Camera Bag Checklist – Digital Photography Tip of the Week

A lot of the photography that I do is nature related. Each weekend, I am up before the crack of dawn so that I can get to my destination before the sun comes up, but nature is not all that I shoot. I also shoot assignments, weddings, engagements, and the different people I shoot with all have different areas of interest.

One problem I face is that the equipment I use isn’t always the same for each type of photography. How do I keep what equipment I need for a particular shoot organized? I use a checklist. Camera Body, necessary lenses, charged batteries for my camera, formatted memory cards. But what else do I need. That depends on what I am shooting.

I have three camera bags that I use, a small backpack good for small excursions or exploring, especially when I know my choice of equipment will be limited. A large bag I use for most of my other shooting that will hold all of my lenses, a film body, external flash, filters and accessories and a shoulder bag I use for for portraiture and weddings that will hold two bodies, the lenses I need for the shoot, batteries, memory cards and other accessories. Transferring equipment between bags is typically where things get forgotten. If all of my equipment was in one bag all the time, then it would not be a problem. This is where the checklist comes in handy. I keep the lists in the same location I keep my equipment in the house, so when I am transferring, I know I have all that I need. So, what else do I add into my camera bags that isn’t as obvious as the camera, lens, battery or media cards?

These items are always in my bag:

  • Lens cleaning cloth. I use a micro fiber cloth that requires no liquid.
  • Cable release
  • Pocket knife with multitool
  • Small roll of duct tape
  • Clothes pins
  • small pair of cuticle scissors
  • Notepad and Pen
  • Business cards
  • Garden size garbage bags. These are useful when I am getting low to the ground so that I can lie on something other than wet or muddy ground, also great to have when I want a bride to sit on the grass or somewhere her dress may get dirty.
  • Zipper close freezer bags
  • Spare car key

The following items come with me depending on what I am shooting:

Other items that don’t fit in my bags, but often come with me are my tripod, rain suit (pants and coat), rubber boots, umbrella and cell phone. This is an extensive list, and you will probably not need all of these items in your bag. Many of them take very little space, but are indispensable when needed.

Whatever you photograph, you will have certain equipment needs. A checklist will help to make sure you have the equipment you need when you need it. Whether a serious photographer with a lot of equipment, or a family shooter who only needs a camera, spare batteries and an extra memory card, a checklist will help to ensure you never end up unable to shoot due to missing or dead equipment.

The digital photography tip of the week is written by the PCIN Assistant Editor, Chris Empey. Chris is a long time photographer and is currently the President of the Niagara Falls Camera Club. You can see more of his photography at his Photo of the Day website.
If you have a tip to send Chris, or a question about digital photography he can address in the newsletter, send it to

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