Five Pieces of Gear That Are Always in My Photography Bag

With every job or concept we go to shoot, our gear that we take with us is constantly changing. We take our full lighting setup for a day in the studio then we turnaround and pack a separate bag to go shoot in the mountains for that perfect sunset. The gear we take with us is on a constantly turning roundabout between our bags and kits. Through all the madness there does seem to be a few items that are consistently put into every setup. It’s those pieces of gear that work in all scenarios that are invaluable to us and how we work. These are the five items that I won’t leave the house without regardless of what’s on the agenda.

External Battery

When you want to talk about a universally useful item for any photographer it’s hard to leave out an external battery. I don’t think you could find anyone today who hasn’t had a battery die on them at a bad time making their job harder. This gains even more importance if you have a camera that can be charged via USB like the Sony Alpha series of camera. Having this in my bag is great to hook my phone and camera to charge while going between locations in the city or on a hike I can use it to charge my headlamp to make sure I don’t get stranded in the dark. These come in a variety of different charge capacities and ports so make sure the get the one that suits you the best.

Peak Design Capture Pro

I have used this more than any other item in my kit and it has the battle scars to prove it. This is for the people that always want their cameras out of the bag and accessible at all times. Having this on your shoulder strap will ensure that you won’t miss those candid shots that happen for that spilt second. It also provides a secure attachment system to free up both of your hands and keep the camera safe. It uses an Arca Swiss tripod plate so it may not cater to everybody, but if you do decide to implement the Capture Pro I don’t see you being disappointed.

Camera Weather Protection

This one is pretty self-explanatory and it’s a piece of gear that usually goes unnoticed until you realize you don’t have it and need it. Everyone is going to find themselves in bad weather at one point or another and we all know that these shiny high tech cameras don’t go well with water. It could be as simple as keeping a spare grocery bag tucked away in a pocket or getting something specific like a camera sleeve but it could save your wallet in the long run.

Joby GorillaPod

The Joby Gorillapod is the Swiss army knife of camera tripods because it’s not great at anything but can do little bit of everything. Made popular by the vlogging community on YouTube it has since become a mainstay in my camera bag. I have used this in so many different situations from a main tripod on a hike, phone time lapses while shooting locations, putting a LED light up in a tree, and attaching it to my main tripod to hold the separate preamp when recording a video. It’s such a simple and intuitive design and you’ll never catch me anywhere without one.

The Classic Pocket Knife

Just like my great grandfather I will always have a sharp pocket knife on my bag or in my pocket. This is used multiple times a day no matter what I’m doing. From cutting gaff tape to opening those brand new boxes from your favorite camera store, everyone needs a solid pocket knife to take along with them. Along with the external battery this is gear that I’d have on me no matter what career I was involved in. Just be careful to remove them when going through airports or being aware of the state’s laws that you’re visiting as they may have specific restrictions on size, style, etc.

Everyone’s style and work will dictate which pieces of gear end up in their bag. You may use all of these already or have no use for any of them. These are just the pieces that suit what I do and over time these will constantly be evolving to what is continuing to better my workflow. Just find what works best for you and keep shooting!

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jean pierre (pete) guaron's picture

Add in a pocket size torch - nothing worse than being caught without one, when you're trying to shoot in the dark, and they take up almost no room at all in the camera bag.

Chris Ramsey Jr.'s picture

Yeah, if the list would have been more items it definitely would have been included. I feel like it's assumed that all phones have a solid light on them so I thought it would be redundant to include it.

jean pierre (pete) guaron's picture

True - but I went on a night shoot at the local observatory recently, to shoot the Milky Way etc - and some of the hopefuls who relied on their phones found that by 9 pm the battery had gone flat. A lot of cellphones these days seem to need recharging in less than a 24 hour cycle.

Chris Ramsey Jr.'s picture

Plus a good headlamp will have the red "nightvision" setting so you don't dilate your pupils and run your eyesight at night.

