Eleven Items Photographers Should Be Buying in Bulk

Eleven Items Photographers Should Be Buying in Bulk

We all know that buying in bulk has its financial benefits, but how many of us actually utilize these habits for our photography? Here are 11 items that will not only save you time and money if bought in larger quantities but will also help minimize stress while on a photoshoot.

What comes to mind when you think of the phrase bulk buying? Do you picture those extreme couponers with enough bottles of shampoo to last a lifetime? Maybe it's the doomsday preppers with their walls of tinned produce squirreled away in their bunker ready for the end of the world? The thing is, everyone really should be taking advantage of buying in bulk and thanks to the Internet it's easier than ever to do.

Photography is like many other professions in that there are certain tools which you will use day in, day out to help get the job done. For that reason, it makes total sense to constantly have those items readily available. The beauty of buying in bulk is that you will not only benefit from the saving that is inherent with such a purchase, but you'll also free up time to spend on better things. If that wasn't enough of a reason, having the right tools always at hand will stop the need to compromise on a shoot. Although you can survive without many of the items on this list they all make your life as a photographer so much easier. A smoother shoot means you can concentrate on the things that matter like taking great photographs.

So without further ado here are the items you should be buying in bulk.

1. Clamps

I have a huge collection of these clamps in various sizes and use them daily, you really can never have enough of these so it's worth buying a decent amount of them in one go. Perfect for securing a backdrop, or a reflector, keeping cables tidy, or temporarily attaching a gel to a light modifier. The super small ones are great for fixing ill-fitting clothes on models. If your clamps are especially strong be sure to place a piece of tissue paper between the clamp and the fabric to stop clothing getting marked.

2. Sensor Cleaning Kits

As long as you are a photographer you'll always need to keep your lens and camera sensor clean so why not buy the items in bulk? Some of you may be a little nervous about using a sensor cleaning kit yourself but there really is nothing to it. Check out this useful article on the matter for more information. Keeping your gear clean will not only help to hold its value if you ever plan to sell it in the future, but a clean sensor will save you hours of additional postproduction work.

3. Tape

Both gaffer and masking tape are something you will always use in photography. I use the super strong stuff for holding things like backdrops up and for doing emergency fixes while out on a shoot. The masking tape is less sticky which is actually a welcome when labeling cables up and for putting marks on the floor to indicate where lights or models should be. I'm also a fan of masking tape on shoots as it can be easily written on.

4. Batteries

Copyright 2017 | Image by PublicDomainPictures | Pixabay.com

Now don't go crazy stockpiling too many batteries as they do have a shelf life to them. I do however like to keep a good number of the various ones I use regularly at hand. I often get through a lot of the coin-sized batteries for my CyberSync transmitters and although they don't cost a lot to buy I'd rather have 10 in my camera bag than worry if I will ever get caught out while on a shoot. If you're buying online you'll not only save by buying in bulk but you'll only pay the cost of postage once.

5. Business Cards

The number of times I have seen professionals in various walks of life run out of business cards while in a business situation is too frequent. For this reason, always make sure you have more than enough made. You will notice when purchasing your business cards that after a certain point the price doesn't change that much for a greater quantity. When you have a lot of business cards you will feel much happier handing them out as you won't feel like you're wasting them. The more seeds you plant with your business cards the better so buy them in bulk and give them out more freely.

6. White Cotton Gloves

This might seem like a strange one but white cotton gloves are really useful for a photographer. If you do product photography then you can avoid unwanted fingerprints when moving items around on set. I often shoot models on a sheet of Perspex and wear gloves for this very reason. The gloves are also important for me when handling my fine artwork as a fingerprint would be enough for me to reject a print. I usually buy a box of 40 gloves at a time which will last me a good while.

7. Permanent Marker Pens

Copyright 2017 | Image by Verti | Pixabay.com

A good pen is valuable to a photographer and for that reason I like to have a few Sharpies at hand. They can write on virtually anything and won't rub off. Labeling cables, writing signs, signing my fine art prints, the Sharpie can do it all. You could buy one pen for $1-2 each time but as it's something I will always need why not buy a box of 36 for $15? You won't have to buy another one for a long time after that.

8. Light Stands

I have always owned far more light stands than I have actual lights. This might sound crazy but they always come in handy in the studio. You might need a few extra ones for holding up a flag, cookie, backdrop, or reflector etc. For this reason, I recommend owning several. Now I know good light stands are not cheap but they all don't have to be the expensive ones. Keep your best stands for your lights and invest in several cheap ones for everything else. They really will make your life in the studio much easier. As with everything you buy in bulk online you can save on shipping if you buy them all at the same time.

9. Rear Lens Covers and Camera Body Caps

For the low cost to buy several lens covers and body caps it really is a no-brainer not to have spares. If you use many lenses and camera bodies while on a location then it's all too easy to lose the odd cap or lens cover. The problem is while you are waiting for your replacement to arrive in the post your gear is at greater risk of getting damaged or covered in dust. In my opinion, you can never have enough spares of these. I'd also invest in a few lens caps for the same reason.

10. Memory Cards

Copyright 2017 | Image by EsaRiutta | Pixabay.com

This one will actually cost you more money to buy in bulk but it's something I highly recommend you do. You could buy one 128 GB memory card for your camera or four 32 GB cards instead. For me, I would always prefer to have multiple memory cards than risk everything on one larger capacity card. Memory cards can fail so it makes sense to minimize that risk by storing your work in several places.

