This is my 6th year using a DSLR and my 12th year of using a digital camera and over this time I have learned a few photography lessons … some, the hard way!!
This post has 10 things to remember before you start taking photos, either on a photo shoot or before you set out.
- Is your camera lens clean?
May sound simple but the amount of times I have taken a shot only to later spot a water mark or spec of dust on the final image, you might be lucky to clone it out with Photoshop but better to start with a clean lens. If you have filters ensure these are clean also.
- Have you reset your camera settings?
I like astrophotography and also night shots which use long exposures up to 1 minute or more – many times, next day, I take the camera out and go to take a shot only to find that I have a 10 or even a 60 second exposure processing in daylight.
Now, when I am finished on a shoot I reset the f-stop, ISO and Shutter speed to something normal, e.g. f/8 ; 1/125s and ISO 100 so that the camera is always as the same baseline before I shoot, either night or day. Also, if you were using the 2 second timer or mirror lockup ensure you have these turned off.
- Is your lens fully ready to shoot?
If you are doing an event, is your Auto-Focus and Image Stabilizer turned On? If you are doing landscapes you might wish to leave Auto-Focus turned off and manually focus the shot.
If you are using a tripod, turn off your Image Stabilizer as Image Stabilization can create unsharp images if used on a tripod. Therefore it is always worth checking based on your situation.
- If you just changed lenses, have you zipped up your camera bag?
You take a shot and then realise you want a wider angle, open your camera bag, change the lens and in 5 minutes you want to move your position, so you grab your bag and your gear goes flying … easily done. Always ensure your gear is zipped up and that it is in a safe (not liable to roll down a hill or be dragged out by a wave) and that it is in a dry location.
- Have you enough memory cards and enough space on your current one?
If you are at an event (e.g. a Wedding or an event where celebs are showing up), the last thing you want to see is “CARD FULL”…. Actually the very last thing you want to see is “NO CARD”, so ensure you have them packed before you leave. If you think you may fill the card, replace the card before the event or if there is a natural break in proceedings, replace the card anyway just to be safe. The one you have removed, keep that safe and lock the card so it cannot be overwritten.
- If things get messy – can you clean up?
If you are outdoors, it may rain or you may end up using your camera in an environment where splashes and spills may occur. Ensure you have some cleaning products, cloths and microfibre cloths for your lens should the worst happen.
- Some items which can help
There are some items which can help on a shoot; these include light rope (useful for securing items), pen knife or scissors, foldable stool (ideal if you are on location), and music (to help keep you sane at 6am waiting for the sun to rise).
- Are you sitting comfortably?
There’s nothing worse than being uncomfortable when doing a shoot. If you are going to be waiting around ensure you are dressed for the occasion – you may arrive at the location when it is warm but 2 hours later you may be cold with sore feet. Especially in Winter, pack gloves, hat, scarf, change of socks, hand warmers (snap the metal in these plastic hand warmers and you get 20 minutes of heat), a foldable chair if you know you will be waiting on location for a while and of course food and a flask of hot coffee. (Not all of this is applicable to all photography types,, e.g. don’t bring your own food to all your shoots — the last thing you want to see if your wedding photographer eating ham sandwiches and with a flask at the ready … but it is more of a check list or suggestion list for you )
- Do you have all the right post-production tools?
If you are doing press photography you may need to submit the imagery same evening from your location, therefore ensure you have USB cables, Card Readers, Hard Drives, Laptop & charger (of course), 3G or Internet dongle if required and also all the right software ready to go.
- If the worst should happen?
Finally, should you go on a shoot to a remote location and you are unfortunate enough to have the car fail to start, or worse, you have a fall, ensure you have a fully charged phone at your disposal. Always handy to let someone know your shoot location … many photographers including one famous incident in Alaska, have become stranded and have died due to having no communication in the event of an emergency.
Stay Safe – don’t take risks just for a photo!
Hopefully these items are useful or interesting to you and if you wish to leave a comment please do so below!