Many of us have either done this ourselves or have a friend that has done it. I'm talking about getting out to a location only to learn that you don't have a usable memory card or battery.
I have a friend who went out to the lake to take some night photos one night and he got all the way out to the location only to realize that he did not have a memory card. The friend that took him only had one card. They wasted 30 minutes driving home just to get a memory card.
When it comes to digital cameras there four things you need: Camera, Lens, Memory Card, and Battery. Yet so many times people forget their card and/or their battery. This may result in anything from a mild inconvenience to complete disaster if you're on a scheduled shoot with a client.
One of the attributes of being a successful photographer is being reliable. Great photos are created by being able to take photos in the right place at the right time, so here are 5 things you can do to help you be prepared to get that shot.
1. Always Keep an Extra Memory Card Somewhere
For guys, we almost always have our wallets with us, so keeping a memory card in your wallet could save the day. If someone else forgets their memory card, you'll be their hero when you whip one out of your wallet. That reminds me, I need to get my memory card back from my friend Jeremy.
If you don't carry a wallet at least leave one in your car, purse, or camera bag. It doesn't take much to forget a card or drop it and lose it. Another possibility is to use a phone case with a credit card slot and keep a memory card or two in there, most people rarely forget their phones.
Personally, I have a bunch of 16 GB memory cards all over the place. I have them in several camera bags, in my truck, in my wallet, in my wife's vehicle. You can pick up 16 GB SD cards for about $6 so there's no reason to not have a few spare cards. They don't need to be the fastest cards ever, they'll still work for photos.
2. Never Close the Card Door When the Card Is Out
This tip may not be practical depending on your camera, your camera bag, or where you store or leave your camera, but I never close my card door when one of my memory cards isn't in the camera. My camera sits next to the charger or the card reader while I offload photos.
Most of the time I open the card door, remove the card and immediately import my photos. Once imported, I immediately put the card back in the camera, even before editing. Another thing you can do is have a second card that you can immediately put in the camera. I have a rule that unless both my primary cards have photos on them, one is always in my bag or my camera.
Occasionally I'll need to take more photos before offloading the photos on my card. In that case, I'll set the card by the computer and immediately put my secondary card in the camera.
My camera has two card slots. One of my personal rules is that I never remove both cards at the same time. There's always a card in one slot or the other. I rarely ever shoot more the 16 GB during each outing, so my 64 GB SD card in the secondary slot almost always has tons of room on it.
3. Never Close the Battery Door When the Battery Is Out
Again, This tip may not be practical depending on your camera, your camera bag, or where you store or leave your camera, but I never close the battery door unless there's a battery in the camera. This tells me when I pick up the camera that there's not a battery in it. If you don't do this, another option is to have a second battery that you can immediately put in the camera while the other is charging.
The ideal situation is to have several batteries, enough to cover 3 sessions worth. That way if you forget to charge the batteries from the first session you'll have enough batteries for the next shoot (second session) with plenty to spare if that shoot goes long (third session).
4. Always Take an Extra Card and Battery
If you're like me, I sometimes don't want to haul my camera bag everywhere I go on foot. If you don't bring your camera bag, at least take an extra memory card and battery (or two) with you. Always. Period. It's so easy to toss them in your pocket, it's not worth it to risk being without them.
I've had a few instances where I was just going to walk out somewhere to get a couple of shots, then something happened and I needed (wanted) to shoot a bunch more photos before I could get back to my camera bag. Having that extra battery and memory card can be a lifesaver. I keep an extra battery and two memory cards in a ThinkTank battery pouch.
5. Always Offload Your Photos or Switch Cards When You Get Home
I'll admit that I don't always do this as sometimes it's pretty late at night when I get home. I do however make it a point to do it first thing in the morning, which is a bit easier for me since I work from my home office. If you don't offload your photos as soon as you get home, at least come up with a plan to do so. Place your card in a safe place and get a clean card in the camera. I often use a small sticky note placed on the card to tell me what is on it. With all of the devices and review items I have lying around my office, I'm careful to always make sure that memory cards with stuff on them are clearly tagged.
I've found that just about the only time I had images still on a card when I went out to another shoot was when I didn't offload photos that I took right away.
Whether it's ruining a client shoot, a vacation, or simply a day out with friends, forgetting your memory card or battery can be anything from a simple downer to a complete disaster. Taking a few precautionary steps will help prevent this and ensure you have everything you need to take those great photos.
One of the things that will greatly help you to not forget these things is to figure out your method of card and battery management and be consistent with that method and make it a routine.
What things do you do to prevent such a disaster?