How To Pack Your Camera Bag

Every great photographer knows that a well stocked camera bag is a must have while shooting on location. Personal preference reigns supreme when it comes to the individual photographer's choice in camera bags and different photographers will have different sets of requirements as to what kind of camera bag to use, the size of the bag, and the actual contents of the camera bag. However, there are certain items that no photographer should be without, and not all of those items are as obvious as you might think that they would be.

Extra Batteries and Film or Memory Cards

Along with your camera, extra batteries are essential while you are out on a location shoot. It doesn't matter if you are using a digital or a 35 mm film camera, the last thing that you want to have happen is to run out of batteries. You'll also want to be sure to pack spare memory cards or extra rolls of film (depending upon the type of camera that you're using). Not having enough space on a memory card or running out of film is one of the most heinous crimes that a photographer can commit.

Lenses

No camera bag would be complete without a set of speciality lenses for your camera. You'll probably want several different kinds (most photographers like to have a couple of different telephoto and wide angle lenses to choose from). These will help you to compose interesting and dynamic shots that you may not otherwise get with the lens that comes standard with your camera. While we're talking about lenses, another item that you'll want to include in your bag is a lens shade. A lens shade will help to block the sun (or whatever light source you are using) and will keep your pictures free of lens flare and it will also aid in preventing your subjects from looking too flat.

Lens Cleaning Equipment

Packing a lens cloth and special lens cleaner is also a good idea. You want to make sure that your lens is clear of any dirt, smudges, or debris and having these items around will ensure that every shot you take is crystal clear.

External Flash

If you are planing to take lots of indoor photos or portraits, an external flash will be helpful to light on your subject. External flashes are also great for avoiding the dreaded "Red Eye" that comes from a flash being too close to the camera lens.

Mini Tripod

Even if you prefer to take handheld shots most of the time, you'll occasionally want something stable to set your camera on for a perfect shot. A mini tripod is the perfect way to get your camera in a perfect position. A mini tripod is much more flexible than your standard tripod, and won't take up much room in your bag. It's something that you'll be glad you packed, as you never know when you might need it.

Shutter Release or Remote

A remote shutter release, or pistol grip release, is something else you may wish to pack. This attachment (or remote, depending on which style you prefer) will keep your shots steady when you press the release button to take the photograph. You don't have to worry about your camera shaking when you shoot your photo.

Lens Filters

Filters are handy tools to have with you when you are shooting at an outdoor location. There are many types of filters, and they all do different things, so you'll probably want to keep a few different kinds of filters in your bag, so that you can easily achieve the effect you want in your photos.

Lighting

You may also want to keep a set of mini reflectors, shades, and snoots for use in situations where you need to use your flash. This will help you to control the lighting at your location and ensure that your photos look professional.

Ptotective Gear

Protective gear, especially if you live or are going to be shooting in a location that gets a lot of wet weather, is something else that you'll be glad you brought along with you. This gear can be anything from a rain poncho for you and/or your camera, shower caps, plastic bags, or perhaps all of these things. You should also throw in some rubber bands so that you can keep the protective gear from blowing off of your camera.

While the above items are pretty much standard for every photographer's camera bag, there are a few other items that you may not have thought of including that you'll be glad to have in your bag at some point.

Other Helpful Items

Other items that you may or may not want to include are the following:

  • Your camera's charger - especially if you are traveling and will be staying somewhere overnight
  • A multitool or Swiss Army Knife - always comes in handy
  • Silica gel packets - keeps your bag and your equipment moisture free
  • Scotch tape - easily lift prints from LCD monitors
  • Tweezers
  • Flashlight - for those locations where you're going to be literally in the dark
  • User manual - you just might want to consider packing the manual to your camera, just in case

You may even think of some more items that could be useful for you to carry with you while shooting on location.

When you pick out your camera bag, you'll want to make sure that it is large enough to carry all of the equipment that you want to carry around with you to the locations where you'll be shooting. Not only will you want to make sure that it will offer your camera and the equipment accompanying it ample protection, you will also want to ensure that it is going to be easy and comfortable for you to carry with you.

Once you've selected your camera bag, you'll want to carefully pack the items that you deem as essential for your on location shoots. Pack them so that they will be kept as safe as possible, but also keep in mind that you're going to want to be able to easily reach everything in your bag. You're also going to want to keep your bag organized. The last thing you want to have to do is waste precious time rummaging through your bag to look for the equipment that you need all while trying to capture that perfect shot.

Keeping your bag organized will ensure that you find what you need when you need it, and will help you to focus on composing beautiful shots.