I'm with JPPete on this one - why would you use your only means of communication as a flashlight (and an awkward/fragile/not waterproof one at that) when you can buy an awesome flashlight that uses batteries (AA or AAA) you already have in your kit? Hell, I carry 4 - one in each of my main camera/video bags, one in my messenger/city bag and one on my keychain.

Chris Ramsey Jr.'s picture

I'm not disagreeing, those are all reasons why I always have a headlamp as well.

oooo...headlamp. i'm sure I could find a use for that. you, sir, are an enabler. LOL!

Anonymous's picture

I have a tiny flashlight on my key ring, no phone. I never thought about an external battery, I bring spares and a car charger. No clip on camera thingies...I like sex too much. I've thought about the gorillaPod but one that would accommodate my camera would be too big. And I never leave home without my pocket knife. Our local airport has several of my old ones! ;-)

Kaj Sennelöv's picture

Hi chris
Great video!
Just wondering, is that a gorillapod to arca Swiss adapter on your gorilla pod? As you're using the capture pro a lot, it wouldn't be easy switching baseplates each time you're using the gorilla pod with your camera.

Chris Ramsey Jr.'s picture

I switch the ball head from my Sirui Tripod (which my camera was sitting on while filming) to the GorillaPod when I want to set my A7Rii on it. Plan on buying a Manfrotto RC2 quick release ballhead to replace it soon. Good observation lol!

Kaj Sennelöv's picture

Thanks for the info! I'm continuously switching baseplates for now, but still looking for a quicker solution. ;)

Chris Ramsey Jr.'s picture

I could see that being a hassle.

Jay Jay's picture

Good article! Mine is similar but with a few enhancements: you can get what's called (on amazon), "camera rain covers", which range from 2 fitted clear plastic covers with drawstring designed to fit the camera + lens completely while still allowing you to get your shots, for $7 bucks Prime, or go for a more robust one made from umbrella material from $10-15. I've shot in the rain with the cheap plastic covers and they do the job great, while taking up no space. Grocery store bags- you're better off shooting it the rain since your camera and lens is going to get soaked (this i can also tell you from experience).

I have a small flat foldable knife designed to attach onto a zipper pull or anything with a loop on it. Gerber GDC Zip Blade, $8 bucks on amazon, though im sure you can find it in any outdoors store. I like those in addition to a standard knife because you cant lose it and they're small enough where you can put them on/in all your bags.

I always have gaffers tape, which is the most important thing i can carry, and has saved me so many times on a shoot. Drop a roll in your bag, or if you want to save space (I do this for one of my camera pockets), wrap a yard or two of tape around a sharpie or pen, then stick the pen in your bag pocket, glove compartment, etc. I also have a few 3 inch long pieces of tape on the back of my camera for extreme emergencies (which i've also used).

I see you have some Peak stuff, including their messenger bag. I've tried most of their stuff- the clip you use, their lens changer system, their camera straps- all but their messenger bag, which i've been tempted to buy. I want to like their products so badly, but i feel like i'm using something that hasn't had much testing with real photographers in real world situations. Makes me sad, because i really want that bag, but haven't heard stellar reviews on it.

Chris Ramsey Jr.'s picture

I'm torn on the Everyday Backpack, I personally love it but I don't think it holds up to the hype that's surrounding it but I'm still testing it in a variety of ways before I make my final decision.

I have no experience with the messenger bag but I have heard great things.

Jay Jay's picture

I've heard lots of great things about it and it's one beautiful bag, and i've read every article and seen every review on youtube on them. And almost bought it 4 different times. However, after i saw this review on youtube (search for "Peak Design Everyday Messenger - 1 YEAR LATER"), which is a completely honest real world review of the bag, one year later... and based on that review, i'm holding off until they decide to release an updated version of the bag. Like all of Peak's stuff, there's always a few flaws with all their products that keeps them from being the best out there.

Leigh Miller's picture

If you don't have Gaffer Tape in your kit, can't call yourself a real working photographer