May is upon us, wedding photographers. Its the beginning of the season and we need to prepare ourselves for the long haul. Sure, we could brushing up on lighting techniques, talk about new lenses, buy faster cards, or argue about presets, but what we really need to think about are the intangible must-haves. The greens socks, my friends. That's right, I said socks.
One my favorite pieces of advice ever uttered was when Lt. Dan reminds Forest and Bubba how important foot care can be to the American in Vietnam.
“There is one item of G.I. gear that can be the difference between a live grunt and a dead grunt. Socks, cushion, sole, O.D. green,” bellowed Gary Sinise’s character in the 1994 classic Forest Gump. Who’d ever have thought that dry feet would be the key to staying alive in a warzone?
I offer you simliar advice:
Foremost, take care of those stompers. Comfy shoes should be obvious, but if you’re new to the wedding game it can be easy to overlook. Nothing is quite as jarring as swollen toes and blisters on a Sunday morning to remind you of the 3.5 miles you hooved at last night’s wedding. Consider Rockport, ECCO or even all-black sneakers at the bottom of your hip ensemble. Half of the groomsmen are in Chuck Taylor’s anyway, right?
Next, consider your trousers. Guys or girls can both benefit from the fashionable world of golf here. Stretchy, breathable slacks are plentiful anywhere you can buy golf attire and will hold up a hell of a lot better than your standard slacks or pants.
While a balanced breakfast is key to every day, it won’t always be enough to sustain you while you’re lugging gear, hopping from venue to venue, and taking portraits all day long. A snack is a must-have to help you maintain a professional level of cool and energy during these hot summer months.
Beverages are a good place to start. Even if you can’t bring yourself to eat anything before that 7:30 p.m. wedding feast, a bottle of SmartWater or an energy drink will go a long way to keep you feeling spry. Stash one or two bottles in your bag, or keep an insulated lunch bag in your trunk.
Snacks might have to be consumed in your car or on the run to maintain your tireless superhuman appearance, but they shouldn’t be neglected. Clif Bars are probably one of the easiest ways to stash a ton of nutrition into a camera bag, but can easily be substituted for granola bars, trail mix, a banana or some Gushers (don’t lie, you love Gushers). The bottom line is that you should always have a backup for when you feeling woozy or when the venue forgets to feed you.
Hygiene / Health
This is a big one for you as well as your clients. Having some basic self-care items in a plastic bag or extra zipper pouch in your roller bag is a must. You’ll be a hero when you produce a travel mouthwash or some mints for a self-conscious groom. I’m a fan of Wisps, myself. In any case, an oral hygiene item is easy enough to squirrel away. Also consider a stain removal pen, some aspirin or Motrin, a few bandages, some sunscreen, baby wipes (they clean up anything!), and tampons. Yes, even male photographers - two tampons hidden away could one day make you a hero. Do it.
Repairs / Utility
I’ll start by suggesting you get some gaffer tape. Honestly though, if you’ve worked up enough gear and time behind the lens (hopefully) to shoot a wedding this year, you’d better know the story on gaffer tape! It’s the duct tape of the audio and visual world. It repairs everything, holds everything in place and generally calms the heart. Own it. Next in line is a solid multi-tool. These guys are amazing for cutting, prying, turning, and grabbing at everything from loose threads and dress zippers to broken light stands. It’s a no-brainer. Finally, add a cheap little sewing kit, a few pens, and a small LED flashlight to the mix and you should be ready to play McGuyver at a moment’s notice! Happy shooting.
Hopefully, these suggestions get you thinking about all of things you wish you had brought with you last year, wedding photographers. Undoubtedly some of these things are obvious, and many other things could be added. Let me know how dumb I am, or better yet, add to the suggestions in the comments below, or here in the Fstoppers wedding photography group.
Great article! I agree with all points made especially about nourishment. It's no good feeling fatigued when having to direct large groups :')
The last wedding I shot was the first that I remembered a clif bar. Won't ever go to a wedding without one now. The wedding before that I used my multi tool to cut down a chinese ball lantern that had caught fire! Won't leave without that either!
I always pack a light lunch/snack when doing weddings. I've attended weddings as a 2nd shoot where the photographers did not get fed at dinner. Going 10 hours without food only to find out you get no dinner sucked. I learned my lesson and I bring enough food to satisfy hunger but at the same time leaving room to eat a delicious buffet if we can. I also avoid things like energy drinks or things with a lot of sugar to prevent that crash an hour after.
I also bring a change of clothes. On super hot days its nice to change your shirt after you get sweaty. Its also nice to be able to change after you get puked on by a drunk bridesmaid.
Great article, and fun to read! I agree with and carry all* of the items mentioned (hadn't thought about the tampons, lol). I also carry a small pharmacy of single dose pouches like you find at 7-11with zertec, antacids, imodium, pepto and ibuprofen. There's always a greatful hungover groomsman that needs a few of those items.
I have to LOL at the tampons. As a woman, it would never enter my mind to ask the male photographer if they have a tampon unless I'm being a total ass.
Nice article, I'd subscribe to all of that info. I'm in Australia so we're just getting over wedding season now (52 weddings between Septemnber 2014 and May 2015). I have to say that my Rockports cost me $200 but they have been a lifesaver this year.
I also stick to more protein-y snacks in the car to eat between locations, peanuts and Jerky are a favourite at the moment, along with a bit of chocolate and a LOT of water (it can get pretty hot here through the summer).
And paracetamol ..... :-)
As far as clothes go, LL Bean and Columbia make some really great hiking button down shirts that look legitimately nice. I recommend getting shirts that are ventilated and quick dry: Shooting in the summer, I sweat like a monster, and not only is it nice to not have to worry about being a drenched swamp creature by the time I have to shoot the dance floor, but it's actually physically draining to sit in your own sweat. They also have some stretch to them, so I feel really good about my range of motion.
Great tips, Adam. Thanks for sharing.
The most 'hero' thing I used to carry to weddings were about a half dozen safety pins pinned to the flap of my Domke bag.
We have found under armor to be vital when it comes to helping with sweat. We wear it under our clothes, and it really helps keep you dry.
I have a folding lint brush that looks like an old flip phone. The brides look at me like I'm some sort of genius superhero when I bust that out.
I've found that carrying bobby pins also gives you a chance to be a hero, and could save you time having to edit out stray hair.