11. Disposable Shoe Covers

I buy these shoe covers in boxes of 100 and think they are a vital piece of gear for all kinds of photographer. Not only will you look like a cool CSI forensic photographer while wearing them they actually do a great job at keeping your set clean. If you're in the studio shooting on white seamless then you'll find if the whole team wears the covers it will minimize the amount of postproduction you will need to do to the floor later on. If you're shooting in someone else's house or working in a sensitive location then the addition of an inexpensive shoe cover sends out the right kind of message to your clients. They also work great outdoors to protect your footwear when conditions are not so favorable underfoot. The fact several pairs of these covers will take up very little space in your camera bag means it really is a no-brainer to stock up on these.

So there you have it, 11 items which are well worth buying in bulk. If you go through certain products regularly then it makes more sense to get them in much larger quantities. Not only will you save time and money in doing so, but it will make your life as a photographer so much easier as you will have minimized the chances of you running out of the tools you need to do the job effectively.

Is there anything you think I missed off the list? I'd love to hear about any photography related items you often buy in bulk.

Lead image by PIRO4D from Pixabay.

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Robert Bell's picture

Need to invest in those white gloves and shoe things ASAP!

Paul Parker's picture

You would not believe how much shoe covers help make a photographers life easier...

Dr Peter Howell's picture

Great list, I'd also add film to that collection being a film shooter.


Paul Parker's picture

Valid point Peter. I did consider adding it to the list. I hope you have a big enough fridge to store it all!

Dr Peter Howell's picture

My wife makes me keep it in the garage!


Jeff Morris's picture

Great list! I'd add cc gels to it. I can't count the times I've set a cto gel on a piece of wood furniture and watch it disappear like a chameleon under duress.

Paul Parker's picture

hahaha! I've been there Jeff!

Deleted Account's picture

You forgot film!

Paul Parker's picture

You're right Michael, it was on the original long list.

Paul Parker's picture

I mention them in #9. Whenever I see a lens in a bag without a lens cap I squirm!

Dan Howell's picture

I've hardly had a need for a Sharpie since I stopped shooting film, honestly. I used to carry around at least 2 and now only use them for non-photographic hobby things. Whereas I always have Permacel gaffers tape in black and white in my lighting cases.

Paul Parker's picture

GOOD gaffers tape is worth its weight in gold! As for the Sharpies, I find the fine tip ones most versatile...

Paul Parker's picture

Totally agree Bob. I have tried other brands of pen but they either don't last as long or they are not quite as perminant.

Great point about the lint-free kind of gloves...

Steve James's picture

Sharpies are great for just about everything but art and signing fine prints you want to last. Sharpies are not archival quality inks.They will fade in under a decade. Those nice black Sharpie inks will turn an ugly faded brown.You can buy archival quality permanent pens cheaply. Micron Make some good ones. Acid free, light fast, and archival.

Steve James's picture

This is about recommending them for use on fine art, as stated in the above article: "...signing my fine art prints, the Sharpie can do it all."

Paul Parker's picture

I use a light grey Sharpie for signing my prints but I'm going to check these out.

Thanks for the tip Bob!

Paul Parker's picture

I actually use the light grey Sharpie which more closely resembles a pencil mark.

Thanks for the suggestions/warning Steve I'm going to investigate this further...

aaronbratkovics's picture

This reminded me to clean my focus screen. Thanks!

Paul Parker's picture

haha happy to help! : )

Paul Parker's picture

Two great additions thanks William!

Steve James's picture

I'd stay away from Sharpie pens for signing fine prints. They aren't archival and will fade. Get a good quality archival pen, such as those made by Micron.

Paul Parker's picture

I actually use the light grey Sharpie which more closely resembles a pencil mark.

Thanks for the suggestions/warning Steve I'm going to investigate this further...

jean pierre (pete) guaron's picture

As I print practically all my photos, I have another reason for using white cotton gloves - I can handle my photos after they emerge from the printer, without leaving greasy marks from my fingers on them, which would spoil the prints. And NOBODY's fingers are so clean that that doesn't happen.
While some of your other suggestions relate more to the needs of professional photographers, Paul, rather than [serious] amateurs like me, I also think it's utterly irresponsible to buy expensive gear - camera bodies or lenses - without also buying spare caps for them - and also for the hot shoe, if your cameras have one.
And I couldn't be more supportive of your suggestion on memory cards - 3 trips back, I was stuck in the middle of France with a defective card - it SHOULD have been able to take another 400 shots easy, but according to my camera I had only a handful left - and there was nowhere locally that I could get hold of another card. For the following few days I had to severely ration my photographs, until I could limp back to Paris and find a "photographer's" photo shop. Since that bitter experience, I've replaced all my 128 GB cards with 32 GB cards - exactly as you suggest.
The alternative of downloading all the time and shipping the photos home by computer connections/WiFi etc is all very well, but the extra junk you have to carry makes that rather impractical unless you're within auto range of your base. - Lugging that stuff around on airlines would be a complete pain.

Paul Parker's picture

Great to hear so many people using cotton gloves! As for the memory cards, I feel your pain!

As I was reading your comment I wondered if maybe that card which *should* have been able to store another 400 shots but couldn't may have been a fake?

The counterfeit memory cards are very hard to spot and often the capacities/speeds are way off.

Just a thought.

Thanks for your comment


Thank You very much Paul Adshead...
This is very very useful article on necessary props on bulk buying and I have a few of them in abundance. Now I will try to acquire the rest asap.

Paul Parker's picture

Thank you sir, glad to hear they are of use. : )

Paul Parker's picture

For all those who have said I missed film off the list, the reason I didn't add it to my recommendations was because I see far too many people storing/handling film wrong. You can get away with it to a degree if it's just a few rolls for a short amount of time, but buying bulk film and storing it wrongly for the weeks/months/years it takes to get through it will only end in tears...