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Gear That’s Not Gear


We all have a list of gear that we take with us on photo shoots.  Cameras, lenses, film/memory cards, flash, filters, and so on. And we’ve all seen lists of gear that people have, want and would buy “if they were rich”. But there are a few items that aren’t really “photography gear” but should still be taken along with you anytime you head out the door to take some pictures. While a lot of these are common sense, it’s nice to be reminded from time to time that we should double check our camera bags and pockets to make 100% sure they’re there.

Notebook (1)

Notebook (1)

Notepad and pen/pencil
Great for writing down notes about a location, camera settings, or even names of people/sites that you’re shooting. This is something we consider essential and would never leave home without.

Cell phone
Especially great if you’re out on a photo walk with friends and you decide to parts ways for a while. Comes in handy if you get yourself lost or stuck in a bit of a jam.

Gaffers Tape
Excellent for any number of situations – gaffer’s tape will keep what you need, where you need it and it won’t leave that sticky tape residue after you’ve pulled it off.

Plastic Bag
Even if you have a water resistant camera bag keeping a clear plastic bag or two with you can come in handy. There have been times when we were caught in the rain without an umbrella and a place to run for cover. Slip the plastic bag over your camera and you’re safe – and if you want, you can keep on shooting!

Flashlight (2)

Flashlight (2)

If you’re not going to be out at night you may think that you don’t need to worry about taking a flashlight along with you. Well that’s your call to make, just keep in mind that it can come in handy if you come across some old building you want to explore, drop your keys in the sewer, or even want to do a bit of light painting.

Know your rights
From time to time you may encounter a situation where someone tries to step on your rights as a photographer. It’s very handy to know your rights (and stick to them) in order to not get yourself in a bigger jam. Bert P. Krages (an Oregon attorney) drafted up a PDF back in 2003 (last updated in November 2006) which outlines your rights as a photographer in the United States. It’s a very hand PDF to print out, toss in you bag and pull out when and if you need it.

Direct link to PDF at
Same file hosted here: Bert P. Krages Photographer's Rights PDF

On the same note PetaPixel has a Photographers Rights Gray Card Set on sale for $15 with free shipping. Not only will you have a list of your rights with you at all times, you’ll also have three cards for white balance! Keep in mind that the above PDF and the Photographers Rights Gray Card Set are written with United States laws in mind. Photographers from other countries may need to look elsewhere for more information.

We also like to carry around a printout of the US Copyright Law Title 17 Chapter 1 section 120 (a) – great for all you architectural photographers. If you’ve ever been harassed to stop taking pictures of certain buildings and the owner or a security guard is trying to tell you that you can’t take pictures due to copyright then it’s a nice little printout to have.

ID and Calling Card
In case you do run into trouble it’s a good idea to have some sort of identification card with you – preferably something with a picture on it. And while you’re at it, it’s a great idea to carry a calling card or business card to give to people that may be interested in your work. Whether it’s because you’ve taken their picture or they simply seem intrigued by what you’re doing. Giving people a way to view your work is the best way to get noticed.

You can print up your own calling cards or business cards or head on over to and make up some business cards or mini cards with your photos on them to give a real personal touch.

Did we forget something that you think is vitally important? Leave us a note in the comment section below and let us know what “gear” you couldn’t leave home without.


Image Credits
1 - Notebook image by RAWKU5 - edited by
2 - Flashlight image by foxumon


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