared. There are times I notice unlikely noise in some images, only to realize that I had shot it at a very high ISO. After many such frustrations, I finally made a list that I try to follow before leaving home, and before taking pictures.

Before Leaving Home

  1. Ensure that all your batteries are fully charged. If you are leaving early morning for a shoot, make sure they are ready and charged the previous night.
  2. Make sure you have all your equipment packed. It’s unlikely you would miss a camera or a lens, but small things are easily left out. Once when I was on a long trip, I realized in the middle of the trip that my filter mount was missing. It’s a small piece of equipment that is easy to miss. Check your CF cards, filters, filter mounts, cable/remote release. Make your own list based on the equipment you have.
  3. Once when I was out during a shoot, I formatted the CF card and started shooting. Coming back home, I realized I had not copied the previous images from CF card to the computer. Fortunately, the images I lost weren’t very important. But don’t let this happen to you. Before you leave, check the images on all CF cards and ensure that you have copied them.

Before You Shoot

  1. If you are shooting jpegs, ensure that you are shooting with correct white balance before you begin.
  2. Check the ISO. It could happen that you were shooting at high ISO the previous night, and forgot to set it back. The simplest way to ensure that you are not shooting at high ISO, is to check the shutter speed and aperture on the viewfinder before you press the shutter release. Lookout for unusually high shutter speeds. One way to avoid this problem is to re-set the ISO to the lowest value at the end of every shoot. You will always realize if you need to increase the ISO, but the other way is rarely true.
  3. Check all other shooting settings that you tend to change. See that you are on the correct shooting mode. If you had left it at manual mode the previous time, you might end up with poorly exposed images. Verify the AF Mode, focus point selected, metering mode, parameter settings and custom functions.
  4. If you are shooting moving objects, make sure you are in ‘continuous mode’. Trying to change the settings in last moment means your subject (a bird, race car, plane,..) may be gone before you are ready to shoot.

It may sound like a lot of things to remember initially, but once you get used to checking all this, it takes no more than a few seconds to scan through all things and be ready to shoot. Also, if you never change some setting, you don’t need to worry about checking it. For example, I always shoot keeping white balance at auto and never change it. So I don’t check it every time I begin shooting.