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.