5 non-camera things i can’t live without as a working photographer

hopscotch music festival 2012: delicate steve

There are plenty of things that no one will think to tell you about being a photographer; things like wear comfortable shoes or if you can shoot a punk show in a mini-skirt you can shoot anything. Photographers get plenty of advice about what gear they need, but very few people will tell you about the non-photo-related items they rely on in their photo business.

  1. Minicards from Moo. I’ve been using them as business cards for four years now, and they’re perfect; memorable, customizable, and not so big that they take up a huge amount of space in my bag. I reprint them every January with photos from the past year, and the little box they arrive in is perfect as a permanent carrying case that can stand up to the abuse everything in my bag inevitably carries.
  2. My smart phone. I actually hate my Samsung Intercept as a phone, but the Android system is great, and as someone who has no sense of direction, a terribly memory, and a short attention span, my smart phone has saved my life more than once. Everybody knows this these days, but it’s worth saying again. And custom apps for festivals, where you can set a lineup for yourself? Amazing for a photographer. Set your desired lineup, unstar or unhighlight anybody you miss, and when you’re done, you have a perfect list, in chronological order, of the folks you shot. Win!
  3. Permanent markers. A hold over from shooting film and labeling canisters, I find that someone always needs a permanent marker. In several colors, in several point-widths.
  4. An emergency candy bar. When I get hungry, I get cranky. When I get cranky, I get a little crazy. So I carry a candy bar in the bottom of my bag, for those nights when I’m between jobs at 11 pm in downtown Raleigh and can’t find anywhere open to buy something, or when a job runs long, or whatever. Could I carry something healthier? Sure, but when I need a blood sugar kick, I need it fast, and a Snickers bar does that trick.
  5. My Martilena camera bag insert. When I made my own camera bag this fall, I had a custom insert created by amazing Etsy seller Alida Rad-Garcia, and it is perfect. It can go in any bag (though I have one I prefer). It’s sturdy, customizable for different lens set-ups, waterproof, and padded to hell and back. Nothing is going to happen to my gear in this thing. Worth every penny and more.

So that’s my list. What non-camera-related things can you not live without as a photographer? Am I missing something huge or indispensable? Tell me in the comments!

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