As photographers and videographers we often obsess over our cameras, lenses, stands, lights, etc. But often times, the most important tool in your bag is from the hardware store, something that allows you to temporarily fix an unexpected situation, whether it's a gear failure, or the need to fix something in an awkward space. Here are 10 items (in no particular order) that I recommend.
10. LED Flashlight
We use a lot of lights in photography and video, but this one might not be in your gear. I've found white LED flashlights to be amazingly useful for grabbing focus in dark settings, and depending on your phone you may already have one at your disposal (I can only speak for iPhone's, but the camera light is amazingly bright and throws it's beam a decent distance).
9. Extension Cords
These should be obvious if you've ever tried to scout a location based on power outlets. Outside of spending thousands on a high end battery pack or using a generator, these are pretty much your only way to get a consistent power supply for things like modelling lights. They're easy to wind up and throw into any space you have available, and frankly. you'd be a fool to be caught without them.
8. Welding Glass
Not only does it save your eyes from bright light, it makes a great DIY ND filter, as well.
Photo credit: DIYphotography.net
Clamps fix baggy clothes, keep cords out of the way, secure backdrops, and do 1000 other MacGyver-ish things you'll discover once you have them in your kit. They come in all shapes and sizes in packs of a dozen or more for only a couple bucks, it's a no brainer.
Again, a no brainer. Getting the shot requires accessibility of all possible angles, and there's not always stuff to climb on when you need it. You don't need anything huge, but being a few feet up can offer a huge advantage. Measure the space you have to carry it around, then get whatever fits.
5. Electrical Tape
Unless you're able to afford a completely wireless setup, you're going to have a lot of cords. Cords wear down, environments aren't always dry, why not be prepared? Also works great for covering equipment brands if that's a concern.
4. Plastic Bags/Elastics
You can't always avoid the weather, and plastic bags are the easiest thing I've found for weather proofing my gear. Sure you can buy branded industry-specific rain covers for cameras and lenses, but these are free, and you have them lying around anyway. I recommend a mixture of sizes, and throw in a couple transparent bags as well (like the ones you'd find at your local grocery store's bakery and produce isles) in case you need to see your display while it's covered.
There are two ways to get a giant diffused light source... one is to buy a large, expensive, and bulky modifier, and the other is to get a large white sheet and have two friends (or clamps!) Great for simulating window light or cloudy weather.
2. Foam Board
I personally try to find the board that's black on one side, white on the other. It can be used as a background for tight portraits and products, or as a light modifier (soft reflector for the white side, flag for the black). Cheap, durable, and found at most craft stores.
1. Gaffer's Tape
Come on, you knew it was coming. Gaffer's tape is the go-to tape for many photo and video professionals world-wide,as it's made of very strong and durable cloth, while leaving no residue when removed due to it's synthetic adhesive. Use it for absolutely everything, this is your new duct tape.
Have your own item to add, or an entirely different list? Feel free to share it in the comments!